The Attachment Dilemma: "I hate you - don't leave me" | Meh!

On-Demand 3 Part recorded webinar - 5 hours 

Secure attachment is the foundation upon which an infant explores the world, navigates developmental tasks and achieves milestones. The safety that arises from secure attachment fosters brain development and curiosity about the world. Curiosity fosters learning. Learning fosters mastery. Mastery fosters confidence and trust in self and others.

Trauma, abuse and neglect impact an infant’s capacity to attach and attachment style. Adverse as well as positive relational experiences that occur during the first 2 -12 months of life are more strongly associated with a child’s and adult’s current functioning than experiences that occur during early childhood, 2-6 years, and childhood, 6-13 years (2017, Hambrick, Brawner, Perry).

Three insecure attachment styles in adults have been identified, anxious preoccupied (or anxious/ambivalent), dismissive avoidant and fearful avoidant (or disorganized). Each style is a response to, and defence against, relational deficits of caregivers.

A child’s bio-psycho-social development is a complex interweaving of family relationships, genetics, neighbourhood, financial stressors, access to education and services and the influence of peers. When child abuse and neglect is a factor, the core trauma dynamics of the locus of control shift and ambivalent attachment to the perpetrator (Ross and Halpern, 2009) underpin inner and external relational conflicts. Paradoxically, it is within the context of relationship, that the opportunity to heal presents.

Understanding both the client’s and therapist’s attachment styles is fundamental to developing, strengthening and maintaining the therapeutic relationship. Attunement with the client’s attachment fears and needs creates ‘present moments’ that strengthen the relationship and create a ‘safe enough space’ for attachment and related trauma work to be undertaken.

Both mis-attunement and attunement can trigger shame and attachment defences which can easily activate Karpman’s triangle. This may lead to escalating transference and countertransference responses and spiral into therapeutic impasse.

This workshop explores three insecure attachment styles, the role of shame and core trauma dynamics: locus of control shift and ambivalent attachment to the perpetrator, which keep attachment defences in play.

Utilising the theory of structural dissociation (van der Hart, Nijenhuis, Steele, 2006) and a ‘parts’ approach (Fisher, 2017) in combination with resolving core trauma dynamics and development of a therapeutic relationship suited to the client’s attachment style (Brown and Elliot, 2016), we will learn how to create ‘present moments’ (Hart, 2017) to tap lightly on the door of the client’s defences and seek permission to come in.

The workshop focus is therapy with adults. Through clinical vignettes, experiential opportunities for self and client reflections participants will deepen their understanding of, and confidence in entering the terrifying world of insecure attachment and develop a pathway to healing.

Program Outline

  1. Locus of control shift
  2. Ambivalent attachment to the perpetrator

Participants will learn: