Attachment Theory Attachment Theory

Attachment Theory is considered by many to be the backbone of developmental psychology. The basic tenet in Attachment Theory is that the developing child needs to be emotionally bonded to a reliable source of safety, love, and protection (usually provided by the main caregivers), in order to grow up healthy and secure.

This safe space provided by a reliable source of love and protection is known as the "secure base," "holding environment," "psychic womb," or "home base." Many of the conditions and disorders experienced by people can be traced to deficiencies in this stage of human development, and it is particularly manifested in dysfunctional relationships where issues such as lack of trust, excessive jealousy, poor communication, over-controlling behavior, aloofness, and others, are evident.

Addictive patterns of behavior such as to mind-altering substances, over/under eating, money and shopping, sex and pornography, gambling, love and relationships, work, etc. can be the result of an organic reaction to creating a reliable and predictable environment that works as a substitute for the lost "psychic womb" of childhood. The life of the addict is very predictable even in the midst of chaos, despair, and confusion.

Emotional bonding to another human being is not only a need of childhood but continues to be essential in adulthood. We are social beings and people naturally seek social attachments to others who can offer validation, acceptance, and love.

Unfortunately, when issues of attachment in childhood have not been resolved, they carry on to our present relationships where we hope the people who love us can make it all okay. When this is done unconsciously however, our unrealistic expectations can burden the relationship to the point of break up.

In my work, I apply Attachment Theory to create a temporary but reliable "psychic womb" from where the client can feel fully accepted and validated, and consequently, strong enough to begin exploring the "broken bonds" of childhood.

The hopeful outcome in this process is for the client to attain an internalized sense of personal safety and self-sufficiency (free of addictive patterns of behavior) and to learn how to seek, nurture, and maintain enduring and fulfilling relationships with others.