Attachment Issues Therapy Alberta
Counselling for Attachment Disorders
Attachments are necessary components of healthy relationships in children and adults, and yet unhealthy attachments exist and can prevent you from feeling connected to other human beings or trusting them. You may recognize yourself in these symptoms of attachment disorders present in adults and children: Problems analyzing emotions, Resistance towards affection, inability to show emotional awareness, difficulty with trust, failure to maintain romantic relationships or meaningful relationships, negative self esteem, anger, or impulsivity.
Treatment is available to help. It is possible for someone to develop genuine, deep and meaningful relationships.
Online therapy is a powerful way to start your journey.
Therapists with a background in attachment psychology can help you gain confidence in yourself and as a couple.
Emotion Focused Therapy
Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) is a type of therapy that is used to improve attachment and bonding in adult relationships. This therapy method may be used for couples working through attachment issues, interpersonal relationships, or within a family dynamic. The goal of EFT is to forge stronger emotional bonds.
How do you know if you have attachment issues?
There are a number of symptoms indicating you (or your partner) may have unhealthy attachment styles. Consider your behaviour within your adult relationships, with your primary caregiver from when you were a young child, and your current behaviour in social interactions. Symptoms of attachment disorders may include:
You feel scared, anxious, or uncomfortable in relationship and often want to run away from them.
You have difficulty with forming feelings for other people and connecting.
Limited feelings for positive things.
You may struggle with low self worth.
Struggles with physical intimacy and boundaries.
You say things just to "test" your partner or to get an emotional reaction.
A fear of being alone.
Giving your partner some space feels scary.
You lie or avoid tough conversations.
Intensive reaction to change or attempts at controlling behaviour.
Engaging in dangerous activities (including addiction).
Types of attachment disorders in children
Research suggests, most children with attachment disorders may face difficulties with academics, psychological, social, emotional, behavioural and developmental disruptions. Our attachment style learned from childhood then becomes manifested in our adulthood. We unconsciously seek out patterns to connect with others in the ways we learned how to connect as children. The Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recognizes two separate attachments: disinhibited social involvement and reactive attachment disorder. Attachment theory shares that children must learn to form healthy attachments within the first year of life. If a secure attachment style is not formed in this first year, there is a greater likelihood of attachment disorders in adults.
There are 4 types of attachment:
Secure Attachment comes from having a caregiver that was attuned to our emotional state and our physical needs. This requires an adult who has strong emotional regulation skills. The result is a child learning how to emotionally regulate from a consistent caregiver in a secure, safe, environment that allows them to explore emotions, trust others, navigate conflict, and develop emotional intelligence and resiliency.
Anxious Attachment generally is marked by a deep fear of abandonment. Adults with anxious attachment may notice they obsessively focus on their partners needs, feel "clingy," and be in a more c0-dependant relationship. This may stem from childhood trauma where a child didn't have a secure adult attachment and experienced emotional neglect. There may have been a lack of trust in managing difficult emotions. As an adult, you now look to others to meed all your needs.
Avoidant attachment style is a form of insecure attachment. Some signs of avoidant attachment styles may be a fear of intimacy and a lack of trusting others. Adults who struggle with avoidant attachment styles may experience relationships to feel suffocating. Adults may exhibit a hyper-independency, emotional unavailability in their relationships, preferring to rely on themselves rather than others.
Fearful-Avoidant Attachment. Also known as Disorganized Attachment. Adults with fearful- avoidant attachment style crave affection while also wanting to avoid it. There is a desire to cultivate romantic relationships while also a part of you that wants to pull away. As an adult you may also struggle and feel confused about what health relationships look like and struggle with understanding boundaries. Disorganized attachment is more rare. A home environment that may result in a fearful- avoidant attachment may have looked like having a primary caretaker that was frightening to the child, or created traumatic experiences for the child. Neglect or abuse from caretakers influence this attachment style, leading the child to feeling a deep sense of fear, lack of trust in others, despite longing for close connections.
Disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED)
Disinhibited social engagement disorder presents in young children and makes it difficult for the child to form an emotional bond to others. The attachment style, or lack thereof, can include shyness and inability to maintain close relationships and loving connections with other adults or children. However, a child with such condition may easily communicate and carry on conversation with strangers. Throughout their childhood they may be overly friendly and demonstrate social carefree behaviour while being unable to create emotional bonds.
Reactive attachment disorder (RAD)
RAD is a disorder characterized by the lack of trust of parents. Brought on by severe neglect before the age of 5, a child with RAD will resist physical comforting, avoid eye contact, or exhibit emotional dysregulation. Some other signs of RAD are unexplained withdrawal, fear, sadness or irritability. Treatment for RAD can include parent or caregiver counselling and eduction and family therapy to create a more stable and nurturing living environment to help cultivate a more secure attachment style.
How can I help a partner with an attachment disorder?
You don't have the responsibility of ‘fixing' the problem for your partner. It's understandable that most adults struggle with cultivating healthy relationships as most of us were not modelled healthy relationships in early childhood from our primary caregiver. It is essential to practice patience in relationships- this is key to providing help as you and your partner form secure attachment styles. Work to have clear and honest communication with your partner, becoming aware of both your own needs and the needs of your partner. Set clear boundaries. Take time to understand how your childhood environment and your partners have shaped your worldview. Create discussions around what you want your relationship to look like and what unhealthy attachment patterns you want to break learned from childhood. If at any point you notice your romantic partner or partners feel uncomfortable, remember, changing attachment takes time. Shifting patterns to become more securely attached is a slow but rewarding journey that will formulate a closer bond in your adult life.