Attachment-based psychotherapy

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Attachment-based psychotherapy is a psychoanalytic psychotherapy that is informed by attachment theory.[1][2] As a branch of relational psychoanalysis, attachment-based psychotherapy combines the epidemiological categories of attachment theory including the identification of the attachment styles secure, anxious, avoidant, ambivalent and disorganised attachments with an analysis and understanding of how dysfunctional attachments get represented in the human inner world and subsequently re-enacted in adult life. Ongoing clinical developments are discussed in the journals ATTACHMENT: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, Karnac Books:London (ISSN 1753 5980) (journal of the Centre for Attachment-based Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, London) and Attachment and Human Development, Brunner-Routledge: London & New York (journal of the International Attachment Network).

Attachment-based psychotherapy is based on the principles of Attachment Theory.[3] Mary Ainsworth researched this and came up with experiment and designed the “strange situation”. This was a lab experiment with 8 different episodes of separation and reunion. She proposed an attached infant will use mother as a secure base and be soothed by the mother during the reunion. Through this experiment she came up with the three attachment styles that attachment based psychotherapist use. These are Secure Attachment, Insecure-Avoidant Attachment, and Insecure-Resistant Attachment.

Characteristics of secure Attachment: -Uses caregiver as a secure base -May show distress at separation, but the baby can be soothed at reunion -60-65% of North American children

Characteristics of Insecure-Avoidant Attachment: -Unresponsive to parent when she is present -Not distressed by parting -Avoids or slow to greet parent on return -20% of North American children

Characteristics of Insecure-Resistant Attachment: -Infants remain close to parents and not eager to explore -Distressed by separation -During reunion, infants are both clingy and resistant -12% of North American children

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  1. ^ Slade,A. (1999) Attachment Theory and Research: Implications for the theory and practice of individual psychotherapy with adults. Handbook of Attachment: Theory, Research and Clinical Applications eds Cassidy, J. & Shaver, P. (1999) Guilford Press: New York and London. pp 575-594
  2. ^ Special Issue: Attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapy. Attachment & Human Development, 6, June 2004, pp.113-207. doi:10.1080/14616730410001695358
  3. ^

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