Building Secure Relationships with Attachment-Based Therapy

Building Secure Attachments

My passion for becoming a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist started with the belief that we know ourselves in the context of relationships with others. As children, our relationships and interactions with our family members teach us so much about the world around us and where we stand within it. These early relationships help us answer the question, “am I cared for?” The answers we find establish the lense through which we view other people and establish our level of confidence in exploring the world around us as we grow.

John Bowlby, who is widely regarded as the father of attachment theory states, “A securely attached child will store an internal working model of a responsive, loving, reliable care-giver, and of a self that is worthy of love and attention and will bring these assumptions to bear on all other relationships. Conversely, an insecurely attached child may view the world as a dangerous place in which other people are to be treated with great caution, and see himself as ineffective and unworthy of love.” I know that many of our students struggle with negative core beliefs and knowing that we can shape patterns of interaction to create secure attachment gives me so much hope for the future of their relationships with self and others. We all want resilient and confident kids!

Emotionally Focused Family Therapy

In my work with Lake House Academy’s families, I have found Sue Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Family Therapy to be a useful tool. Many of our families come in feeling as if there are too many barriers to connection with their family members. Things feel distant and unmanageable. This disconnection and lack of intimacy builds up over time, and family systems become rigid and stuck in painful or unsafe patterns. What I find to be most helpful when using Emotionally Focused Family Therapy with our families is that the “identified patient” becomes the family system and pattern of interaction, rather than the individuals.

If you have come to us, chances are you and your child are grieving, and you may be feeling some sense of failure. Being stuck can create those feelings in anyone, but the truth is parenting is hard. We are all just people, with our own lenses created by our experiences, and we bring our best to our families every day. When we focus on the pattern, rather than the people, we reduce shame and promote teamwork. I love seeing our families transition from battling one another, to teaming up against the interaction that sabotages their connection with one another. They truly find a new way of being in relationship with one another, which allows them to be more fully themselves in all areas of their lives.