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The Power of Attachment in Therapy: Building Trust, Healing, and Growth

“New beginnings start with knowing how we create the trap that we are caught in, how we have deprived ourselves of the love we need. Strong bonds grow from resolving to halt the cycles of disconnection, the dances of distress.” Sue Johnson

When it comes to therapy, the power of attachment cannot be overlooked nor unstated for its importance and centrality to inner healing. A strong emotional bond between the therapist and client lays the foundation for trust, safety, and transformation. In this blog, we will explore the power of attunement and attachment in therapy and how it is imperative to the healing process. Building Trust and Safety: In therapy, trust is essential. Through a secure attachment with the therapist, clients feel comfortable sharing their deepest thoughts, emotions, and vulnerabilities. This bond cultivates a safe space where clients know they will be heard, seen, felt, understood, and accepted in a space that we can call a “brave space.’ This environment allows for deeper inner exploration and processing of underlying unconscious felt memories and experiences, leading to meaningful insights and breakthroughs. Re-creating Positive Relationship Patterns: Many individuals enter therapy carrying unresolved issues stemming from past broken attachment experiences. These unresolved wounds can impact their current and intimate close relationships, often organized around fear, such as fight, flight and even freeze. Broken historical attachment can be easily activated by abandonment, rejection, appeasement or strong reactions. In attachment theory, this is known as anxious, fear-avoidant, and dismissive-avoidant. However, by learning to experience and feel an attachment with the therapist, clients have an opportunity to learn too reconnect back to the self, creating new moments of experiencing and feeling a secure attachment. By experiencing a reparative relationship—an emotionally restorative felt attachment experience can help and lead to re-pattern old unhealthy attachment dynamics with new ones. This process sets the stage for creating healthier relationships within and outside therapy, fostering personal growth and long-term well-being. Sue Johnson, an expert in attachment-based therapy shared, “Emotional connection is crucial to healing. In fact, trauma experts overwhelmingly agree that the best predictor of the impact of any trauma is not the severity of the event, but whether we can seek and take comfort from others.”

Corrective Emotional Experiences:

So many clients I work with have experienced attachment trauma which is “a consistent disruption of physical and emotional safety in the family system. It is not what happens to you, but what happens inside you,” as defined by Heather Monroe, a licensed clinical social worker in Nashville, Tennessee, who specializes in treating relational trauma. Within the therapeutic relationship, clients have the chance to begin to lean into and work through difficult emotions and fear-based relational states in a supportive environment. The attachment bond serves as a foundation for healing, allowing clients to explore and process past traumas, insecurities, and fears. Through the therapist's genuineness, attunement, presence, felt sense of care, empathy, and understanding, clients can reframe their inner world experiences and develop a more integrative felt attachment to the self. When one can begin to develop or restore an inner and outer sense of attachment, this has a profound healing experience for how an individual lives and relationally functions in the world. These corrective emotional experiences can lead to increased self-esteem, resilience, and a greater sense of self-worth. Co-Regulation of Emotions: For individuals who struggle with strong emotional reactions or trauma-related symptoms, the power of attachment in therapy becomes even more evident. It creates a holding space and an anchor, as the therapist strongly supports the client to remain grounded, with a focus on attunement and attachment. Here the therapist provides a source of emotional support and co-regulation during challenging moments. By holding space with the therapist, the clients learn healthy coping mechanisms and strategies for managing their inner emotions. This co-regulation fosters emotional inner safety and connection back to self and helps develop resilience in handling relationships, especially close or intimate, where you may have become easily triggered. So, in summary, the power of attachment in therapy cannot be understated. It plays a crucial role in building trust, creating safety, facilitating healing and growth and developing a felt experience of a secure attachment. Through a secure attachment with the therapist, clients feel supported, understood, and accepted, allowing them to explore their innermost thoughts and emotions freely. This bond also allows for re-patterning unhealthy attachment dynamics, creating the foundation for healthier relationships beyond therapy. Ultimately, the power of attachment in therapy empowers individuals to achieve profound personal growth, resilience, and overall well-being.

Be well


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