There is a lot going on in the title. We have attachment, we have trauma and we have therapy.
Let’s take a look at the meaning of these words.
Attachment, in this context, draws our attention to how we relate to others within relationships. In other words, how we attach ourselves to others, how we form and maintain relationships and how we end them.
You could now ask: Is this relevant at all? How is thinking about it going to help? I don’t want to feel attached to anyone, so what is the point?
Well, great questions, however, attachment is a primitive safety system which is present within every single mammal (including us humans) and so we are all affected by it. We do think it is relevant and worth thinking about it.
Humanists claim that we are social beings, that we can only survive and thrive (!) when connected to others, when we are in relationships. There is even a saying ‘it takes a whole village to raise a man’! As we represent different therapeutic approaches, we all subscribe to this premise.
By the way, have you tried going through the day without a single human interaction? Do you remember the pandemic related disconnection? We do. It wasn’t easy.
For those reasons alone we believe that it is important to consider attachment in therapy.
Attachment system has different shapes, all depending on the quality of relationships with early life caregivers. Predictable mums and dads tend to have children with a secure attachment style. Those on the more avoidant side of the scale tend to have dismissive children. And those less predictable tend to raise children who are ambivalent and harder to soothe. This then usually gets replicated within adult relationships. And so the more we understand the context of our lives, the more we are able to appreciate early life dynamics, the easier it is then to understand our today’s contemporary relationships. And then, we believe it is commonsensical that the more we know and understand the more conscious changes we can make and introduce. It is a great way to improve relationships. And, by the way, attachment is empirical and observable!
As children are pretty delicate, relationships which are less than optimal for them will be too overwhelming and overpowering. They will be truly traumatic.
Trauma, then, in this context, is understood as anything that is too demanding on the system that is meant to carry it. Put enough pressure on a bone, it will break. Put enough pressure on the psyche, it will break also.
The image on our first page symbolises trauma precisely. When the psyche is traumatised it also breaks into many pieces. In attachment trauma therapy we then support clients to ‘pick up the pieces’, one by one, and put the traumatised psyche together. It is usually a slow and lengthy process, however with enough love and willingness, very much possible.
That is why we only offer long term therapy – for our private clients therapy is on-going and ends when the person no longer feels the need for therapy. For our low cost counselling clients therapy goes on for twelve months.
Lastly, the word therapy comes from Greek and means ‘healing’, ‘curing’. It is an apt word for what we offer. We can help our clients heal their wounds. We do not subscribe to the notion that our clients can ‘get over’ their difficulties, that they can ‘work through’ trauma or even ‘work on’ trauma. These are either myths or common ‘figures of speech’.
What we believe is possible and realistic is the ‘integration’ of difficult experiences and difficult parts which were once repressed and/or forgotten. A bit like with that once broken plate. When put together, it will still show some cracks and imperfections, but it will be perfectly usable again.
But hey, does the meal not taste much better on a beloved plate that we managed to restore and bring to life..?