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Exploring Attachment through an Adlerian perspective.

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Presentation on theme: "Exploring Attachment through an Adlerian perspective."— Presentation transcript:

1 Exploring Attachment through an Adlerian perspective.

2 Attachment influences a variety of perceptual and relational elements of the human condition and is considered a fundamental component in personality development. This is a brief exploration about how perceptions associated with early attachments influence relational choices today.

3 Learning Objective 1: Participants will understand how Bowlby's work in Attachment is directly connected to Adler's original work in family constellation, birth order, and family influence. Learning Objective 2: Participants will gain tools for working with individuals who suffer from relational discomfort and dysfunction. Hopefully, we will accomplish…

4 Attachment theory Thanks to the work of John Bowlby and the contributions of Mary Ainsworth, attachment theory has become widely regarded as one of the best supported theories of socio- emotional development available. “Attachment behavior is any form of behavior that results in a person attaining or maintaining proximity to some other clearly defined individual who is conceived as better able to cope with the world” (Bowlby, 1988).

5 It is most obvious whenever the person is… frightened fatigued sick assuaged by comforting and care giving. At other times the behavior is less evident. Nevertheless for a person to know that an attachment figure is available and responsive gives him/her a strong and pervasive feeling of scrutiny, and so encourages him to value and continue the relationship.

6 While attachment behavior is most obvious in early childhood, it can be observed throughout the life cycle, especially in emergencies. Since it is seen in virtually all human beings (though varying in patterns), it is regarded as an integral part of human nature

7 Attachment behavior in differing circumstances may be shown to a variety of individuals, an enduring attachment, or attachment bond, is confined to very few (close friends, family, etc). Disturbance within the individual may be indicated when there is a failure to show such a clear discrimination.

8 Attachment vs. attachment behavior Attachment—the disposition to seek proximity to and contact with a certain individual during certain specified conditions. Attachment behavior—refers to any of the various forms of behavior that the person engages in from time to time to obtain and/or maintain a desired proximity. Attachment theory attempts to explain both attachment behavior, with its episodic appearance and disappearance, and also the enduring attachments that children and other individuals make to particular others.

9 Concepts influencing the development of Attachment theory: Separation Anxiety: anxiety about losing, or becoming separated from, someone loved. Separation anxiety is seen as a basic human disposition. Threats of abandonment create intense feelings of anxiety and anger, especially in older children and adolescents. The function of anger may be to dissuade the attachment figure from carrying out the threat (which can easily become dysfunctional). Inverted attachment relationship: In some cases, a mother, having grown up anxiously attached as a result of a difficult childhood, may begin seeking to make her own child her attachment figure; further requiring the child to care for his/her own mother.

10 Mourning: While separation anxiety is the usual response to a threat or some other risk of loss, mourning is the usual response to a loss after it has occurred. Two early schools of thought regarding mourning: – Helene Deutsch (1937) posited that due to inadequate psychological development, children were not able to mourn – Melanie Klein (1940), asserted that not only can children mourn, they do

11 Defensive Processes: “Detachment”—the disappearance of certain attachment behaviors toward an attachment figure that reappears after a period of time. (Example: deactivation of attachment behaviors when a child is injured in the absence of an attachment figure.)

12 Behavior can be purposeful “A child’s strong propensity to attach himself to his mother and his father, or to whomever else may be caring for him, can be understood as having the function of reducing the risk of coming to harm. For, to stay in close proximity to, or in easy communication with, someone likely to protect you is the best of all possible insurance policies. Similarly, a parent’s concern to care for his or her offspring plainly has the function of contributing to the child’s survival.” (Bowlby, 1988)

13 Internal Working Models Attachment theory posits a contextual lens through which the family of origin in seen as a primary source for internal models of attachment Bowlby’s contentions regarding internal working models are somewhat prophetic as internal complex behavioral systems and adequately developed internal working models enable individuals to more accurately predict future interactions with the environment (Bretherton, 1988a)

14 Internal Working Models Attachment theory postulates that in order for an individual to effectively and efficiently activate and deactivate the attachment system, he or she must develop internal working models of attachment figures as well as internal working models of the self interacting with those figures. (Bowlby, 1988a)

15 Internal Working Models As products of attachment-related experiences, it has been theorized that internal working models are grounded in the same cognitive processes that create or construct schemata for organizing and processing information. (Fiske & Taylor, 1991)

16 Internal Working Models Internal working models of attachment, however, are thought to also include affective, defensive, and descriptive cognitive components (Ainsworth, 1989; Main, Kaplan, & Cassidy, 1985). These working models, therefore, may consist of accumulated knowledge of the self, attachment figures, and prior and current attachment relationships (Sperling & Berman, 1994).

17 Internal Working Models Internal working models of attachment are grounded in an individual’s prior history of attachment relationships (Peluso et al., 2004; Sperling & Berman, 1994) and when adequately developed, can enable an individual to accurately predict outcomes of future interactions with similar attachment relationships. (Peluso et al., 2004; Bretherton, 1995; Ainsworth, 1985)

18 Internal Working Models Attachment theory postulates that in order for an individual to effectively and efficiently activate and deactivate the attachment system, he or she must develop internal working models of attachment figures as well as internal working models of the self interacting with those figures. (Bowlby, 1988a)

19 Adult Attachment Sperling and Berman (1994) defined adult attachment as… …the stable tendency of an individual to make substantial efforts to seek and maintain proximity to and contact with one or a few specific individuals who provide the subjective potential for physical and/or psychological safety and security. This stable tendency is regulated by internal working models of attachment, which are cognitive-affective motivational schemata built from the individual’s experience in his or her interpersonal world. (p. 8)

20 Adult Attachment Sperling and Berman further asserted that attachment theory resonates with psychodynamic theory in its fundamental belief that “one’s earliest experiences of relationships are formative in later life” (p. 5), and serves as a point of resonance with the Adlerian perspective on early recollections. (Manaster & Corsini, 1982; Ansbacher & Ansbacher, 1956)

21 Attachment Patterns When considering the representational basis of attachment processes, Sperling and Berman (1994) contended that “attachment theory integrates concepts from cognitive theory with emotion and childhood experience” (p. 12), and that longitudinal research on attachment has documented stable patterns of behavior ranging from 1 year to at least age 10.

22 Attachment Style Further, Sroufe, Egeland, and Kreutzer’s (1990) results suggest that children’s behavior at school, at home, and in social circumstances can be predicted by their attachment style. Furthermore, Main, Kaplan and Cassidy (1995) found that a child’s attachment style is consistent with parenting characteristics and parental attachment style.

23 Attachment Style During the last decade, attachment theory has been applied primarily to the study of adults’ intimate relationships, and various approaches to the measurement of adult attachment revealed varieties of content and assumptions (Feeney, Noller & Hanrahan, 1994). Among the various approaches, Hazan and Shaver’s (1987) three attachment styles (Secure, Avoidant, and Anxious/Ambivalent) have dominated current views.

24 Attachment and Adler

25 The major areas of convergence between Attachment theory and Adler’s work are that both include a rational and stable view of the self and the world and that both acknowledge the importance of social interaction. (Peluso, 2004)

26 Adler theorized that there is a strong connection between an individual’s private logic (often developed by age 6), lifestyle, and his/her place in the world. (Kern & Peluso, 1999; Peluso, 2004) This perception was not developed in isolation and was greatly influenced by early family experiences. (Adler, 1964) Internal Working Models??? Attachment and Adler

27 The importance of social interest development has a strong connection to an individual’s private logic and ultimately his/her style of life. Social Interest – innate ability for individuals to connect to-, find purpose, and contribute to the larger community. Individuals do not exist within a void – early family experiences significantly influence the formulation and development of private logic and social interest. (Kern & Peluso, 1999; Peluso, 2004) Attachment and Adler

28 Social interest and attachment style similarly impact an individual’s development and are both dependent on interactions between the child and family members within the constellation (positive or negative). (Shulman and Watts, 1997) Internal Working Models??? Attachment and Adler

29 There is a plethora of research that confirms that a link exists between secure attachment styles in children and characteristics of strong social interest (social competence, friendship quality, empathy, etc.) (Kestenbaum et al., 1989; S. Shulman et al., 1994; Suess et al., 1992; Verschueren et al., 1996).

30 Tasks: – Identify client’s individual perception about his/her early relationships (family of origin, friends, etc.) – Help client identify and clarify similarities between early childhood experiences and his/her perceptions today. Counselor Utility

31 Early recollections – What do they tell us? – Relationship with… Mom Dad Mom and Dad (together) Siblings Birth order – (Psychological) Perceived role served within the constellation – including possible changes in that role

32 Associate ERs with functioning today… – Relationships at… Work Leisure Romantic Current family (including constellation) Family of origin – continued role – how it affects his/her relationship with partner and children Counselor Utility

33 Role of the Counselor Normalize the challenges with emotional connection/reconnection Provide basic parenting skills Help the family to create shared meaning Share handouts, books, & resources that normalize the family’s experience Help the family to create a coherent narrative Help the children to communicate their experiences Encourage the family to create a scrapbook to create a coherent family story (shared visual schema) (Bowling & Sherman, 2008)

34 Five Therapeutic Tasks (Bowlby, 1982) A therapist applying attachment theory sees his role as being one of providing the conditions in which his clients can explore his representational models of himself and his attachment figures with a view to reappraising and restructuring them in the light of the new understanding he acquires and the new experiences he has in the therapeutic relationship. (Bowlby, 1988)

35 Five Therapeutic Tasks (Bowlby, 1982) In order to help the client to work toward this end, the therapist should attempt the following five therapeutic tasks: 1.Provide the client with a secure base from which he or she can explore his or her past. 2.Assist the client in exploration by encouraging him or her to consider, the ways in which he or she engages in relationships with significant figures in his or her current life and expectations for his or her own feelings and behaviors.

36 Five Therapeutic Tasks (Bowlby, 1982) 3.Encourage the client to examine the relationship between client and therapist. 4.Encourage the client to consider how current perceptions, expectations, feelings, and actions may be the product either of the events and situations encountered during childhood and adolescence especially during childhood. 5.Enable the client to recognize that the images of self and others might be from past painful experiences and misleading messages.

37 Gottman’s 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work Enhance your love maps Nurture your fondness and admiration Turn toward each other instead of away Let your partner influence you Solve your solvable problems Overcome gridlock Create shared meaning (Gottman & Silver, 1999)

38 Bids for Attention Bids for attention come in a variety of styles-some are more easy to recognize than others. Bids can be Verbal/nonverbal Physical/Intellectual Sexual/nonsexual High or low energy Funny or dead serious Questions, statements, or comments Can include thoughts, feelings, observations, opinions, and invitations Some nonverbal bids can include affectionate touching, facial expressions, playful touching, affiliating gestures, and vocalizing (i.e. laughing, grunting, sighing or groaning). (Gottman & DeClaire, 2001, p.30)

39 Gottman’s Four Horsemen Criticism Contempt Defensiveness Stonewalling (Gottman, 1994)


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