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Attachment Relationships, Trauma and Development

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1 Attachment Relationships, Trauma and Development
Alice Cook PhD Student Royal Holloway University Family Assessment Practitioner ADAM Project Associate Honorary Lecturer for the University of Kent’s online Child Protection Centre

2 Attachment Theory Offers important message.
Focus on relationships- reliable. Pioneers, John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth and Mary Main. Babies intersubjectively interwined with carers. Bowlby- Infant feeding.

3 Understanding Universal Attachment Behaviours
All humans share a set of attachment behaviors comprising four components: ‘secure base’, ‘safe haven’, ‘proximity-seeking’ ‘separation-protest’.

4 Whom do you like to spend time with?’ (proximity-seeking)
‘Whom do you miss most during separations?’ (separation-protest) ‘Whom do you feel you can always count on?’ (secure base) ‘Whom do you turn to for comfort when you're feeling down?’ (safe haven). (Hazan and Zeifman, 1994, quoted in Feeney and Noller, 1996

5 Emotion Regulation Attachment is the, ‘dyadic regulation of emotion’. (Sroufe 1996)

6 Learn to draw effectively on external resources.
Know the feeling of being comforted/contained. Parent attune with child's emotions. All attempts made by parent to provide comfort.

7 She holds the infant with her hands, with her eyes, with her voice and smile. All of these holding experiences are opportunities for the infant to learn how to contain himself. Brazelton, Kowslowski, and Main (1974

8 Attachment Styles Secure 60%
Toddlers (1-3)- Seek comfort when distressed but settle relatively quickly when soothed. Young Children (4-12)- Can form friendships and be relied upon, can seek comfort from carers. Older Children (12+) form deeper reciprocal friendships still seek comfort from carers.

9 Parent Comfortable with emotion within relationships. Able to seek support. Aware and able to be safe haven and secure base for child. Focused on problem solving rather than just reducing anxiety.

10 Insecure Avoidant 40% (insecure) Toddlers (1-3)- Do not seek comfort when distressed, tend to mask or deny feelings. Young Children (4-12)- Tend to have shallow relationships with lots of friends; avoid emotional expression. Older Children (12+)- Tend to avoid intimate or close relationships. May immerse themselves in non-emoitional pastimes.

11 Parent Prefer to avoid having or talking about feelings. Depend heavily on themselves and wont seek support. Stay distant from child to encourage independence. Tend to project unwanted traits onto their child and others.

12 Insecure Ambivalent Toddlers (1-3)- Can not be calmed easily after experiencing anxiety or distress, may seem to want comfort but also resist. Young Children (4-12)- Tend to start forming very intense emotional friendships. Older Children (12+)- Find relationships of all kinds exciting but also confusing.

13 Parent Tend to be overwhelmed by emotion in relationships. Prefer not to think in relationships and parenting . Over identify and cling to their children. When facing problems, tend to focus on reducing, ‘bad feelings’, rather than problem solving.

14 Summary of Insecure Attachment Styles
Securely attached children know they can show their needs and feelings and won’t be rejected. Avoidantly attached children learn that bottling them up is what Mummy and/or Daddy seem to prefer. Ambivalently attached children end up unsure what to do when their attachment system is activated because, for example, they regularly get fed when their carer is hungry, not when they are.

15 Disorganised Attachment
Not an attachment pattern but fleeting behaviours, that may be observed between child and carer. Indicative of significant maltreatment. Frightened by haven of safety. ‘Fear without solution’ (Mary Main) Baby P.

16 What do we mean by Trauma?
Attachment based trauma. Childhood incidences of severe abuse and neglect. Physical and/or psychological threats or assault to a child’s physical integrity, sense of self, safety or survival.

17 ‘Big T’ trauma, and ‘Small T’ trauma.
‘Big T’- sexual abuse, rape, physical abuse. ‘Small T’- neglect or a depressed or chronically mis-attuned carer. ‘Small T’ trauma can be just as destructive as ‘Big T’ trauma.

18 Unresolved Unable to process what has happened.
Unable to, ‘come to terms with it’. Unable to make sense of it. Experiences remain unresolved.

19 Resolution Memories are integrated into their original context.
Brain has filed and processed them correctly. When unresolved- intrusive memories flooding the persons conscious thoughts. Uncontrollable flashbacks (sights, sounds and smells)

20 Assessment of Trauma Trauma inflicted by attachment figure.
The age of the child. Length of the trauma. Severity of the trauma. Past and present attachment relationships.

21 The Impact on the child Schema- ‘Unlovable’.
Internalizing being bad provides a sense of power and control. The abused child will cling to this belief in his own badness because by becoming, ‘bad’ child can then make the objects of attachment ‘good’.

22 Multiple, incompatible, incoherent representational model of the self and others.
‘The material for constructing an image of oneself is oneself alone’. Vulnerability- creates fragile, poorly symbolized, unmoderated sense of subjectivity. A self state where everything is directly experienced but difficult to regulate and potentially overwhelming.

23 Severe emotional neglect- difficulty learning words for feelings.
Adults can have difficulty in reading facial expressions. Lack of flexibility in thought patterns causes difficulty distinguishing what is thought and felt and what is experienced in reality.

24 ‘Traumatized individuals see and feel only their trauma, or they see and feel nothing at all; they are fixated on their traumas or somehow psychically absent’. (Sykes and Wylie, 2004).

25 Mentalization/Reflective Function
Mentalization-(mind-mindedness) Ability to recognise that others possess thoughts and feelings that may differ from your own. Refective Function- Mentalization in the context of the attachment relationship. Parents capacity to recognise what their child is capable of thinking and feeling and that their child may be experiencing things differently from them.

26 If carer minimizes and misunderstands what the child thinks.
Abusive- illogical and unpredictable. Causes random behaviour in the child, (eg DA) Poor circumstances to develop an interest in mental worlds of close and intimate relationships.

27 Children flummoxed by what’s going on in other people’s minds.
Little interest or enthusiasm. What's the point ???? Huge implications for own parenting.

28 Emotional dysregulation
Abusive caregiver does not offer experience of regulating babies emotions. Developmental impact. Infancy- self soothing. Adolescence and adulthood- unable to soothe ourselves in ways that are not destructive.

29 Helplessness can lead to desire to want to control and dominate.
Violence and aggression- ‘Trauma Organised System’ (Bentovim 1995) Creating an, ‘aura of violence, aggression and threat’. Victimisation is projected onto the other rather than being experienced by the self.

30 Dissociation ‘Psychically absent’.
Linked to past Unresolved Loss and Trauma. Shutting down and disconnecting with the world. Involuntarily. Adaptive. ‘Nowhere to run and no one to turn to’, (Schore 2003).

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32 What’s needed? ‘‘If we are to truly effect change, we must provide high-risk families with what they need, first to heal and repair and then to grow and flourish”. Slade et al (2005)

33 Collishaw (2007)- protective factors resulting in more resilient functioning.
Developing competencies to make and maintain supportive interpersonal relationships was the most significant protective factor.

34 Two personality types Narcissistic/obsessive tendencies- ‘defensive pull not to attach to another’. ‘Defensive shell’, ward off feelings. Borderline/dependant tendencies- desire to seek and cling to an attachment figure, - ‘ A surviving wish for intimacy’.

35 Supportive Relationship
Element of, ‘parental love’. Helps develop the capacity to take pleasure in another. Implications for parenting. Offer, ‘secure base’, ‘safe haven’. Emotional Scaffolding.

36 Always try to be: Available, loving, caring Interested, responsive
Sensitive, accessible Co-operative, trustworthy

37 Aim never to be: Unavailable, unloving Uninterested, unresponsive
Neglectful, hostile Rejecting, inaccessible Ignoring, untrustworthy

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40 Final thought… Trauma lens’. (Van der Kolk et al 1996)
Trauma victims- organise much of their lives around repetitive patterns of reliving and warding off traumatic memories, reminders, and affects.

41 Questions adamproject.tiddlyspot.com (no ‘www’) -client


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