Attachment and trauma

Understanding attachment is central to healing trauma. This is because complex trauma causes profound disturbance to attachment- disrupting the sense of who we are including the sense of our own worth, confidence, resilience, safety, trust and belonging with others and in the world.  Over the next few months I will be blogging about insecure attachment patterns and how best to heal or work with them. Attachment issues and patterns often come up in the therapy room or in group therapy, so it is important for both therapists and people wanting to heal their trauma to understand more about attachment.

About 56% of people are said to have secure attachment- though maybe due to my professional experiences I doubt this! There are a number of different insecure attachment styles. People with trauma can develop dismissing/avoidant, preoccupied/anxious, or disorganised attachment. Complex trauma does not usually create secure attachment! In fact relationships with self or others are where many of the painful aspects of trauma show up.

Cartoon from The Saturday Paper, July 4th 2020

Attachment experiences can also shape our biology! Studies of the Romanian orphans show that their brain development was far less than an average child of the same age, as demonstrated by Bruce Perry (2002) below, due to sensory neglect.

But just so you know, insecure attachment CAN be healed, to establish what is known as EARNED secure attachment. I invite you to follow my blogs later this year to figure out your own attachment style and decide what your goals are re your own attachment work- and this applies to therapists as well as people who want to heal their past.