Attachment Therapy with Adolescents and Adults: Theory and Practice Post Bowlby
This book is written primarily for psychotherapists and other practitioners; it describes a new and effective form of dynamic therapy designed for working with adults and with adolescents. The theory, on which the new form of therapy is based, is centred in a paradigm that extends and crucially alters the paradigm for developmental psychology opened by the Bowlby/Ainsworth attachment theory. It describes a pre-programmed process, the dynamics sustaining attachment and interest sharing, which is activated as soon as people perceive that they are in danger. This process is made up of seven pre-programmed systems which interact with one another as an integrated whole. They include Bowlby's two complementary goal-corrected behavioral systems: attachment (also referred to as careseeking) and caregiving. Whenever the process is able to function effectively, it enables people to adapt more constructively and co-operatively to changing circumstances.
The process is essentially interpersonal. It only functions effectively when one person in a dyad or a critical mass in a group (which can be as small as two persons or occasionally one) has the capacity to act in a manner that demonstrates mature Caregiving, while engaging in "play" with others, as Winnicott has defined the activity. He considered "play" as a key aspect of effective therapy. The components of the process that are the most active in enabling Winnicottian play to be enjoyed with one or a small group of others are the systems for interest sharing between peers in its exploratory form and the Caregiving system.
The book shows how the process functions by including diagrams which show the order in which systems are assumed to become motivational, or have their motivation overridden (especially the system for interest sharing with one's peers in the exploratory form), after a person has perceived that he or she is in danger; and how through the mediation of effective Caregiving, a person's capacity to enjoy exploratory interest sharing and affectional sexuality with his or her peers can be restored.
All aspects of the process are communicated between people through information transmitted by means of the emotive non-verbal signals of body language, which are usually, but not always, accompanied by speech. The kind of emotive non-verbal signals sent during therapy between therapist and client demonstrate whether the interactive process is functioning effectively or not. The way the process functions during therapy can be demonstrated and studied from records or split-screen photographs accompanied by aural records or therapeutic sessions.
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The simplicity to which the authors draw together the complex biological systems of the fight/flight system, with the understanding of recent research on attachment as it develops and is activated in times of fear, as well as the psychological needs and interests which define our interactions with our environment, both internal and external, as well as concurrently reminding the reader of the effect of 'lookalikes' in our current relational environment and how these factors both moderate and mediate a person's understanding of and attitude towards the self across the life-span is remarkable.
Importantly, as a clinical psychologist and part-time academic who has worked with clients/patients for the last 20 years, the message is a hopeful one and the model outlines how clinicians and secular readers can start the journey towards self and other connection and no longer need the defensive self quite as much as before. For carers it outlines how the attachment process results in the activation of both care-giving and care-seeking behaviours. This dimension is a ground breaking aspect of the work, which should change the way the field of work related stress in caregivers is approached.
A must for all clinicians and trainers in academia alike
Dr. Jonathan Egan
Adjunct Lecturer in Clinical Psychology
Principal Clinical Psychologist
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