Holding presence is the most essential skill a counsellor can have (Haley, 2014, p. 2). To hold presence means that each person’s life and story is unique, and you, the client, will be the expert. This client-centred approach will try various trauma-informed practices and skills to find the best fit for you.
Attachment therapy helps us understand the unique way we view and build relationships. We all want secure relationships. When our secure attachment system is triggered, we feel safe, and our breathing is slowed, our body relaxes, we feel seen and heard. Feeling secure comes naturally to individuals born in secure households. A great deal of healing attachment wounds is possible and even common in adulthood.
However, in households where love was coupled with fear and violence, it is difficult to trust. This kind of fear of a caregiver often creates a disorganized attachment system. With a disorganized system, we constantly feel pulled toward love while also frozen with fear. We work with this system by separating out the fear, assessing it and letting go of what is no longer needed.
A preoccupation with the other person highlights the anxious attachment system. We can be so consumed with getting love it can be hard to acknowledge the love we have. We often struggle with our self-worth and need constant reassurance. It is helpful to notice the ways we are loved and cared for when this system is triggered. It is also important to ask for our needs to be met; otherwise, resentment builds.
It is not as common to have individuals with an avoidant attachment system come to counselling. The avoidant person does not realize that other people can meet their needs. They are very independent and value alone time. Usually, it is only through experiencing being loved and cared for that this individual realizes what they were missing.
Dr. Richard Schwartz developed Internal Family Systems Therapy. In this work, we connect to our most authentic sense of self. Self-care helps us to connect to this best version of ourselves. We all have different parts of ourselves that develop over time to help us deal with stress and trauma. These various parts are there to help us cope with stress, but without awareness, they can repeat old unhelpful patterns of strategies. I have found that we tend to feel our best when we spend more time with our authentic selves.