Monday, April 23, 2012

Have you ever been in a relationship with a "needy" significant other? You may be familiar with the type; they tend to be insecure about themselves, their relationships, and just about everything else. This person may also be very emotional, and feel unworthy of love. Although it may seem cliche to say in the psych-field, it is likely that this person's behavior was learned in childhood. In fact, the first 18 to 24 months of a child's life are critical in developing intimacy with others and can influence their ability to have close relationships later in life. This is known as attachment theory. 

In class, Dr. Corsini explained that an infant's interactions with their caregiver(s) early in life are directly tied to their attachment style and behavior system. This is a result of the neurological development of the brain, which uses internal working models, similar to schemas, to develop patterns. If a caregiver is quick, consistent and effective with the infant, the child will develop a secure attachment. A secure attachment is ideal because this means the person has a positive view of themselves, and that they are worthy of love, and they also have a positive view of others, which they can trust and rely on. If the caregiver is not quick, consistent or effective, the child is likely to develop a secondary attachment style. For example, if a mother is quick and effective, but not consistent with her child, the child is likely to develop an anxious attachment style, resulting in a negative view of self, and a positive view of others. In contrast, if a mother is not quick or effective but is consistent in her behavior, the child is likely to have a positive view of themselves and a negative view of others, resulting in an avoidant attachment style. If a caregiver is not quick, or consistent or effective, the child is likely to have a negative view of themselves and of others, and will identify with fearful/disorganized attachment.

Dr. Corsini went on to explain that our attachment style with others correlates to our attachment style with God and how we relate to God. For example, if we are secure, we may feel the need to maintain a close and consistent proximity to God, and believe that God is our safe haven when things go wrong, and we can develop trust and feel safe venturing out and exploring when God is our tour guide. Yet, if we are anxious, we may worry about God's ability to love us in return, and if we are avoidant, we may associate intimacy with God as a loss of our independence and therefore minimize our closeness with God. When integrating this theory in counseling, it is important to understand the client's attachment style so the counselor can help the client cope with things in the appropriate manner. For example, if a client has a healthy and secure attachment with their parents and close loved ones, they are likely to be strong in their faith and in their relationship with the Lord. If the client understands their identity in Christ and that they are precious and priceless in God’s eyes, they will also understand that they have worth because of the costly sacrifice of Jesus. Counselors can help their clients understand that they are worthy of love, and because of God’s love, the client can trust in God and put their faith in Him. Thankfully, God gives us hope for clients who may not have a healthy and secure attachment, because these styles can change over time.

Want to know your attachment style? Click Here!


  1. This was a great explanation of attachment theory, styles, and relation to God. Even after hearing it in class and knowing general definitions, reading about it hear always seems to revolutionize in my mind why I act the way I do. Thanks for your final comment on the hope of attachment styles changing over time. Great post!

  2. I really enjoyed your post in that it really captures the essence of attachment theory and shows how important it is that we take note of this when counseling others. One's attachment theory plays a huge part in how one views the world and how they fit inside it, and therefore could change the entire directions of counseling. It is truly important that we take consideration and care to the lifestyle and histories of others, seeing how ones past has affected them and find ways to bring God in to heal their wounds. Great post!

  3. I have trouble believing that anyone who hears about attachment theory would not start evaluating their own attachment style as well as those around them. I know that is the first thing I start trying to figure out, where do I fall on the attachment scale. This is why I thought the link to the attachment quiz was really neat. I question the accuracy of the quiz some, but it does provide a starting point. I think it is important to know where you stand, so that you can better understand your relationships with others and with God.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.