Monday, October 15, 2012

God Attachment: In Research and Practice

I have always been intrigued by the way individual’s life experiences and relationships inform other aspects of their lives.  Seeking to become more self-aware as I train to become a Christian Counselor, I have personally tried to examine how the relationship dynamics of my own family have informed the way I view and interact with family and friends as an adult.  John Bowlby’s theory of attachment is found throughout academic literature.  From infancy to adulthood, individuals experience attachment patterns with various caregivers, family members, and peers.  In general, it can be stated that when an individual is treated with sensitive and appropriate care, a healthy secure attachment relationship will emerge while negative treatment, including abuse and neglect can yield an insecure form of attachment (Crocker & Park, 2004; Dumont et al, 2012). 

The concept of a person experiencing varied forms of God attachment and its potential impacts upon aspects of the individual’s life are relevant topics in scholarly research articles (Kirkpatrick and Shaver, 1992; McDonald, Beck, Allison, & Norsworthy, 2005) and can also be found in books such as Clinton and Straub’s GodAttachment:  Why You Believe, Act, and Feel the Way You Do About God.  Various writers and researchers examine both how our view of God can be altered by the lens of our attachment to our parents in our home of origin and how a healthy secure attachment to God can serve as a lens through which we can view our world and heal relationships .

As an individual studying to become a marriage and family therapist with a passion for helping children of addicts, of particular interest to this blogger is research conducted by Dumont et al. (2012) examining the relationship between God attachment, a history of having an alcoholic parent, and relationship satisfaction levels.  A home of origin filled with stress and chaos often leads adult children of alcoholics and other addictions into dysfunctional relationships marked by lack of trust and intimacy issues (Beattie, 2009 as cited by Dumont et al., 2012). Dumontet al. (2012) found that relationship satisfaction of adults (both with a history of having an alcoholic parent and without) can be positively impacted by a God relationship. Their work suggests there can be value in therapists and ministry workers having clients who are seeking improved relationship satisfaction as adults examine and develop a healthy attachment relationship with God. 
Below is a video link to one counselor's program aimed at helping individuals learn from their childhood attachments and develop a secure attachment to God.  Through Inspired Collage, Peggy Burns, LMFT leads workshops with the aim of clients moving from insecure to secure attachments to God.  This method, video, counselor, etc. is in no way endorsed by LU, Counseling 507, or this blogger--Rather, this is included to show how a practitioner in the field of counseling is using research to inform her practice and is attempting to apply the principles of God Attachment to her work with clients.



  1. Great job with your post! Being a graduate assistant for a class primarily about attachment theory, I have personally read story after story of students who have a faulty view of God due to their insecure attachments with their parents or their closest loved ones. Many students' concerns encircle around the frustration they do not feel connected to God, but then they explain that their home is filled with confusion and frustration. I believe, as you have stated, there is great value in helping clients with their overall attachment. Exploring one's attachment with their caregivers and closest loved ones will often affect one's attachment with God. As one grows closer to God they will then grow farther away from sin and disruption. This positive attachment to God may directly effect their mental health.

  2. Thanks for the comment Ashton--this is a concept I have only begun researching this semester and I have a feeling it will be one of the main areas I continue to study throughout my course work. What's the title of the class you help with? I am way interested in studying this in the classroom beyond this current course even if it means taking an online class from another school. Thanks for the info!


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