Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Attachment Theory: From My Perspective

Attachment theory first began with the work of John Bowlby. Attachment is defined as “A deep and enduring bond that connects one person to another across time and space”  (McLeod, 2009). Shaffer and Emerson observed 60 babies in a longitudinal study visiting the babies monthly. Through the course of their visits they observed the interactions between the baby and the caregiver. This study showed that separation anxiety occurred when the caregiver left the child alone. Just as Dr. Corsini said in class the study showed that attachments formed between the baby and the person who most consistently responded to the child not necessarily the one who spent more time with the child. Harlow’s experiment proved that children long for personal contact and affection from their caregivers.  In the experiment the monkeys formed their attachments during the first year of their lives just as our children do.
            As Christian counselors it is of the utmost importance to know the backstory of our clients. There are children who have not made any attachments and have had to take care of themselves. Their development has been affected my their lack of consistent care. Therefore we must tread carefully when dealing with our clients. Many have learned to disassociate themselves from reality in order to cope with their current circumstances.  We must learn how to properly counsel these children and adults and must be careful not to cause more damage. Child Counselors must be observant to the way the child interacts with their primary caregivers. It is also important to learn to work with adults who were not given the proper care they needed as infants. Many people come from dysfunctional homes where the last thing they received was love; therefore they were not able to develop secure attachment, which in turn does not let them develop healthy relationships. We must be empathetic and show our clients how to correctly form new bonds that are healthy and strong. We must show them that they are not alone, but we must also be wry of a dual relationship, countertransference, and transference.
            I never saw the importance of attachment until last week, while is Dr. Corsini’s class. I was blessed with parents who took care of my every need as an infant in my ignorance I thought all children were raised the way I was. As I got older I quickly realized that was not the case. Many of my friends shared their stories with me and I now realize how important parents or even a caregiver are to children. Children need love and security in their lives. They learn from a young age either to be trusting or to be hostile with others. I pray that as Christian Counselors we a can make a difference in the lives of those people who are suffering and longing for the love of Christ.

McLeod, S. A. (2009). Attachment Theory. Retrieved

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