Psychotherapy has many ways to help people work through issues. How we understand
the issue can lead to different ways of helping resolve conflict. These different “lenses” are
helpful for the therapist to chart the pathway forward and for the client to gain insight into
One foundational model used in therapy is attachment theory. Attachment theory explains
that how we interact with the world has to do with our attachment style and that our attachment
style is formed based on our early childhood relationships, especially with caregivers. If our
early relationships were ones of support and trust, it often leads to secure attachment in
adulthood. However, lacking support early on can lead to anxious, avoidant, or disorganized
Anxious attachment style refers to people who, as a response to lacking support early in
their life, develop tendencies to have low self-esteem, fear of rejection, clinginess, and people-
pleasing behaviours. This is because they had to work so hard to receive support and validation
from their attachment figures that they now treat every relationship similarly.
Avoidant attachment style refers to those who react to their misatuned early relationships
by rejecting people before they can be rejected by them. These adults may appear confident, but
often have difficulty connecting with their emotions and creating intimate relationships.
Disorganized attachment style stems from situations where children were fearful of their
caregivers. This often stems from experiencing violence, abuse or trauma and can lead to
inconsistent behaviour in their relationships and difficulty trusting others.
While our history and experiences greatly influence our attachment style, that doesn’t
mean it cannot be changed. By understanding the patterns of your attachment style, you can
work to free yourself of habits that are not serving you. Therapeutic growth using attachment
theory leads not only to a better ability to cope but to greater balance, security and happiness.
Attachment theory emphasizes that humans are wired for connection. So, it is through
connection that we thrive or wane. Both as we develop and as adults, we need safe and secure
connections, and psychotherapy can help you create and nourish these sorts of relationships. The
therapist can provide the initial safe haven to allow for vulnerability and growth, and over time,
these learned behaviours from our early life can be replaced with healthier ones that will lead to
happiness in our relationships and with ourselves.
At Psychotherapy for You, we have many skilled therapists with experience and
modalities to help you on your journey to better attachment and better mental health. Call 289-
205-3505 or visit our website at https://www.psychotherapyforyou.ca/ to learn more.
Johnson, S. M. (2019). Attachment theory in practice: Emotionally focused therapy (EFT) with
individuals, couples, and families. The Guilford Press. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351168366