Attachment Theory

More on The Great Attachment Debate

We continue to review The Great Attachment Debate, a series of interviews published in Psychology Networker.  I wrote about the first three experts in last month’s blog post. This time I will summarize the contributions of Dr. David Schnarch, Sue Johnson, and Dr. Alan Schore and invite readers to share their views. The next interview was with Dr. David Schnarch, who strongly attacked attachment-based therapy. He reported having so much difficulty not with the theory of Attachment, but more how it has been used to create therapeutic interventions. He actively challenged the view that marital problems result from problems with attachment and that what partners need is secure attachment.… Read more...

Lorie Teagno’s response to “The Great Attachment Debate”

I really enjoyed and felt enlivened by David Schnarch's presentation and felt like a professional “prayer” was answered as I have struggled in the past decade with the direction couples therapy was going with the dominance of attachment, neurobiology and EFT focus as THE ANSWER, the ONE TRUE path to helping clients become whole, satisfied and intimate beings and partners. While the attachment research has been an asset to clinicians, where I find myself confused and perplexed is when the research on attachment is applied to clinical interpretations of what a resilient, loving adult relationship is and should be.… Read more...

Working to Build Attachment while Facilitating Differentiation

Last month I invited readers to list Attachment and Differentiation-based interventions in two different lists on the blog. A special thanks to those of you who shared your ideas. Developing a strong direction with a high probability of success in couples therapy often involves supporting the couple's bond and simultaneously stressing differentiation. What does this actually look like as you start out with a couple? In early sessions, it is important to define what positive outcome each partner is trying to create. Ask the partners, “What kind of relationship do you want to be in?”  Often couples come to therapy because they are stimulating negative, traumatic reactions in each other and can't extract themselves from these cycles without help from a third party.… Read more...

Integrating The Best of Attachment and Differentiation Theories

Another year has arrived. I will continue to write blogs and give you thoughts and transcripts. One of my aims for this year is to encourage more involvement on this blog from you, my readers. My online training groups have been using their blogs in stimulating discussions. I’d like you to jump in and do the same. For this first blog of 2011, I’ll make this kind of interaction easy. I'm going to ask you to list attachment based and differentiation based interventions that you frequently use with your couples. I focus a lot on integrating the best of these two theories.  Couples therapy is most effective when the therapist knows how to use both attachment and differentiation based interventions and conceptualizations.… Read more...

Please List Attachment Based Interventions That You Use

I enjoy seeing an exchange of ideas here on the blog. I invite you to list attachment based interventions that you use. Here's one to get us started: Constancy of Contact. Find one time each week that the couple will get together without discussing relationship problems. This can be a walk, a coffee date or doing a shared activity. The time and place are agreed to ahead of time and neither partner needs to request it. This is designed to build reliability, accountability and time together without stress.… Read more...

Attachment and Differentiation in Couples Therapy

This year's couples conference has now come and gone. Once again we enjoyed dynamic presentations from state of the art thinkers and practioners, such as Harville Hendrix, Pat Love, Cloe Madanes, Terry Real, Dan Siegel, Stan Tatkin and Jeff Zeig. I meant to share some highlights with you sooner, but got swamped with commitments that always crop up at the end of the training year and then had a wonderful trip to France with Pete and Molly. I especially loved the panel on “Attachment and Differentiation in Couples Therapy” that I did with Stan Tatkin. I structured this panel into the conference because I believe it is time for people our field to begin integrating the best of these two theories. … Read more...

Attachment Theory in Couples Therapy

For three weeks in November, I served as a faculty member of a wonderful on-line forum on Attachment Theory and Couples Therapy. We had an enlightening dialogue about both the research and clinical application of attachment theory concepts to couples therapy. In the process, I discovered the Couple Attachment Interview. I was introduced to it by Carolyn and Phil Cowan. While many of you may know the AAI, this interview is specific to couples. The CAI is an interview where an individual provides a narrative about his/her relationship with a current romantic/marriage partner. It is designed to assess a partner's frame of mind about attachment.… Read more...

A Glossary of Terms that are sometimes Confusing

Couples Therapy is a counseling procedure that seeks to improve the adjustment of two people who have created an interdependent relationship. There are no standard procedures to help two people improve their adjustments to each other. Generally, a more experienced therapist will offer more perspectives and tools to a couple. Length of treatment will depend on severity of problems, motivation and skills of the therapist. A couple can be dating, living together, married or separating and may be gay, lesbian or heterosexual.

Marriage Therapy is a term often used interchangeably with marriage counseling. The term marriage implies two people have created a union sanctioned by a government or religious institution. The methods used in marriage counseling, marriage therapy and couples therapy are interchangeable and depend more on the specific challenges of each unique couple.

Psychotherapy is one or more processes to help improve psychological and emotional functioning. Examples are psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, Gestalt therapy, Transactional Analysis, Rational-Emotive therapy, or group therapy. Many forms of psychotherapy are blends of different approaches. For example, newer forms of psychotherapy called energy psychology draw upon recent advances in brain and neuroscience. These approaches often build on cognitive behavioral methods.

Clinical Psychologist. After graduating from college, it usually takes about five years of graduate school to get a Ph.D. in Psycholgy. It then requires an additional two years of supervision and passing a written (and often) an oral exam. There are a few states that allow psychologists to prescribe medications (with additional training) but that is uncommon.

Psychiatrist. After graduation from medical school, there is a generally a 4-year psychiatric residency. After the completion of this training, psychiatrists must pass an exam issued by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology to obtain certification and legally practice in the field. Psychiatrists can prescribe medications.

Clinical Social Worker. This profession usually requires two years of study after obtaining an undergraduate degree. While specific licensure requirements vary by state, most require clinical social workers to obtain 3,000 hours or 2 years of supervised clinical experience, after obtaining a Masters degree. Social workers can also specialize in diverse fields such as human services management, social welfare analysis, community organizing, social and community development, and social and political research.

Marriage and Family Therapist. Obtaining this license requires a Masters degree which takes approximately two years of post graduate study. The license also requires 3000 hours of supervised work and passing written exams.

The Couples Institute. We have assembled a group of top notch therapists at The Couples Institute. Whatever marriage help or marriage advice you are looking for, we are here to serve you. While most other therapists see only a few couples a week, we specialize in marriage and couples relationships, working to develop and bring you the most current and effective approaches to couples therapy. For more information about couples therapy or marriage counseling, see our couples therapy section.