Secure Attachment languaging is often easiest because of left and right brain integration. Primarily Securely Attached individuals may have characteristics of Attachment adaptations from time-to-time. Working with clients with different Attachment styles requires fluidity in languaging in order to help our clients (or ourselves) move toward Secure.
Narrative and Avoidant Attachment
The Avoidant client may stick to the factual experiences without emotion. It may feel you need to pull words out of the client while they emit much of the emotional description. Avoidants can become overwhelmed by other people’s words, especially if they go on and on or repeat themselves.
When in conflict, Avoidants are looking for the point or the story without embellishment. Avoidant behavior may make it difficult to get to the heart of the narrative because the client has grown accustomed to not having their needs met.
Speaking to the Heart of the Avoidant Pattern
Understand the danger of overwhelm
Their go-to is shut-down because it is familiar
Be present when the door opens for communication
Remember they often place a positive spin on narrative (even when it was not positive)
Often feel shame around having needs
Help them find relational attunement with kind eye-gaze
Use repair messages (it’s ok to have needs…)
Practice timely responsiveness
Avoidant leans toward future-focus
They minimize their longing for connection
Avoidant often upsets others through their withdrawal, especially relationally with Ambivalent. Helping them to open the door toward Secure allows the Avoidant client to re-wire those behaviors and historical expectations.
Narrative and Ambivalent Attachment
Ambivalent can push others away by asking, talking, and overwhelming, especially with Avoidant. They go over-and-over old injuries and difficulty letting go, which often wear down those around them.
Ambivalent can lean toward the negative
May over-state their injuries and amplify them
Overly-focused on abandonment
Often creates disharmony with exaggerated responses
Speaking to the Heart of the Ambivalent Pattern
Approach one thing at a time
Needs to see caring behaviors consistently
How does it feel to have your needs met?
Practice Awareness of How Your Style Affects the Relational Field
Avoidant and Ambivalent Dynamics
Avoidant-Ambivalent often trigger one another’s Attachment system
Solution – speak to one another’s Attachment system with awareness and compassion
Remember what triggers the other and approach communication mindfully
Narrative and Disorganized Attachment
Perhaps our most challenging Attachment adaptation, clients who have Disorganized Attachment characteristics often confuse use of pronouns, tenses, and tell stories that trail off, making it difficult to piece together an accurate representation of history and events.
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