Narrative and Secure Attachment

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

  • Be compassionate
  • 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
  • Past-focused
  • 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
  • Encourage self-soothing
  • Encourage self-regulation
  • 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.

  • May be difficult to follow
  • Challenging to keep on track
  • Start-stop languaging
  • Address regulation
  • Suggest ally or competent protector
  • Often has too much isolation or hyper-need

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