Attachment and Adult Relationships

How childhood experiences influence adult lives



Secure Attachment

Have you ever loved someone? Most of us have at least once in our lives.

Attachment is the term used to explain the bond between a caregiver and an infant. It is your first interactive relationship with a person who loves and cares for you, usually (but not exclusively) your mother.

The mother-child bond helps shape the baby’s brain, influencing self-esteem, emotional regulation and your expectation of others.

This well-known theory of child development was pioneered by British  Psychiatrist John Bowlby and American psychologist Mary Ainsworth and is known as Attachment theory.

Our attachment style is part of the way we support ourselves in the world and to a great extent is a reaction to how we were treated as children, by those who care for us, such as parents, teachers or significant adults.

If as a child you experienced long absences from the caregiver, inconsistent messages, or felt consistently frightened or under threat, as you grow in to adulthood it can profoundly influence your ability to form and maintain healthy loving relationships and communicate emphatically with others.

Individuals who experience childhood abuse, inconsistent parenting, may struggle with forming relationships as an adult. Our attachment style can also be altered by traumatic events experienced in adulthood, and can influence the way we :-

  • Form relationships
  • Enjoy ourselves and the company of others
  • Develop loving, trusting relationships
  • Manage emotions
  • Trust or feel good about yourself

Our attachment styles fall in to four main categories;

attachment 21

Research suggests that around 25%  of the population struggle with issues of attachment and intimacy, not just here in the UK  but in most countries in the world.

The reason for this is that child-adult attachment is universal and transcends culture, religion, and national boundaries. Children the world over ,need a loving  secure relationship with a primary caregiver if they want to  grow into emotionally healthy adults.

One of the lessons that modern  attachment theory teaches us, is that with the right type of counselling, our brains can make new neural connections . This does not mean we ‘forget our past’ , but are better able to self-regulate emotions , thoughts and feelings in the “here and now”,giving us the ability to form more meaningful, secure and loving adult relationships.

© Rory Lees-Oakes Dip.Coun – Tameside Counselling.

T: 07425 163870




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