Attachment and Self-Regulation: Fostering Client Development Through the Therapeutic Relationship
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This study draws upon published neurobiological and clinical research to explore the connection between early attachment and self-regulation, and guides therapists in becoming more developmentally supportive when working with insecurely attached clients. The research suggests that those who did not grow up with the sensitive co-regulation that characterizes secure attachment may have difficulties with self-regulation throughout the lifespan, unless relational re-patterning occurs. This study shows: that the co-regulatory process of therapy can build clients‘ capacity for self-regulation: that counsellors can become more sensitively attuned to clients‘ fluctuating modes of affect: and that defensive styles of self-regulating should be respected for their originally adaptive function. The findings encourage therapists to increase their responsiveness to clients‘ needs for co-regulation via an updated knowledge of the impact of attachment and via mindful awareness of implicit levels of communication. The findings also suggest the need for greater exposure to developmental neurobiology in counsellor training programs and a greater focus on the relational process of therapy in the profession as a whole, particularly when working with insecurely attached clients.