Longing for a felt sense of connection is a primary need for human beings. It’s like oxygen, we all need to feel connected. This need for connection becomes more of a priority when you feel uncertain, overwhelmed by life, threatened, not balanced, or not in control. That being said, this need is there all the time.
At first glance, attachment is a theory about what happens when you are upset, and you need comfort. What this theory really emphasizes is the emotional connection with others because attachment theory suggests that emotional isolation is inherently traumatizing, and it leads to feelings of helplessness. How do you deal with helplessness? Does it cause fear and anxiety? Do you shot down and try to numb your emotions, or do you feel stuck and can’t engage with others? We find answers for all these questions in therapy.
Keep in mind that we are not wired to deal with the hugeness of modern life. Whatever you are struggling with, you do not need to go through it alone. From the attachment theory perspective, having safe haven connections are so important because these connections calm the nervous system. When someone else has your back, distress becomes more manageable. It’s still distress, and it still hurts but now becomes not so overwhelming. If your therapist is a good fit for you, your therapist can be one of your safe haven connections in therapy.
One of the goals of an attachment-oriented therapist is to help their clients to have an emotional balance and a positive sense of self, but the ultimate goal is to strengthen the secure attachment style. Research on attachment theory shows that, securely attached people have a coherent sense of self and they have a healthy sense of felt connection with others. Securely attached people are more assertive, more empathic towards others, and they are cognitively more flexible to deal with ambiguity better. Securely attached people are also the ones who can go to their safe haven connections for comfort. This safe haven connection can also be an adult part of self who is able to come in and take care of the overwhelmed, vulnerable, child part of self. So, the safe haven connection can be a part of self. If you hear the popular term nurturing your inner child, now you know what it means. Having this emotional balance creates a positive sense of self, and you can then trust, accept, and consistently express your needs. Another goal of an attachment-oriented therapy is to help clients to formulate what they need clearly and how they can assertively express these needs by pulling others in with empathy and kindness, rather than pushing them away with anger, fear, guilt, shame or blame.
A felt sense of connection, knowing that someone has your back, allows you to be a separate and autonomous, and allows you to trust your own experience as well as having trust for others. It helps you to feel more competent, and this is why this connection is also called effective or constructive dependency because it allows you to move out into the world.
If your goals in therapy is to feel more confident, more empowered, less isolated, more resilient, or simply to deal with stress better without feeling hopeless or alone, I suggest you work with an attachment-oriented therapist. I am here for you to build a felt sense of connection with yourselves and others.