In early development, we rely on the attunement and response of our caregivers to help us regulate our nervous systems, leading towards the capacity for healthy self-regulation as we grow older. If this was not possible or available to us, our capacity for self-regulation and secure attachment relationships with others can be affected as we learn that our needs to not matter and as our systems become primed to expect pain or abandonment. Our initial responses to threat are usually social in nature – mend, tend and befriend – before experiencing fight, flight or freeze.
For individuals with insecure attachment survival patterns, therapy provides an opportunity to experience an interaction with a more grounded, non-shaming and attuned nervous system, within which to begin to explore the felt sense of co-regulation and safety in connection with another, as well as to work through and repair attachment ruptures.
Renegotiating attachment dynamics can also involve establishing a safe haven in the therapy space, developing a secure base with your therapist, addressing fear or ambivalence around closeness, and working through separation distress. Attachment work occurs on multiple levels, and seeks to resolve emotional and physical activation.