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Family of Origin Difficulties

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We are all beings in relationship.

Our first teachers about relationships (for better or worse) are the caregivers who raised us. Much of this learning is pre-language based. As infants, long before we had words, we were learning the specific ‘procedures’ necessary for relationship with our significant caregivers (e.g., “When I do this, she comes closer. When I do this, she backs away or gets upset”).

The developing brain of a baby is designed to be especially sensitive to building a template for relationship to support the bond with this significant other. As highly vulnerable and dependent beings, this attachment is essential for our survival. Once established, these early patterns of attachment form a blueprint or  internal working model for how we come to think and feel about ourself, important others and the world in general.

These internal working models are lenses through which relationships and behaviour are viewed.

The raw data of sensory input is filtered through these internal working models so that meaning is developed. The person therefore responds to their interpretation of behaviour rather than the raw experience. It is in this manner that internal working models perpetuate the established pattern of attachment that develops in early life. Four broad attachment styles have been identified. These are outlined as follows:

Secure

Will have high self-esteem, enjoy intimate relationships, seek out social support, and an ability to share feelings with other people. Views of others and the world in general are optimistic, accepting and responsive. In this way, relationship to self and to other are a buffer to anxiety.

Non-secure/Avoidant

Manages anxiety about relationships through avoidance of feelings and closeness thus minimising dependence on others by overemphasising self-reliance skills. Failures and distress are more prevalent because there is a turning away from significant others when their engagement would be beneficial. This overemphasis on self-reliance is at the expense of relationships.

Non-secure / Preoccupied or Ambivalent

Manages anxiety in relationship by control in relationships: An overemphasis on reliance on others and a minimisation of the need to develop self-reliance skills. This overreliance on others is at the expense of independence.

Disorganised / Unresolved

Manifests as difficulties with successful reliance on others or on themselves in an organised way. There is an unpredictability in the response to stress and a tendency to rigidly control the events of their lives in order to create some sense of safety. A lack of self-reliance and relationship skills are a feature of this attachment style.

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Can Attachment Styles Become More Adaptive?

We are born to connect with others: It’s in our DNA. Just as internal working models are created by repeated experience of early attachment relationships, they can also be changed or modified in later life by working with those patterns. The experience of coming to know ourselves within the context of being known – genuinely understood, honoured and cared for – can make all the difference.

Frameworks and Therapies

How Can Mind Wellness Therapy Help?

Mind Wellness Therapy is a Brisbane counselling service with expertise in the treatment of dysfunctional relational patterns to support improved connection to self and other.

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Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing

An effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma.

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Mindfulness-based therapy

A focus on increasing awareness of your internal experience to empower your capacity for effective change.

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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Behaviour based therapy focused on building skills with an emphasis on values, acceptance, compassion, present moment living and accessing a transcendent sense of self.

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Art Therapy

The use of creative techniques to help you express yourself and examine the psychological and emotional undertones in your art.

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Building your skills and learning more adaptive ways to manage life’s challenges is an investment in you and your relationships.




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