When we look at Freuds image of the iceberg, we know that the tip of the iceberg is the small part of our consciousness, a greater depth lies within the unseen part, the unconscious. What I feel, fear, think or do is much more complicated and revealing about me than what I thought before I entered the counselling process. The more an individual gets a greater depth of conscious awareness, the deeper within our psyche we can become.
As a child, looking at attachment theory according to John Bowlby (1910-1993), I believe that my attachment to my primary caregiver, my mother was an anxious resistant attachment. Bowbly believed that each child develops an attachment to the primary caregiver, which is the first and significant relationship that psychologically affects us thereafter.
“The first year in the life of an infant is considered to be the essential period, in which the quality of the bond develops”. (Krumwiede, Pg.3. 2001)
As an infant, my mother was unwell and spent a lot of time in hospital, and as a result she was emotionally unavailable. This led me to feel less confident and very clingy to her when she returned as there was an inconsistency or threat as a child that I didn’t know when I was going to be abandoned again.
I have come to the realisation, through the help of personal therapy, this has created anxiety within myself and how I view the world around me. Although this lies in the unconscious, delving deeper into it I realise as I got older, I had come to the conclusion that I wasn’t loved, and I needed someone to love me even though it was unhealthy, my anxious attachment wanted security. This I believe affected my ability to sustain emotionally healthy relationships through out my adulthood.
Through the counselling process, I can apply the theories of Bowlby to understand myself and others development in relation to working with clients. Using Rogers’s core conditions together with clear boundaries are the best way to provide a secure base for the client so they can start to develop a secure attachment to myself instead of a dependency and subsequently to others.
The challenge with using the attachment theory is the length of time is required to form a secure attachment especially with a client that has developed damage attachment patterns. Ending counselling before the trust is developed and a secure base may result in the client feeling abandoned and this can lead to more harm than benefits. A minimum of two years of commitment is recommended when working with clients with severe attachment issues.
“Through later attention of an attachment figure, who offers a secure attachment, the concept of an insecurely attached person can change slowly, through constant secure offers of attachment, develop into a secure concept of attachment itself”. (Krumwiede, Pg.7. 2001).
Sinead Mc Gaughey