Attachment begins at birth, when infants first begin developing emotional bonds with their mother or primary caregiver and other close family members. This normal part of childhood development lays the groundwork for all social, romantic, and familial relationships an individual will have in their lifetimes. Unfortunately, this means that disruptions in this developmental process will likely have a lasting impact upon an individual’s ability to form healthy relationships later in life.
Studies show that more than a third of all children in the US experience some manner of attachment issue. Most are never diagnosed or treated, as resulting behaviors tend to manifest in ways that are seemingly unrelated to the cause of the issue.
Attachment issues occur when infants and children are mistreated or abused. But they may also occur when a child is moved between caregivers. Young children may develop attachment issues if they are left to cry without a caregiver responding or giving comfort, or they are only given comfort occasionally. When a child’s needs aren’t met by a caregiver, the child learns that they cannot depend on others, which makes the world a very frightening place.
Treating Attachment Issues
Like many psychological disorders, attachment issues are often only part of an individual’s mental health picture. Just as attachment issues are created in early childhood, they will usually begin manifesting themselves in aberrant behaviors long before the child reaches adulthood. However, if not identified and treated at that time, they become more likely to spawn further dysfunctional behavior, such as addiction or co-dependency.
Thus, it is quite common for many attachment issues to remain unaddressed until an individual is treated for other, more apparent conditions. When they do begin treatment, it is essential that family members also participate in their therapeutic process, so that damaged bonds can be restored and healing can take place.
It is also important for afflicted individuals to understand and make sense of their past, so that they can develop a coherent narrative that empowers them to separate themselves from a cycle of strained relationships.
When to Seek Treatment for Attachment Issues
Ideally, any attachment issues should be identified and treated as early as possible in the individual’s childhood. However, that’s often not the case. Therefore, you should look for some of the following signs and get professional help if any of them describe you.
- If you have difficulty with intimacy of any kind
- If you don’t like to be touched, or avoid physical affection
- If you have problems with anger
- If you have difficulty feeling empathy or caring for others
- If you have trouble feeling guilt, regret, shame, or remorse
- If you have any form of addiction or co-dependency
The Next Chapter Approach
Next Chapter takes a highly-personalized approach to treatment for all of our clients, beginning with a thorough psychosocial assessment completed by patient’s therapist and a psychiatric evaluation completed by our medical director. Later in the process we often will include a psychological assessment to aid in the diagnosis of the condition or conditions each client is facing. These initial evaluations are followed up by weekly visits with our medical director and patient’s therapist and supported by our clinical team approach in which each client’s unique needs and treatment are addressed by the entire treatment team. The team meets daily to discuss in detail each of our client’s needs.
Together, our clinical team will prescribe a course of action that may evidence-based treatments practices such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Solution Focused Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, EMDR and other Trauma focused modalities. Individualized treatment plans also include therapeutic groups, individual sessions, family work, and 12-Step education groups.