Our wounds never change, but if we are willing, our relationship to them does and then we are peacefully healing.`` – Damaris Jarboux

Do you struggle in intimate relationships? Do you have a deep longing to connect with a partner, but also fear getting too close? Perhaps you don’t feel like you’re ever good enough, always trying to please those around you and second-guessing yourself. Or maybe you always expect the worst to happen and engage in a lot of negative self-talk. Do you find yourself either controlling of others or easily controlled? Do you get angry often or feel deeply afraid of conflict? Do you wish you could feel healthy, whole and able to develop and foster deep, loving and connected relationships?

Struggling with attachment issues can be a confusing, stressful and lonely experience. You may have struggled with intimate and interpersonal relationships for years, unsure of why it has been so difficult for you to connect meaningfully with another and sustain a healthy relationship. You may experience a connection at first, but either withdraw, become anxious, avoidant or codependent when the relationship becomes increasingly intimate. Having a child can trigger attachment issues to arise, especially if you experienced trauma or neglect through a parent while growing up. Adopted children are also likely to struggle to form healthy, secure attachments in adulthood if attachment issues were left unresolved.

Understanding Attachment

If you’re struggling with intimate relationships, you are not alone. Many, if not most of us, did not develop secure attachments with our primary caregiver, and it is through that relationship that most of us learn how to navigate relationships and the world. Feelings of unsafety in childhood often play out in various forms in adult relationships, especially intimate ones. There are four primary attachment styles.

Secure attachment: These relationships are relaxed. There is an easy, affectionate, comfortable and open flow. People with a secure attachment style believe that people are essentially good at heart. Healthy, secure attachments are characterized by respect, healthy boundaries, open communication and engaged, active listening.

Avoidant attachment: People with an avoidant attachment style tend to minimize the importance of relationships. They often prefer casual over committed relationships, sexually or otherwise. They tend to think things through rather than express them emotionally, and are almost relieved when a relationship ends. They believe that it’s easier to be alone and may prefer relationships with animals over people.

Anxious/ambivalent attachment: In this style of attachment, people tend to yearn, but are rarely satisfied. They over-focus on others and lose themselves in relationships. They also tend to give more than they get, which can lead to grudges and resentment. People with anxious styles find it hard to receive love and may have an underlying fear of intimacy.

Disorganized attachment: People with disorganized attachment styles likely experienced more severe forms of trauma in childhood. They tend to expect the worst and disconnect when confused. Their self-protective resources are not online. They are often easily triggered, find it hard to read others and even recreate trauma in their relationships. This attachment style is characterized by fear.

All non-secure attachment styles can be transformed. Even if you experienced trauma in childhood or were adopted, it is possible to heal and create secure attachments in your adult life. You can do this with a partner, therapist, good friend or even your own child. And, while you may never heal the relationship you had/have with your primary caregiver, you can develop compassion, let go of the past and build healthy relationships moving forward.

Attachment Therapy Can Help You Feel Healthy And Whole

Attachment therapy can help you process trauma, develop an awareness around your attachment style and patterns, let go of the past and understand that you are safe and connected in the present moment. The somatic therapy techniques and tailored approach I use can be very effective in helping clients with attachment disorder repair past wounds and develop healthy attachments.

By stitching together the sensations of the present moment to the time when the dysfunctional attachment was created, you can track what happened in the body, emotionally and physiologically, renegotiate the past and return to the present moment. In attachment therapy sessions, you’ll be provided with a safe and guided space to allow memories or feelings—or the lack of—to surface. I will serve as a witness and hold space as you notice what arises within your body. I will help keep you grounded in the present moment as you touch into and renegotiate past experiences.

In sessions, I will also educate you on attachment styles and how they are tied to the mind and body. I can help you work toward creating healthy boundaries in relationships and develop self-protective behaviors. You can learn simple, yet effective, techniques to break down old, ineffective habits and create new, healthier patterns and neuropathways. You can also learn meditation and mindfulness practices, which can help you slow down, create awareness, self-regulate and stay grounded in the present moment. You can learn to receive the messages in your body rather than react to the story.

With guidance, support and a somatic therapy approach that is right for you, it is possible to let go of the past, heal and feel whole. You can develop secure relationships with the people in your life, attract a healthy partner and stay grounded, balanced and happy in the present.

You still may have questions or concerns about attachment therapy…

I tried therapy in the past and it didn’t help. I’m not sure anything will or can at this point.

Regardless of past therapy experiences, I strongly encourage you to not give up. Healing is always possible, and we all heal in different ways in various timelines. Furthermore, the relationship that you have with your therapist is critical to the success of therapy. Only in a safe and trusting relationship can you do the deep work needed to reframe how you attach. Furthermore, if you experienced developmental trauma, traditional talk therapy can provide insight, but trauma truly needs to be released through the body, where it lives. Taking a somatic healing approach to attachment and trauma therapy can lead to long-term healing and healthy attachments.

How long does attachment therapy take?

The length of therapy really depends on you, your attachment disorder symptoms, what your attachment issues stem from and how committed you are to doing this work.

Will attachment therapy really help me have healthier relationships?

Yes. If you are committed to doing this work, you cannot only repair current relationships, but you can also attract new, healthy ones. You can develop awareness around your patterns, learn how to set and maintain healthy boundaries and develop a compassionate relationship with yourself, which can help you be a better partner, parent and friend.

You Can Feel Whole And Connected

You can develop healthy, secure relationships. If you are in Boulder, CO or the surrounding area, please call me at 303-489-8432 for a free 30-minute initial phone consultation. I’m happy to discuss your specific needs and situation and answer any questions you have about attachment therapy, somatic and trauma therapy, adoption counseling and my practice.

I customize a therapeutic approach that best supports and addresses each of my client’s specific history, personality, needs and therapy goals. With this support and guidance, the right approach for you and a willingness to engage with curiosity and a commitment to the therapy process, I can help you develop capacity to enjoy your life rather than endure it.

— Shanly Weber

shanly-weber-boulder-co