Many people think of attachment styles as a new trend, but the concept goes all the way back to the 1960’s!
Attachment styles are defined as characteristic patterns for how people relate to others in close relationships.
Alexa Bailey is going to help break down attachment styles’ role in relationships.
Key Takeaways from Liz’s chat with Alexa:
• Hear about Alexa’s work and role in the mental health field
• Learn how she describes Attachment Theory to her clients
• Find out the four attachment styles
• Discover how attachment styles can have an impact on our relationships
• Hear about the “good enough” secure attachment
• Learn the “four S’s” of secure attachment
All of this and more, on this episode of Calm, Cool and Connected.
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Dr. Liz: Hello and welcome to calm. Cool and connected. I'm your host, Dr.
Elizabeth fed. Many people think of attachment styles as this new trend as this new buzz that's going on on social media. But the reality is that attachment styles were actually first introduced in the 1960s by the father of attachment theory, John BBE. And since that time they've continued to grow, continue to be researched and really are a popular topic.
These. Attachment can be [00:01:00] described as the emotional bond between two people and joining us today is Alexa Bailey. She's a mental health therapist from Gilbert, Arizona, and she's here to talk with us about attachment theories and why they're so important to relationships. Hi, Alexa, welcome.
Alexa: Hello? Yes.
Dr. Liz: Glad to be here.
Yes. Thank you for joining us. So you and I both share a love for attachment styles for attachment theory and really the impact that it has on the work that we do in, in individuals, couples, families. Tell me a little bit before we jump in about your role in the mental health field and kind of the work that
Alexa: you're doing there.
Yes. So within the people that I see, I tend to specialize specifically within trauma and I work a lot with women. So women of all ages, but truthfully people who are just figuring out for themselves, specifically with attachment. How they relate back to others, how they relate to their children, how they relate to themselves.
And so it's really beautiful to see that [00:02:00] work, to watch that attachment specifically with women.
Dr. Liz: I so much as, you know, agree with that, because there's so much that people come in to talk with us about whether it's trauma, anxiety, depression, and don't even realize that it ties directly back to attachment to these formative relat.
How do you describe attachment theory or attachment styles to your clients when you're first introducing this concept?
Alexa: Yes. So attachment is one of those things that, you know, when people come to therapy, there's this often, this stigma of, I don't wanna talk about my childhood and I totally get it. I wanna validate that, right.
That it's not always the most fun thing. However, We begin our attachment with the first relationship and that relationship with our caregivers is the foundational template that we use to build our relationships with other people and how we start to relate with the world around us. Right. We are very relationally based human beings that we want to understand the world through the relationships that we have with other people.
And so attachment is how safe we feel within those [00:03:00] connections. How safe or unsafe, right through our experiences, what those connections mean to.
Dr. Liz: And so there's the, the four attachment styles that are most commonly discussed. Can you just give us a brief what each one is and briefly what they
Yes, absolutely. So we've got kind of this like anxious attachment style, which I'm sure a lot of us, that's a, a real buzzy one that we like to throw out there. Right. It's just this very kind of back and forth, uncertain sense of security where we don't have a reliable sense of will this person be here?
Will they not? Right. We also have a fearful kind of insecure attachment of there's a lot of volatility that's involved in that of. Just really not feeling close, feeling a sense of detachment starting, right. And then leading into that idea of dismissive or avoidant, where we're keeping people at a, at an arm's length, because it's not safe to have them up close and personal.
We have to keep them far away. And then of course the golden child is the secure attachment where we feel very connected. We feel safe to be far away, safe to be close. There's a sense of consistency and trust that we [00:04:00] can have that relationship remain regardless of where we.
Dr. Liz: Yeah, absolutely. And how do, how do these attachment styles really impact the quality let's even talk about adult relationships.
So when we're in relationship with others, whether it's romantic or friendship, how does our attachment style influence the quality of our relationship with others?
Alexa: Yes. So that attachment style is key to starting to build that idea of closeness and intimacy. Right? If we don't feel that sense of trust, or if we can't rely on this other person, even regardless of whether or not they're, they're wonderful, right.
If we're coming into it with that sense of anxiety, that anxious attachment, right. It makes it extremely difficult to feel close to others. We're worried about what they might be thinking about us. We started to get into the, a lot of those people pleasing perfectionistic tendencies in order to try and save that attachment to feel like, okay, let's guarantee that we can create this.
And it just, it becomes a very we're very narratively based where we've got this narrative in our head versus the reality of what's [00:05:00] happening and we're not present focused in that relationship at all.
Dr. Liz: Yes. And that is such a good point because that is really how it influences. Right?
It's it's the narrative we're coming in with the template that we're coming in with, which sometimes. Absolutely nothing to do with that other person, but we're already writing this narrative based on our previous experiences. And we talk about secure attachment being that the Goldilocks of, of attachment.
I love how you talk about the good enough secure though, because there is the tendency to strive towards this almost perfection of secure attachment, which is not really possible. Tell us about the good
Alexa: enough secure. Yes. So I mean, how many times have we had a client come in and say, I want to make sure that my kid has the most secure attachment that like they never experienced those bumps.
Right. It's a seductive idea to be like, yes, you're gonna be the perfect parent. But that is just not the case, right? Like, We would have to assume that there are no stressors. We have no biological things that impact [00:06:00] anything, right. We're removing every possible thing and we don't exist in the vacuum.
And so creating the good enough connection, the good enough secure connection and attachment comes from that idea of if we have a critical mass of good feeling of secure moments. Meaning that the majority of our time is that secure stuff. It is okay. When we have those bumps, right. We will sometimes be anxiously attached at moments and we will feel conflict that's okay.
Right. As we have ruptures, as we have repairs, that's what helps us. If we, if it's just rupture, rupture, rupture, that's unhelpful, but also can't just be bliss and repair all the time. We have to have that kind of cohesion of two things happening at the same.
Dr. Liz: And that repair process. I mean, that's one of my favorite sayings.
It's not about the rupture. It's about the repair because yes, the repair is often what helps to strengthen the attachment. So there was a rupture, but now I'm, as a parent, I'm coming to you and I'm taking ownership and apologizing and, and rebuilding that bond. And that's crucial for this secure attachment.
Yes. What are the, you [00:07:00] talk about four components, the four SS of secure attachment. Yes. Tell me about that. What are, what are those component?
Alexa: Yes. So Dan Siegel, this comes from Dan Siegel's work. He talks a lot about attachment with children. What I love about it is taking that attachment work that we focus on children and putting it into us as adults, because we've got that inner child too, right?
Yes. But those four S's are specifically to feel safe, to feel seen, to feel soothed and to feel secure. Right. And each of those components are really powerful because to feel seen, to, to recognize the nuances and to understand what that means to. Allow someone to feel safe in their feelings, they can feel whatever it is that they want to, to have conflict and to have hard stuff and the good feeling.
And specifically a big one, I think that we see is soothed, right? To feel soothed is not about having no bad feeling or getting them to feel happy, but it's about feeling comforted and feeling connected in those hard moments. And then security comes from all of those things coming together, right.
Is again, it's that trust of things can happen, but I also know that I can come back to [00:08:00] this person. Replicating that with our children or replicating that with others versus replicating with ourselves can sometimes be difficult. Yeah, it can just be difficult because it's easier to do it with others, harder to do it with ourselves.
Right. And that
Dr. Liz: scene en soothes component of these for SS. Are so crucial with the new research and to say new, I mean, it's, it's been going, but really it's, it's more in the forefront right now of trauma is not always about what happened to us as children, but it's also about the good stuff that didn't happen.
And so for a lot of us, we were not seen, we were not soothed. And so we have insecure attachments as the result of that. And I'd really like to normalize that for people. Cause it's not just about. Being abused as a child. It also could be about being neglected and, and ha it has a similar impact. So for people listening who maybe have that experience, what are a couple tips that you might give them to work towards this secure
Yes, absolutely. So it's not an uncommon experience. I'm so glad that you said that because we almost [00:09:00] build it up like, oh, I have to have X, Y, Z thing happen in order to feel these feelings, but that's not true. Right. It was just how we related to the world. Right. And so rebuilding that it, it comes with that first.
I, it sometimes feels cliche, but we have to be aware, right. To recognize and identify. Hey, this did happen, right? It's not being dramatic. It's not, overhyping, it's just recognizing that. Yes. I'm having feelings about something that doesn't sit well with me. And as we have that awareness, it starts to go back to what did I actually want to feel?
Right. If I picture in my mind's eye, you know, six year old, me, what did six year old mean want in those moments? Maybe, maybe she needed a kind word. Maybe she needed a hug, right? Is to come back to those places of how do I replicate that in the here and. Right.
Dr. Liz: And providing that for, for yourself or seeking that out from others.
Absolutely. Such good information. Alexa, where can people find you we're in social media website? Where can you be found?
Alexa: Yes. So I have a real fun time over on Instagram. Alexa, Bailey counseling. We talk about lots of fun [00:10:00] stuff. That is probably the primary place. And yeah, we have a lot of fun over there.
Dr. Liz: Very cool. Well, thank you so much for joining us, Alexa. I really appreciate it. Yes. Thank you. And thank you all for tuning into this episode of calm, cool and connected. Please make sure to find us on Facebook and Instagram and also make sure to rate and subscribe to our podcast so that others can discover our content as well.
Thank you again for joining us on this episode of calm. Cool and connected.