A Mental Health Moment –  Attachment Styles

Bernadette Joy Graham,
Licensed Mental Health Therapist

By Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPCC, Licensed Mental Health Therapist

The Truth Contributor

From the womb to the tomb is a quote that can be very fitting in many cases.  When a child is growing in a mother’s womb, the baby becomes a sponge soaking up noise, vibrations, emotions the mother elicits and of course the food that enters the body.  There are now countless stories of how reading and singing and even talking to your child while you are pregnant plays a big difference in their own little demeanors and attitudes once they enter into this world.  Then the real, and I will say that again, the real begins.

We all know children need a lot of care, formula or breast milk, diapers, several visits to the pediatrician to ensure the baby is meeting certain markers of growth.  It does not stop there; children need attention, they need time, they need energy (your energy), they need to feel safe and, yes, it is exhausting.  What the baby does not need is inappropriate language or music being blasted in their ears, arguments, the feeling of being alone and not feeling safe in their environment or any environment.

Many individuals believe “oh, it’s just a baby he/she won’t remember none of this.”

No, they won’t.  As the late great Dr. Maya Angelou said, “people may not remember what you said but they will always remember how you made them feel.”  Children are quite resilient.  They grieve differently, they repress feelings, they utilize play as their way of not thinking about how they feel and during all this time these feelings are being pushed farther and farther into their subconscious and other areas of their brain that will lay dormant until one day those doors unlock usually when they are in their own adult relationship and depending on how they were treated as a baby, toddler and child they are going to display those same traits unto their partners.

Now if the individual had a great childhood and was attended to and had more than enough attention and felt safe they will have a secure attachment style with their partners. The difficult part is if their partner is not also secure, there will be no love in any paradise.

The theory of attachments was developed by a man named John Bowlby, who was a British psychoanalyst who later teamed up with Mary Ainsworth, another colleague (circa 1960s), and began to formulate the tenets of this theory.  There are four attachment styles: secure, anxious, avoidant and anxious avoidant.  Recently, fearful has been added by continued research.

So how do you know where you fall?  There are several quizzes well researched.  If you should decide to take an attachment quiz you may want to already be in therapy/counseling and talk with him/her about this quiz. The good news is your attachment style if not secure can change but on a slow and sometimes a difficult road.

It’s very important to know your attachment style if thinking about marriage and or having children or just having a partner in a committed relationship.  You should both know where you are and get help if needed. Take a mental health moment and reflect back on your childhood and how your adult relationships are presently working.   If happiness is where you want to be and stay, reach out to a trained professional and begin the conversation.  It’s never too late.

Bernadette Graham is a Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor, and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. She is also a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist assisting with weight loss, smoking and other behavior changes. Provide feedback or reach out at graham.bernadette@gmail.com  For appointment information please call 419.409.4929 (Telehealth is available for ongoing and new clients at this time as well as in person appointments available on Tuesdays and Fridays only). Office location is 2525 W. Bancroft St.  Toledo, OH 43607 www.bjgrahamcounseling.org