Attachment

As I’ve been working as a therapist for a number of years now and my private practice is now almost one year old,  I’m probably long overdue for a blog.

I’m going to kick off this blog with the topic of attachment.  Why attachment?  Regardless of what brings you into therapy: couples counselling, trauma, anxiety, etc…. attachment is relevant to you and your healing.

This is from an article called The Brain on Love by Diane Ackerman at the New York Times:

A loving touch is enough to change everything. James Coan, a neuroscientist at the University of Virginia, conducted experiments in 2006 in which he gave an electric shock to the ankles of women in happy, committed relationships. Tests registered their anxiety before, and pain level during, the shocks.

Then they were shocked again, this time holding their loving partner’s hand. The same level of electricity produced a significantly lower neural response throughout the brain. In troubled relationships, this protective effect didn’t occur. If you’re in a healthy relationship, holding your partner’s hand is enough to subdue your blood pressure, ease your response to stress, improve your health and soften physical pain. We alter one another’s physiology and neural functions.

This study is exciting and it is scientific confirmation of what therapists have intuitively suspected all along – that we thrive, heal and live to our fullest potential when we are in committed, loving and healthy relationships.  Jim Coan has gone on to run the same tests with friends rather than partners.  The results were the same.

So when you’re going to face a stressful or intense situation, grab a loved one’s hand and hold them close.  It’s not in your best interest to tough it out on your own.  We are at our best when experiencing attachment with others.  If you don’t happen to have a loved one to support you, the good news is that a therapist can be an excellent ‘plan B’ for relational encouragement and support.

If this has piqued your curiosity, you may want to read Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love by Sue Johnson.