attachment, co-regulation, co-dysregulation, co-dependence, independence, interdependence, secure attachment, insecure attachment

Today, we are focusing on how trauma affects attachment and how this may appear throughout life into adulthood.

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Listen in to Episode 17: Attachment and the Nervous System, if you haven’t already.

How does human relationship come from our nervous system and our body?

  • Attachment styles are very much human in that there can be many differentiating factors that limit us when we say, “I am dismissive”, “I am preoccupied” etc.
  • Oftentimes, we like to label ourselves with one attachment style. This can prevent us from trying to go deeper and to find the true nuances within our attachment. 
  • These general categories help us define what are the most common strategies in navigating the world, but they aren’t who we are. 
  • Stay curious about your own humanity and own life experiences. 

Secure Attachment versus Insecure Attachment:

  • Secure attachment- “I feel safe in sharing my true self in front of you.” 
  • Insecure attachment- “I’m having 
  • We are wired and set up for the capability for security. But when trauma occurs, this sends messages to our system that there’s a lot of obstacles  in place before we can find safety. 
  • Our strategies we use in childhood become reaffirmed in later life situations. 
  • Anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, disorganized 

The goal is co-regulation:

  • Psychological and biological experience of regulating the nervous system.
  • Being able to let go of those sympathetic activations in the nervous system (fight/flight/freeze)
  • This is safety in connection. 


  • This begins the creation of our strategies.
  • We begin to shift because of the co-dysregulation and the other may notice.
  • Is this going to lead to co-regulation or further co-dysregulation? 
  • Others have their own attachment strategies, which causes the need for us to create our own strategies.

Spectrum of relationality:

  • Our goal is to find safety and connection. There’s several ways this need shows up in strategies.
  • We are looking at how our nervous system experiences co-regulation or co-dysregulation with another.
  • On the far left, we have “Independence”
    • Opposite of co-dependence
    • Highly valued in western culture.
    • Self-sufficiency and sustainability alone
    • We may turn away from opportunities to form relationships with others. 
  • On the far right, we have “Codependency”
    • “I’m not okay if you’re not okay.”
    • Spending much time using my strategy to make sure our relationship is as in-meshed as possible. 
    • “My regulation is so dependent on your regulation.”
  • In the middle, we have “Interdependence”
    • Showing up in the relationship with awareness of what I’m bringing and inviting both of us to collaboratively share. 
    • Because we know our worth and identity, we can then come together to find what we need. 
  • We can see insecurity on both sides of the spectrum. 

How do we know what strategies are present in our clients?

  • Their interactions between me and the client. Strategies are usually put in place pretty strongly in the first couple sessions. 
  • The energy between us. 
  • The processing of other relationships in their adulthood and then, processing the relationships in childhood. 

The therapy relationship:

  • First, be curious about our strategies and have the opportunity to explore them. 
  • When our systems can feel what it’s like to find true safety and connection, then we have the chance to eventually take it out into the real world. 
  • Lastly, the active ingredient of healing is the relationship that emerges between the therapist and the client. 


  • Finding safe relationships to experience how we can let down our strategies, with a trusted person. 
  • Human beings are so adaptive and our goals as humans is to find safety and connection.