Episode 22: Attachment, Co-Dependency, and Co-Regulation
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.