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Creating Secure Attachment

Attachment styles are ways of thinking about and behaving in relationships. Someone with a secure attachment style believes they can rely on their closest relationships, while someone with an insecure style struggles to trust their connections with others.

Shaped largely by early childhood experiences, attachment styles can persist throughout the lifespan, affecting the quality and outcome of adult relationships. With time and effort, those with an insecure attachment style can become more securely attached.

The Creating Secure Attachment worksheet offers research-backed suggestions for working toward secure attachment in adult relationships. These include learning about one’s attachment style, examining beliefs about relationships, and acting opposite to one’s anxious or avoidant style, among others.

Use this worksheet to support clients wishing to become more securely attached in their relationships. Check in with clients on a regular basis to assess how well they are implementing the suggestions. You can also use this tool to address insecure attachment in the context of couple’s therapy. Consider also distributing the worksheet to colleagues with an interest in attachment issues.

For another attachment-related tool, see our Attachment Styles and Romantic Relationships worksheet.

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References

1. Antonucci, T., Akiyama, H., & Takahashi, K. (2004). Attachment and close relationships across the life span. Attachment & Human Development, 6(4), 353–370.

2. Beeney, J. E., Stepp, S. D., Hallquist, M. N., Ringwald, W. R., Wright, A. G. C., Lazarus, S. A., Scott, L. N., Mattia, A. A., Ayars, H. E., Gebreselassie, S. H., & Pilkonis, P. A. (2019). Attachment styles, social behavior, and personality functioning in romantic relationships. Personality Disorders—Theory and Treatment, 10(3), 275–285.

3. Columbia University Department of Psychiatry. (2022, February 9). How attachment styles influence romantic relationships. https://www.columbiapsychiatry.org/news/how-attachment-styles-influence-romantic-relationships

4. Davila, J., Burge, D., & Hammen, C. (1997). Why does attachment style change? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(4), 826-838.

5. Fraley, R. C. (2018). Adult attachment theory and research: A brief overview. http://labs.psychology.illinois.edu/~rcfraley/attachment.htm

6. Ha, L. (2021, November 11). Recognizing our attachment style can help us in our relationships. Stanford Couples Counseling. https://www.stanfordcouplescounseling.com/recognizing-our-attachment-style-can-help-us-in-our-relationships/

7. Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. (1987). Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(3), 511-524.

8. Jones, B. A. (1983). Healing factors of psychiatry in light of attachment theory. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 37(2), 235–44.

9. Manson, M. (n.d.). Attachment styles and how they affect your relationships. https://markmanson.net/attachment-styles

10. Nielsen, S. K. K., Lønfeldt, N., Wolitzky-Taylor, K. B., Hageman, I., Vangkilde, S., & Daniel, S. I. F. (2017). Adult attachment style and anxiety - the mediating role of emotion regulation. Journal of Affective Disorders, 218, 253–259.

11. Paquette, V., Rapaport, M., St-Louis, A. C., & Vallerand, R. J. (2020). Why are you passionately in love? Attachment styles as determinants of romantic passion and conflict resolution strategies. Motivation and Emotion, 44(4), 621-639.

12. Sbarra, D. A., & Hazan, C. (2008). Coregulation, dysregulation, self-regulation: An integrative analysis and empirical agenda for understanding adult attachment, separation, loss, and recovery. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 12(2), 141–167.

13. Selcuk, E., Zayas, V., & Hazan, C. (2010). Beyond satisfaction: The role of attachment in marital functioning. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 2(4), 258–279.

14. Shi, L. (2003). The association between adult attachment styles and conflict resolution in romantic relationships. American Journal of Family Therapy, 31(3), 143–158.

15. Umemura, T., Lacinová, L., Kotrčová, K., & Fraley, R. C. (2018). Similarities and differences regarding changes in attachment preferences and attachment styles in relation to romantic relationship length: Longitudinal and concurrent analyses. Attachment & Human Development, 20(2), 135–159.

16. Zhang, H. (2012). Self-improvement as a response to interpersonal regulation in close relationships: the role of attachment styles. The Journal of Social Psychology, 152(6), 697–712.

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