The Secure-Base Hypothesis: Global Attachment, Attachment to Counselor, and Session Exploration in Psychotherapy

McGill University.
Journal of Counseling Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.23). 10/2008; 55(4):495-504. DOI: 10.1037/a0013721
Source: PubMed


This study explored J. Bowlby's (1988) secure-base hypothesis, which predicts that a client's secure attachment to the therapist, as well as the client's and the therapist's global attachment security, will facilitate in-session exploration. Volunteer clients (N = 59) and trainee counselors (N = 59) in short-term therapy completed the Experiences in Close Relationship Scale (K. A. Brennan, C. L. Clark, & P. R. Shaver, 1998) as a measure of adult global romantic and peer attachment orientations; the Client Attachment to Therapist Scale (B. Mallinckrodt, D. L. Gantt, & H. M. Coble, 1995) as a measure of attachment to counselor; the Working Alliance Inventory (A. O. Horvath & L. Greenberg, 1989) as a measure of working alliance; and the Session Evaluation Questionnaire-Depth Subscale (W. B. Stiles & J. S. Snow, 1984) as a measure of session depth. In line with Bowlby's hypothesis, the findings suggest that session depth is related to the client's experience of attachment security with the counselor and that counselor global attachment moderates the relationship between client global attachment and session exploration. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved).

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Available from: Marilyn Fitzpatrick, Jun 15, 2015
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    • "In addition, researchers have found that it is the interaction between therapist and client attachments that is important to study (Marmarosh et al., 2014; Mohr et al., 2005; Romano et al., 2008); however, we did not measure client attachment and were not able to examine how client and therapist attachments together relate to ruptures and repairs. Prior researchers have found that therapists and clients do not share the same perceptions of ruptures in treatment (Safran et al., 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Although extensively discussed in theoretical papers, empirical studies of therapist attachment and perceptions of ruptures and repairs are lacking. The present study examined the relationship between therapist attachment anxiety and avoidance and their perceptions of rupture tension, effort, and repair. Twenty-two novice therapists completed a measure of adult romantic attachment and a measure to assess perceptions of ruptures and repairs following the eighth session with their first clients. Results revealed that there was a strong positive correlation between therapist attachment anxiety and effort spent focused on perceived ruptures and a moderate positive correlation between attachment anxiety and rupture tension. There was no significant relationship between attachment anxiety and perceived repairs of ruptures. Attachment avoidance was not significantly correlated with either perceptions of the ruptures or repairs. Therapists who were higher on anxiety and avoidance, more fearful therapists, reported the most ruptures. Limitations and implications of the findings are presented. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
    Psychotherapy Theory Research Practice Training 03/2014; 52(1). DOI:10.1037/a0036129 · 3.01 Impact Factor
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    • "The present study was designed to examine the association between ECR attachment avoidance and attachment anxiety and the client's attachment to the therapist over the course of psychotherapy at three time points: Early, middle, and late sessions. Previous research has examined the link between client attachment to the therapist and psychotherapy process variables such as the working alliance and session depth and smoothness (Mallinckrodt et al., 2005; Romano et al., 2008). Researchers have only recently begun to test the relationship between the CATS and psychotherapy outcome (Mallinckrodt, 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: We examined the associations between client attachment, client attachment to the therapist, and symptom change, as well as the effects of client-therapist attachment match on outcome. Clients (n = 67) and their therapists (n = 27) completed the ECR to assess attachment. Method: Clients completed also the Client Attachment to Therapist scale three times (early, middle, and late sessions) and the OQ-45 at intake and four times over the course of a year of psychodynamic psychotherapy. Results: Clients characterized by avoidant attachment and by avoidant attachment to their therapist showed the least improvement. A low-avoidant client-therapist attachment match led to a greater decrease in symptom distress than when a low-avoidant therapist treated a high-avoidant client. Conclusions: These findings suggest the importance of considering client-therapist attachment matching and the need to pay attention to the special challenges involved in treating avoidant clients in order to facilitate progress in psychotherapy.
    Psychotherapy Research 03/2014; 24(3). DOI:10.1080/10503307.2014.892646 · 1.75 Impact Factor
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    • "Hereby, one could assume that a relationship between the patients and therapist could not yet be established or influences taken place. However, helping alliance in the research was already measured before the 10th session (Romano et al., 2008), which is in line with the present design. Even so, the results have to be replicated on patients with a long-term psychoanalytical investigation with pre-and post-measurement points of the attachment representation. "
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract This study examines the relationship between the therapist's own attachment representation (Adult Attachment Interview, AAI) and the patient's attachment relationship to the therapist (client's attachment to the therapist, CATS). The attachment representations of n=22 psychotherapists who treated n=429 patients were assessed. A general effect of the secure/insecure therapist attachment status on the attachment of the patient to the therapist was not found whereas the more specific effects expected could be confirmed: The more preoccupied the therapist's attachment status was, the more the patient experienced a preoccupied-merger attachment to the therapist. The more dismissing the therapist's attachment status was, the more the patient experienced an avoidant-fearful attachment to the therapist. In summary, not the general security/insecurity of the therapist's attachment representation but rather the type of the insecurity is associated with the subjective patient's attachment-related experience of the therapeutic dyad.
    Psychotherapy Research 11/2012; 23(1). DOI:10.1080/10503307.2012.717307 · 1.75 Impact Factor
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