András Láng: Attachment as nonspecific factor in psychotherapy

Attachment theory more than 50 years after its birth is still widely considered as a developmental theory valid only for childhood. Since mid 1980s a growing body of research has shown that attachment theory can be a fruitful theoretical paradigm for understanding adult relationships — including patient-therapist relationship. Since publications on attachment theory and its innovations are numerous, only the following characteristics are highlighted: place of attachment theory in the history of psychology, representational nature of attachment and its role in affect-regulation.  In this paper the main objective is to present psychotherapy relationship as an attachment via case vignettes. Some important moments from an actual therapy is presented to illustrate the following: how the attachment style of the patient influences her ability for bonding, how transference work is built upon attachment and how the therapist and therapy itself becomes a secure base in the life of the patient. Since attachment theory has roots in evolutionary theory, psychoanalysis and cognitive psychology, this theory is suggested to be an appropriate integrative framework in conceptualizing psychotherapy relationship, including affect regulation regardless of method applied.

Keywords: attachment theory — psychotherapy — affect regulation — nonspecific factor

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