Attachment Theory in Clinical Practice:
From Reactivity to Responsiveness
Friday, February 9, 2018
This workshop will explore how attachment theory, neuroscience and evolutionary psychology can help therapists understand the nature of reactivity in close relationships and in light of that understanding strategies for helping clients learn how to be more responsive, rather than reactive.
Attachment theory has been conceptualized as a theory of affect regulation. Affect is a central aspect of personal relationships. Seeking proximity to an attachment figure during times of emotional distress is the primary strategy that helps both children and adults survive these periods and reestablish hope, optimism and emotional equanimity. Proximity-seeking can be physical, but it can also be psychological (thinking about an attachment figure).
Individuals with secure attachment generally respond adaptively to stressful partner interactions, whereas individuals with insecure attachment demonstrate a variety of maladaptive emotion regulation strategies. These behavioral strategies are activated immediately and are often expressed before the individual realizes what is happening. When automatic affect strategies are adaptive, the outcome is generally positive. When the automatic strategies are maladaptive (such as verbal attacks, emotional withdrawal, intense anger, aggression, etc), the outcome is usually much less positive and often results in extreme relationship discord, disfunction and eventually one or both member of the couple seeking therapy. Though an understanding of these processes, therapists can implement a variety of strategies to reduce emotional reactivity in clients and help individuals experience more productive interpersonal relationships.
Daniel Sonkin, Ph.D. is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in an independent practice in Sausalito, California. Since 1981, his work has focused on the treatment of individuals and couples facing a variety interpersonal problems. As one of the early specialists in the field of family violence, Dr. Sonkin has developed a widely used protocol for treating perpetrators and is an international speaker on domestic violence. He is the author of numerous books and articles on domestic violence, child abuse and attachment theory. For the past twenty-five years he has been integrating attachment theory and neuroscience into his clinical practice. He is now involved in several research projects examining the effects of secure base priming on attachment security and mood. In addition to his clinical practice, he was an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Counseling at Sonoma State University from 1994 through 2004, a former member of the Ethics Committee (1989-1998) and is a former member of the Board of Directors (1998-2000) of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. He is the recipient of the 1989 Clark Vincent Award for Literary Contribution to the field of Marriage and Family Therapy from the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and is the 2000 recipient of the Honorary Distinguished Clinical Member Award from the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.
Time: Networking is from 11:30 to 12:00 p.m. Presentation begins at 12:00 pm and ends at 2:00 p.m.
CEUs: This workshop meets the qualifications for 2 CEUs for LMFTs, LCSWs, LEPs and LPCCs. These will be provided by Marin CAMFT (CEP # 56895), which is approved by CAMFT to sponsor CE for LMFTs, LCSWs, LPCCs and LEPs. Marin CAMFT maintains responsibility for this program and its contents contact Laurie Buntain, Continuing Education Director for more information.