The Relationship Between Trauma and Attachment
- Early traumatic experiences interfere with healthy brain development, including attachment functioning.
- Persistent exposure to traumatic experiences can inhibit or even damage healthy attachment functioning.
- Healthy, secure attachment helps to buffer the impact of trauma.
- Persons with attachment weaknesses are more likely to be impacted by traumatic events, but the severity and frequency of trauma exposure makes anyone vulnerable.
- Because attachment is based in TRUST, it may be difficult for those who have experienced trauma to trust others.
- When the attachment system is activated (that is, when we feel stressed, unsafe, or threatened), our attachment behavior patterns begin to emerge automatically.
- These split-second reactions occur faster than we are aware, making it very difficult to recognize or control unhealthy and unwanted thoughts or behaviors.
- Our bodies have built-in mechanisms intended to react in ways that keep us alive and safe, but sometimes those subconscious triggers affect our perceptions regarding threat and safety.
- The brain can adapt and heal at any age with specific therapeutic interventions offered at CATS.
How We Can Help:
- Because our clinicians all have a solid understanding of attachment and trauma, we are able to implement specialized therapeutic strategies to help resolve trauma and strengthen attachment.
- We also educate family members about the meaning behind the behaviors observed that seem to be prohibiting an attachment from forming.
- The earlier a family receives support, the faster the healing process.
- Optimal times for early intervention include:
- A child being adopted
- A child entering foster care
- A child entering kinship care
- Immediately following a trauma or loss
- Birth trauma (for mother, father or infant) or NICU separations
- Perinatal or postpartum depression or anxiety
- At the first sign of family or individual struggle