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Title: Breaking the Cycle: Healing Trauma and Building Healthy Attachment Patterns

Over the course of our lives, we encounter a variety of experiences. Some are pleasant, others less so, and some are traumatic. Trauma can have profound effects on our mental and emotional health, impacting our ability to form healthy relationships and establish secure attachments. However, through understanding and therapeutic intervention, we can break the cycle of trauma and cultivate healthier attachment patterns. This blog post will discuss trauma, its impact on attachment, and therapeutic strategies to promote healing and healthier relationships.

Understanding Trauma

Trauma is an emotional response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s capacity to cope. These events can vary widely, from a single instance of physical or emotional harm to recurring abuse or neglect, each leaving its unique imprint on the psyche.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders can arise from unresolved trauma. Beyond these, trauma can also disrupt the development of secure attachment patterns, setting the stage for ongoing challenges in interpersonal relationships.

The Impact of Trauma on Attachment Patterns

Attachment theory, pioneered by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, emphasizes the importance of early relationships in the development of our ability to form connections with others. The quality of care received during infancy and early childhood shapes our "attachment style" – secure, anxious, avoidant, or disorganized – which can persist into adulthood.

Children who experience trauma often develop insecure or disorganized attachment patterns. They may struggle to trust caregivers, regulate their emotions, and form healthy relationships. In adulthood, this can manifest as difficulties in romantic relationships, friendships, and parent-child bonds.

Breaking the Cycle: Healing Trauma

Fortunately, the cycle of trauma and unhealthy attachment patterns can be broken. Psychotherapy, particularly trauma-focused therapies, can play a pivotal role in facilitating healing and change.

Embodied Relational Gestalt Therapy Embodied Relational Gestalt Therapy (ERGT) is a therapeutic approach that integrates elements of Gestalt Therapy, Body Psychotherapy, and relational psychoanalysis. ERGT understands that trauma is often stored within the body and can manifest as somatic symptoms or ingrained patterns of behavior.

In ERGT, the focus is on the 'here and now.' Therapists encourage clients to bring awareness to their immediate bodily sensations, emotions, and thoughts, helping them to recognize and break away from unconscious patterns of behavior developed as a response to trauma.

The relational aspect of ERGT is also significant. This therapy emphasizes the therapeutic relationship as a tool for healing and change, using it as a safe space where healthier attachment styles can be experienced and explored.

By encouraging awareness of bodily sensations, emotions, and the surrounding environment, ERGT facilitates a holistic healing process. It can help individuals break the cycle of trauma, forge healthier relationships, and develop a more integrated sense of self.

Somatic Psychotherapy Somatic psychotherapy, also known as body psychotherapy, is a therapeutic approach that understands the profound interconnection between mind and body. It acknowledges that trauma often leaves a somatic imprint, influencing how individuals inhabit and relate to their bodies.

In somatic psychotherapy, therapists guide clients to develop increased awareness of their bodily sensations and movements. Through this body-focused approach, clients can start to recognize and release the physical manifestations of trauma, facilitating emotional healing and transformation. Somatic psychotherapy techniques include deep breathing, movement exercises, and guided visualization. These techniques are designed to help individuals reconnect with their bodies, often leading to the release of pent-up trauma and stress.

This approach is particularly beneficial for those with a history of trauma, as it offers a way to address the often overlooked physical dimension of their experiences. By bringing attention to the body, individuals can learn to recognize and challenge their automatic responses to stress, breaking ingrained patterns of thought and behavior.

Through this work, clients can cultivate a more harmonious relationship with their bodies, improving their overall well-being and capacity for healthy attachment.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) EMDR is another evidence-based approach for trauma treatment. It uses bilateral stimulation (eye movements, tactile stimulation, or sounds) while the client recalls the traumatic event, aiming to facilitate the brain's natural healing process. EMDR assumes that the mind can heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. The aim is to reprocess traumatic memories, reducing their lingering effects and allowing clients to develop more adaptive coping mechanisms.

Building Healthy Attachment Patterns

While addressing trauma is critical, it's also important to work on building healthier attachment patterns.

Attachment-Based Therapy Attachment-based therapy draws on the principles of attachment theory to help individuals understand their attachment patterns and their origins. This therapeutic approach can help clients understand the impact of early relationships on their current interactions, offering a pathway to change.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) EFT is particularly effective for couples struggling with insecure attachment patterns. It aims to cultivate a secure bond between partners by promoting understanding and empathy. By helping partners tune into their own emotions and those of their partner, EFT can facilitate more effective communication and conflict resolution, fostering a healthier relationship dynamic.

Summary Healing trauma and breaking unhealthy attachment patterns is a multifaceted process, requiring therapeutic approaches that address both mind and body. Embodied Relational Gestalt Therapy and somatic psychotherapy provide a way to address the physical manifestations of trauma, often leading to profound emotional healing and personal transformation.

By integrating these therapies with trauma-focused and attachment-based approaches, individuals can break the cycle of trauma, build healthier relationships, and move towards a more secure, integrated sense of self. Ultimately, the path to healing is unique for everyone, but these therapeutic modalities provide valuable tools for those seeking to navigate this journey.

Reach out for support.


1. Cook, A., et al. "Complex Trauma in Children and Adolescents." Psychiatric Annals, vol. 35, no. 5, 2005, pp. 390-398. 2. Bowlby, J. "Attachment and Loss: Vol. 1. Attachment." Basic Books, 1969. 3. Siegel, D. "The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are." Guilford Press, 1999. 4. Shapiro, F. "Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy, Third Edition: Basic Principles, Protocols, and Procedures." Guilford Publications, 2018. 5. Johnson, S. "The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy: Creating Connection." Brunner-Routledge, 2004. 6. Perls, F., et al. "Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality." Julian Press, 1951. 7. Levine, P. "Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma." North Atlantic Books, 1997.

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