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Presencing Secure Attachment with Diane Poole Heller

Attachment Theory in Practice: NP0028 – Session 1

Learn how to best engage clients with avoidant, ambivalent/anxious, and disorganized attachment styles. Join Diane Poole Heller as she distinguishes between the four basic attachment styles and shows therapists techniques designed to offer clients an emotionally corrective relational experience.

After the session, please let us know what you think. If you ever have any technical questions or issues, please feel free to email

Posted in CE Comments, NP0028: Attachment Theory in Practice | Tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Presencing Secure Attachment with Diane Poole Heller

  1. Marilyn Scholze says:

    I experienced a lot of frustration at the interruption of flow by Rich in this presentation. I did want to hear about the presentation of clients in other styles, not just avoidant, but Rich kept steering the conversation in ways that may have met his needs , but not mine. I liked what I heard, I just wanted more, because Diane’s way of explicating the style she talked about was so different than reading a clinical book on the styles.

    • JulieKriegler says:

      I had the same experience and would love to hear about the different languages that you speak for the different adaptations.

      I love your energy, vitality, knowledge, and articulate manner of presenting the material. As a student of and practitioner of relational, attachment based work for many years I found your presentation to be one of my favorites/most valuable. That is why I wanted to hear more.

  2. Lynn Mikkelsen says:

    Hello Diane — thank you for sharing your enthusiasm for this work. Would it be possible for you to give one intervention or some typical phrases of reassurance that would apply to a person with ambivalent attachment style? Thank you. Lynn

    • JulieKriegler says:

      Yes please. You tried several times to introduce your “language for the other attachment styles of adaptations and the interview did not allow this. I would love to hear this as well. Thank you.

  3. Roia says:

    First, I really enjoyed listening to Diane describe her work, and one of the things that struck me most (meaning I’d like to do some more reading/thinking about it) is this idea of “adapting away from secure attachment”. I guess, mostly, it was a wonderfully descriptive way to put words to what I often see with my clients. I especially appreciated hearing how, paradoxically, our (therapists included) ways of adapting to insecure versions of primary attachments are meant to *maintain* the attachments we have (however, unhealthy they may be) and carry forth into our present lives.

    All that said, my immediate thought, as I was listening, was that this approach is very much a melding of object relations theory (with less of the language of object relations) and neuroscience with a bit of a cognitive behavioral approach thrown in. This theory that our earliest relationships shape how we relate to people as we move through our lives was put forth quite a while ago by the object relations crowd. I think, as neuroscientists, in their research, discover neural components to attachment elements, it’s now possible to more clearly articulate what was simply observed and theorized in the past.

    I think, if I understood correctly, what was being conveyed by Diane (and Rich seemed to either not get that or was trying to get Diane to say it more specifically for the sake of the webinar) was that the therapeutic relationship is the healing factor. Sure, there are specific corrective experiences the therapist offers, but, ultimately, *being in the relationship fully* with the client and observing it together (again, this is object relations, as I understand it) is the work of the therapy and, in the end, the thing that provides for a shift in the client’s (and therapist’s) experience.

    As a music therapist, I find inviting clients (and observing their reactions to and/or avoidance of this invitation) to use improvised music-making to explore their relationships (to significant people, to me, etc.) is the way I “throw pebbles in the pond” to learn about their attachment/relational styles.

    Thanks again, both of you, for some interesting dialogue and inspiration for further thought!

  4. Thomas Bruce says:

    I found Diane’s description of her work extremely interesting and helpful. However, one element of the webinar was frustrating for me, That is that Rich, usually a masterful interviewer, was quite a bit over directive. Thus, he interrupted Diane when she tried to describe how she works with the ambivalently attached person and never returned to this vitally important piece. Would it be possible for Diane to write a piece here on the comment board or via email ( to repair that omission?

    Also, I would very much like to obtain the questionnaire that Diane uses in the assessment phase. Is that also possible?

    Thank you very much,
    Tom Bruce

  5. Thomas Bruce says:

    P.S. Or maybe we could have a bonus session (as in the trauma series) in which Diane could describe how she works with the ambivalent, disorganized and the secure attachment style clients.

    Thanks again,
    Tom Bruce

  6. sarah schroeder-lebec says:

    I greatly enjoyed this webinar as well, but agree with the above comments regarding the omission of discussion regarding work with ambivalently attached clients. I would love to hear more about this, as more clients I come across as a social worker in a community mental health clinic often present with ambivalent attachment adaptations than they do avoidant.

    This webinar was wonderful, though, and Diane’s style of presenting was dynamic and invigorating. Thank you for having her in this series!

  7. Marilyn Scholze says:

    The attachment questionnaire you referenced above is on Diane’s website. I tried it after the webinar. Her website is

  8. Thank you, Diane and Rich, for this helpful and inspiring conversation. It was lovely hearing the Hakomi-esque exercises and probes being used in such a natural and productive way. I’m wondering if you explicitly use mindfulness in your sessions, as would a Hakomi therapist? And if so, how you introduce it?
    Also…I am currently focusing on adoptive parents who are experiencing a great deal of challenge with their children who have deep attachment issues and trauma/neglect histories. I generally don’t have the opportunity to work in a deeply therapeutic way with the parents, who are wanting mostly to understand how to help their children heal and become more self-regulated. I would love to hear your (Diane)take on how to be most helpful for these families (usually Mom), in addition to teaching them parenting that is quite alternative to our mainstream parenting models. (Relationship-based, non-consequencing, attunement- and empathy-focused)
    Diane, do you ever see young adults who were in multiple placements,”bad” placements, disrupted adoptions, etc, in your practice? Do you write about these clients anywhere that I might be able to read?
    Thanks again for your contributions to this field.
    And, I actually appreciated Rich’s staying with one attachment style, so that we could move more deeply into what the feel of Diane’s model is; I think we can generalize to the other styles.

  9. MAdams says:

    I too really wanted to hear the language style of ambivalent, disorganized, etc. attachment personality styles during this session. Outside of this I really liked this session because it gave you a lot of how to use attachment theory in the room with a client. That is really helpful and I was very grateful for some of the specific interventions Diane shared with us.


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