What does a healthy or unhealthy attachment history look like, and how can you spot it when you’re in session with a client? Therapist and author Stephen Porges, originator of the Polyvagal Theory, is an expert on the matter.
In a clip from Porges’s Networker Symposium address, “The Science of Therapeutic Attachment,” he gives the answer, and explains how social engagement and social bonding—”the building blocks of healthy relationships,” he says—can stave off conditions like anxiety and depression.
If your clients are hyperactive or prone to outbursts, Porges says, the problem may lie in an attachment trauma.
“Very little attention is given to [trauma victims],” Stephen says. “People are more interested in the legal aspects of rape and abuse and less interested in helping and listening to those who’ve experienced these traumatic events,” he adds. “We’ve become a society that doesn’t respect responses.”
Knowing how to spot these responses in therapy, Porges says, could make all the difference in helping your clients heal.
Stephen Porges, PhD, is Distinguished University Scientist at Indiana University, where he’s creating a trauma research center within the Kinsey Institute. He’s author of The Polyvagal Theory.