Secure Attachment Style: A Definition

parents playing with kids

Secure attachment is a healthy way of being within relationships. People with secure attachment are happy, confident, and well-adjusted. Parents can foster this attachment style in their own children from an early age by providing a nurturing environment and being awre of how their emotional reactions and responses affects their child.

What are Attachment Styles?

The theory of attachment styles began in the mid 1900s, when British psychologist John Bowlby observed the distress experienced by infants when separated from their parents. Bowlby hypothesised that babies develop a strong bond, or attachment, to their caregivers to enhance their chances of survival over the course of evolutionary history.

The research was continued to create four styles of attachment, based on the different ways children develop depending on their early experiences of care. There are four attachment styles: secure attachment, anxious preoccupied attachment , dismissive avoidant attachment, and disorganised attachment.

Defining Secure Attachment

Of the four attachment styles, secure attachment is the healthiest one. John Bowlby defined secure attachment at the ‘normative’ style of attachment, or the optimal connection made by a child with their caregivers. Securely attached people are well-adjusted and capable of forming healthy and beneficial relationships. A secure attachment style is ideal for the development of children’s minds, as the brain is organised on a foundation of safety and trust.

What Does Secure Attachment Style Look Like?

In childhood, secure attachment presents as normal levels of dependence on a parent or caregiver. As babies, a securely attached baby will be distressed when separated from a parent and will be happy when reunited. As the baby grows into a toddler and young child, they are assured their parent will always return and provide love and care when needed.

When children are securely attached, they develop the confidence to explore on their own, knowing that they will be welcomed when they return. They will be willing to try new things independently and will be less fearful of the world. They have a healthy range of emotions and react appropriately to different situations. Additionally, they have the resilience to manage problems and react well to stress. The emotional and physical availability of their parents and caregivers prevents them from developing any needy tendencies, which can result in low self-esteem and relationship difficulties later on.

As adults, people with a secure attachment style will be confident, sure of themselves, and able to trust other people. The foundation of love and care offered by their parents from a young age leads them to be capable of forming close bonds with other people. They usually are comfortable with intimacy, and they can communicate well. Securely attached people typically do not fear rejection, criticism, or abandonment. They will normally be able to develop and maintain healthy and successful relationships.

How Can Parents Foster Secure Attachment?

All parents hope that their child grows to become a confident, independent and happy individual. Often, new parents can stress and worry about how to provide the right environment to foster this healthy mindset and growth. However, creating a secure attachment style in your child is not as difficult as it may seem.

In early life, babies pick up on the emotional cues of the people around them. These nonverbal cues are the first interactions you will have will your child and will form the basis for your relationship. Even newborns want to feel comforted and secure. Before baby can communicate in any other way, they will cry, laugh, frown, and smile. Picking up on these gestures, mimicking facial expressions, and always responding with affection and warmth will allow baby to feel loved and reassured from the earliest age.

As children get older, it is important to gradually give them more space and independence. This can be tricky for some parents, but it is very important for a child’s growth and development. Children should be given the freedom to go out and explore on their own, in a safe and age-appropriate way. They key is to give them this space to explore, and always provide a comforting safe haven for them to return to. So, they may want to play in the back of the garden unsupervised, but if they trip and scrape their knee, they want to know that you are there for a cuddle when they return.

When a child is raised in this way, they develop a strong sense of trust in their caregivers, and subsequently are able to place trust in other people. They feel accepted by their parents and able to express emotion without fear or confusion. Listening to your child without judgement will help them to feel confident in their own emotional responses, which results in them being more stable over time. Children need to know that they are loved and valued, and that their parents take delight in who they are. This fosters a sense of self-worth that will continue into adulthood.

You can learn more about creating secure attachments between children and their parents in a Circle of Security parenting course. Click here for information on our upcoming programs.

Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style: A Definition

upset-couple-ignoring-each-other-on-sofa-

Dismissive avoidant attachment is an attachment style that usually presents as emotionally-distanced and highly self-reliant. Developed in early childhood, this dismissive avoidance can manifest in an inability to connect with people and form close relationships.

While our attachment style isn’t something that we can change (like the way we change our hair style), there are some techniques you can use to help build relationships and interact on a deeper level with the people you love.

What are Attachment Styles?

Everyone has an attachment style – a way of behaving within relationships that determines the way we interact with people. Our attachment styles are normally developed in childhood and can be largely dependent on the way we were parented. There are four types of attachment styles: secure attachment, anxious attachment, avoidant attachment, and disorganised attachment. Secure attachment is the healthiest style, usually resulting in confidence and contentment. However, people with different attachment styles, such as dismissive avoidant, can learn how to work with their attachment style in a positive way.

Defining Dismissive Avoidant Attachment

Dismissive avoidant attachment, sometimes also called avoidant attachment, is an attachment style that is characterised by emotional distance and disconnection. It can present as literally dismissive of attachment; unwilling to develop close and intimate connections with other people.

This attachment style is normally developed in early childhood. All children need to be offered comfort, security and attention by their parents or caregivers in order to develop healthy relationships later in life. If one or both parents or caregivers are emotionally unavailable, the child can develop dismissive avoidance attachment. These children will reject or minimise their own emotional responses and avoid contact with others. They learn early on that people are not to be relied upon, so they often won’t ask for help. These patterns continue into adulthood.

What Does Dismissive Avoidant Attachment Style Look Like?

People with a dismissive avoidant attachment style will often seem aloof, self-sufficient, and unwilling to engage in deep relationships. They can be aggressively independent and will prefer autonomy over closeness with others.

Dismissive avoidant people do not display emotion outwardly; this behaviour is learned in childhood, when emotional displays were met with apathy. They will not normally like showing affection, either verbally or physically, and may struggle to express themselves.

People with a dismissive avoidant attachment style will often come across as arrogant and self-assured, but this is usually a cover for their deep insecurities. They will appear narcissistic but overly critical of others, but this may be a method for driving people away.

If they are in a relationship, a person with dismissive avoidant attachment will be reluctant to let their partner get too close. This could present as deliberating aggravating their partner to start an argument or keep them at arm’s length. Normally romantic closeness will be viewed by a dismissive avoidant person as controlling and they will fight back against any perceived limits on their freedom.

When dismissive avoidant people become parents, they will often pass this attachment style on to their own children by being similarly emotionally unavailable and not receptive to their child’s needs.

Strategies for Dealing with Dismissive Avoidant Attachment

People with a dismissive avoidant attachment style struggle to see that there might be anything wrong with their view of the world or way of behaving towards others. Normally, they view their self-reliance and emotional stoicism as a strength.

This means that the first step to dealing with dismissive avoidant attachment is to recognise that this attachment style is not healthy. Accepting that being there for another person and allowing them to offer comfort and security to you is a positive thing is important to addressing the issue.

It can be very difficult to make these assessments of yourself, and people with a dismissive avoidant attachment style are unlikely to listen to the opinions of others around them, considering this a method of control or an unwarranted criticism. Seeking professional help from a psychologist is a good idea.

If you recognise that you have a dismissive avoidant attachment style, it is best to form relationships with people with a secure attachment style. This healthy form of attachment allows people to feel comfortable within relationships and will be the best sounding board for working through attachment issues.

What To Do if a Loved One Has Dismissive Avoidant Attachment

If you are involved with someone who has a dismissive avoidant attachment style, there are some strategies for making the relationship work. These can apply in romantic relationships, friendship, and families.

Firstly, it’s important to remember that attachment styles are deeply rooted in our psyches and cannot change overnight. Re-learning the lessons from childhood takes time and may require therapy. If you truly want to make the relationship work, you have to accept that it will be a slow process.

Because dismissive avoidant people are very sensitive to criticism and reluctant to engage on an emotional level, try discussing things on a facts-based level instead. For example, instead of talking about the way a person makes you feel (“You make me feel unwanted”), you can use examples of what they have done (“We’ve known each other for months and you won’t agree to meet my friends”).

What is Attachment Theory?

parent-and-child-at-work

Attachment theory theorises that everyone has a different style of attachment, or way of interacting with others within relationships. This attachment style determines the way we connect to other people and develop emotional bonds. Since its origins, attachment theory has become a widely accepted theory for understanding how childhood experiences shape our adult lives.

History of Attachment Theory

Attachment Theory began with the work of British psychologist John Bowlby. Bowlby was especially interested in early childhood, believing that many behavioural issues seen in children could be attributed to their earliest experiences. He observed the distress experienced by babies when separated from their mothers and hypothesised that infants had developed this response over the course of evolutionary history. This is because infants that can remain close to their parents have a stronger chance of survival.

Through Bowlby’s work, the theory of attachment was developed. His colleague Mary Ainsworth later added to this area of study by forming an understanding of how different children respond to being separated from a parent. Ainsworth’s work led to the consensus that there are four main types of attachment.

What is Attachment Theory?

Attachment refers to the emotional connections that you can have with another person. Attachment does not only refer to parent-child relationships; our attachment style affects our romantics partnerships, friendships, familial relationships, and even bonds with work colleagues.

Attachment theory is the theory that the emotional availability and care given to us in early childhood forms a basis for the way we interact with others. Children who are given attention and love develop a sense of security and are better equipped to form healthy relationships. Conversely, children who do not have these positive early experiences can develop a negative attachment style.

Adult attachment styles are the same as those exhibited by children, but they can present differently as we age. Often, the attachment style you develop is then passed on from parent to child.

Types of Attachment Styles

There are four attachment styles. Different types of attachment are formed in early childhood, but it is possible to overcome a negative attachment style later in life.

Secure Attachment

Secure attachment was defined by John Bowlby as the ‘normative’ style of attachment. This type of attachment is commonly seen in well-adjusted children who are given plenty of comfort, security and care. As babies, these children show distress when separated from their parents and joy when they are reunited by a caregiver. Even though they are upset and frightened, they are assured that their caregiver will return and offer comfort. When children securely attach in childhood, they demonstrate good self-esteem, a healthy range of emotion, and resilience to manage problems.

Anxious Attachment

Anxious attachment is an insecure attachment style that is characterised by a fear of rejection and abandonment. Children with this attachment style are often needy and eager to please. When separated from a parent, they will be distressed and not confident that their caregiver will return. Anxious attachment can develop when children experience inconsistencies from their caregivers in early childhood. For example, it may be that sometimes a parent is there to comfort them, and other times their needs are met with indifference. This causes the child to develop insecurities and be highly sensitive.

Avoidant Attachment

Avoidant attachment can be seen as the opposite to anxious attachment. This attachment style presents as disconnected and aloof behaviour. It begins when a child’s needs are not met by their caregiver, who may respond to them with apathy or rejection. This causes the child to become self-reliant and reluctant to turn to others for help and support, as they believe it will only be met with indifference. Children with this type of attachment will be distrusting, highly self-reliant, and unwilling to show displays of emotion.

Disorganised Attachment

Disorganised attachment presents in children who experience traumatic experiences. When parents fail to develop an emotional connection to their child by frightening or rejecting them, this can lead to the child developing a disorganised attachment style. These parents do not respond to their children in a consistent way, meaning the child cannot predict their caregiver’s behaviour. The child will know not to rely on the parent for security or comfort and will come to believe that no one can be trusted. This results in fear and anxiety. People with disorganised attachment often experience depression and an inability to form close emotional bonds.

Attachment Styles in Relationships

Your attachment style will determine the way you behave within relationships. Most people have secure attachment styles and can develop healthy bonds with others. Secure attachment allows people to be comfortable expressing emotion, displaying intimacy, and trusting others.

However, for people with less desirable attachment styles, relationships can be difficult. These people will often experience communication issues and a lack of intimacy. People with anxious attachment are highly sensitive to other people’s behaviour and fear rejection. People with avoidant attachment are cold and emotionally distant, driving many people away. Unfortunately, people with anxious attachment styles and people with avoidant attachment styles are often drawn to each other. Adults with disorganised attachment often experience abusive relationships and will find it very challenging to develop healthy bonds with others.

However, it is possible to overcome your attachment style and seek out a healthier way to be in a relationship. Therapy with an experienced psychologist can assist to work through attachment issues, developing better communication skills and emotional responses.

What are Core Values? How Do Core Values Affect Committed Relationships?

couple laughing together and cooking

It is important to know and understand your core values if you are starting a serious relationship.

What is a Core Value?
A core value is reflective of a belief and knowing about yourself that is essential to who we are in the world. A core value cannot be compromised. If we do compromise on a core value, we can experience internal conflict about our decision and, in the long term, risk developing resentment against our partner.

Most of us will have a small number of core values. Here are four common examples of a core value, and for each core value, there can be an opposite value:

1. I definitely want to have children
2. I definitely do not want to have children

3. I only want to live in Australia
4. I only want to live in Europe

5.  I don’t believe in living together, only in marriage.
6.  I don’t believe in marriage.

7. I am an atheist and am a very spiritual person
8. I will only marry someone with the same religious beliefs

What is Compromise?
A compromise is when we can move from our view on a value, want or a belief by examining what part of the issue we have flexibility on and then readjusting our position. Some examples of where we can compromise include:

  • How the division of household tasks is done
  • What suburb you decide to live in
  • How many guests are invited to your wedding
  • Where you go on your holiday
  • How you celebrate special events and days

When Do You Discuss Your Core Values?
Generally, you don’t discuss your core values on the first meeting or first date, however you also do not want to wait until you have developed deep feelings for the other person. If you are both looking for a serious and committed relationship it is important to discuss your core values reasonably early as you are learning about each other. This will help ensure you are both on the same page. If you have opposing core values and know you are unable to compromise on them, it is best to know this before you get to a place where you think “It doesn’t matter, this is the person I love, I can give up having children”.

If you come to realise you have a core values conflict with your partner, both of you need to take the time to explore this fully before deciding if you can compromise (it may not be a core value after all) or you decide to end the relationship because compromise isn’t possible.

Relationship counselling at this time can be supportive and helpful. Counselling can help two loving people explore whether the relationship they are enjoying is actually the best fit for them and their personal core values. They can begin to explore the question, “Is this the relationship that fits my core values and one I can see myself in for the long term?”.

Deborah is able to help individuals and couples if they are faced with a loving relationship that doesn’t have aligned core values and is causing sadness or distress for one or both people because of this.

Contact Deborah by email or her mobile to make an appointment.

Attachment Styles: A Guide to the Different Types

happy parents cuddling their child

Attachment styles are the ways in which we interact with other people and behave within relationships. There are four main types of attachment styles, which are typically developed in childhood and continue into our adult lives. Understanding these styles and recognising which type of attachment you fall into can be an important first step in better connecting with loved ones and strengthening your relationships.

It is important to note that we do not have a choice when it comes to our attachment style. It is an adaptation to our primary caregiver that we make pre-verbal. It is not something that we can switch up, like we might change our hairstyle or our fashion style.

Psychotherapy can help people gain awareness around their attachment style. Working with an attachment based therapist can help you experience different responses and, from this, many people can gradually move to learned secure attachment.

What is Attachment?

Attachment refers to the emotional relationship between loved ones. In childhood, this refers to the relationship between the primary caregiver—usually the mother, but not always—and the child. The emotional bonds we form in these early years of life influence our behaviour and development.

Attachment theory has been around for a long time. Developed in the 1960s, it was not really recognised and accepted until decades later and since then attachment theory has impacted our understanding of parenting and the ways in which our early attachment experiences can affect our intimate partner relationships. It can also affect how we will parent and attach to our own children.

The type of attachment we develop is not a choice, as children we learn from our caregivers what they can cope with and manage, and as children we make adaptations to our own needs so we can survive in our family. When we become parents we often want to do some aspects of parenting as we were parented and some we want to do differently. This is the same for relationships, we may want the same or different relationship to what our parents had.

Secure Attachment

Secure attachment is the healthiest and most desirable form of attachment style. Securely attached children are confident, happy, and secure in their belief that their parents will always be there to offer comfort. Secure children and adults have good self worth and know they are loved for being, not for what they achieve or do.

We know that secure attachment typically results from parents and caregivers who are emotionally and physically available to a child, sensitive and responsive to a child’s needs, and accepting of their child regardless of behaviour. These parents frequently play with their children and allow them a measure of independence, while always being ready to offer security when a child needs it. Children develop healthy self-esteem, confidence, and the ability to trust others.

As adults, secure attachment presents as people who are self-assured, competent, and in touch with their feelings. They are comfortable with intimacy and will typically not be concerned about rejection. These adults will normally be able to develop and maintain healthy and successful relationships.

Anxious Attachment

Anxious attachment refers to an insecure attachment style which results from the inconsistent provision of comfort and protection. This can occur when parents and caregivers only respond to a child’s needs sporadically, leaving them insecure in their belief that someone will be there for them when needed.

These children are more likely to fear abandonment and rejection. They are often described as quite needy and require ongoing reassurance throughout life.

Anxiously attached adults often have relationship issues stemming from their concerns that the other person may leave them or not respond to them in a positive way. They will often struggle with communication, be highly emotional and argumentative, and be overly sensitive to their partner’s behaviour.

Avoidant Attachment

Avoidant attachment can occur when parents are emotionally distant and disconnected from their children in early childhood. If a parent fails to respond to their child’s needs or doesn’t accept them in a sensitive and comforting way, children can develop avoidant attachment.

Because their parent or caregiver often rejects them or minimises their feelings, these children will avoid contact with their parents and become self-reliant. Children with avoidant attachment shut down their emotions and won’t ask for help when distressed.

Similarly, in adulthood those with avoidant attachment will appear cold and emotionally detached within relationships. They often prefer autonomy over intimacy and closeness, and find it difficult to show emotion. As parents, these people often repeat the cycle by being emotionally unavailable to their own child.

Disorganised Attachment

Disorganised attachment is the least common of the types of attachment. If a parent rejects, ridicules and frightens their child, the child will often develop a disorganised attachment style. These parents typically display atypical behaviour and will not develop an emotional connection to their child, often due to a past unresolved trauma.

When a child cannot rely on their parent or caregiver for any love, comfort or security, they cannot develop an ‘organised’ or predictable attachment style. While as in the other three attachment styles above the child knows what to expect from their parent and learns to behave accordingly, in a disorganised attachment style the child cannot adjust their behaviour to meet that of their caregiver.

These children experience anxiety and fear of their parent and will often become aggressive, uncooperative and extremely self-reliant. Because this type of childhood can be traumatising, these people carry unresolved negative emotion into adulthood.

Adults with a disorganised attachment style will often experience dysfunctional and sometimes abusive relationships. They can suffer from severe depression and will often appear aggressive and abusive. These people demonstrate a lack of empathy which stops them from developing emotional closeness in a relationship. Tragically, they are likely to repeat the cycle by mistreating their own children who will also develop disorganised attachment.

Providing the foundations for a secure attachment style is taught in Circle of Security parenting courses, and research tells us IT IS NEVER TOO LATE to change the way we respond to our children so they can learn to trust those around them and feel more secure.

Signs You’re In A Codependent or Interdependent Relationship

woman sitting on the couch looking upset and man behind her looking at her

Do you think you may be in a codependent relationship? Codependency and interdependency may seem similar, but while codependent behaviour can be damaging to both parties, an interdependent relationship is a healthy partnership of equals. If you think you may be a codependent person, you can overcome these patterns of behaviour and build more constructive and respectful relationships of interdependence.

What is Codependency?

Codependency refers to when a person feels dependent on someone else, typically a romantic partner, for their sense of self-worth. Codependent people find it difficult to form stable and healthy relationships, and will often have a strong desire to help or ‘fix’ another person.

They often have poor personal boundaries and find it difficult to say no, putting the needs and desires of the other person before their own. If they do something for themselves, or put self-care and rest before the needs of their partner, they experience guilt and anxiety.

A codependent person relies on the praise and appreciation of another person for their sense of worth. They can suffer from poor self-esteem and feelings of shame, causing them to seek happiness through relationships with other people rather than from themselves. These people may have anxious attachment.

What is Interdependency?

Interdependency can be considered the healthy cousin of codependency. While codependency is an unequal partnership that puts one person above the other, interdependency requires both people to be able to operate autonomously.

In healthy relationships, couples will feel closely attached and intertwined, but still capable of making their own decisions. They share power and responsibility equally within their relationship, and have healthy self-esteem. Within interdependent couples, both people feel able to express their own feelings and desires, and to listen to their partner with respect. They support each other in their own independent goals.

People in interdependent relationships will retain a good sense of self and purpose while still desiring closeness with the other person. Although they will still do things like care for each other and enjoy the praise of their partner, they will not rely on these things for their own self-worth.

Signs You’re in a Codependent Relationship

If you’re in a codependent relationship, it will often feel unbalanced. One person’s needs are typically prioritised over the other, and one person will take on the role of carer and ‘fixer’. This dynamic is unhealthy for both people within the relationship. Both the codependent person and the receiver of their attention will struggle to live independent and fulfilled lives.

Codependent People

If you experience any of the following, you may be a codependent person:
• Low self-esteem – you need your partner’s praise to feel good about yourself
• Self-denial – you rarely do things for yourself
• Conflict avoidance – you avoid bringing up problems and you feel like everything is your fault
• Guilt – you feel guilty if you do something for yourself or don’t prioritise the other person’s needs
• Reliance – you feel the need to ask permission to do things by yourself and you don’t feel good without your partner.

Partners of Codependent People

If you recognise any of the following within your relationship, your partner may be a codependent person:
• Lack of independence – a lot of tasks are done for you by your partner, even if you don’t ask for them
• Lack of accountability – you never need to take responsibility for your mistakes because your partner blames themselves
• Devotion – you feel like your partner would do anything for you and you wouldn’t necessarily do the same
• Frequent prioritisation – you normally get to make important decisions and your desires are put first
• Entitlement – you feel like you deserve a high level of attention and care.

Overcoming Codependency

It’s important to note that while you may currently be or have previously been in a codependent relationship, you don’t need to repeat this pattern forever. People can overcome their codependent behaviour and develop healthy and successful relationships.

The first step is to establish a better sense of autonomy. Get to know yourself better by focussing on your own wants and needs for a while. This could mean finding a new hobby or project, spending time with a wide circle of friends, and focussing on things that make you happy. When you have an outside life that gives you joy and purpose, you are less likely to fall back into codependency within a relationship.

If you are currently in a relationship and you want to break a codependent pattern, you should express to your partner your desire for greater independence and explain that you don’t want to be entirely concerned with them and their feelings. This may be difficult for both of you at first as you adjust to new terms within your relationship. However, ultimately your partner should be pleased for you to gain greater autonomy and a life outside their needs.

Codependency can be overcome with counselling and therapy. An experienced counsellor can work with a codependent person to rebuild their sense of self and restore feelings of worth.

Other articles that may be useful: Attachment: what is it and why is it important?

How to Deal with Grief – Grief Counselling

sad person

Grief is something that we will all experience in life. But if you’re struggling to deal with grief, you may want to consider grief counselling to assist you with working through your feelings.

What is Grief?

Grief is a type of emotional suffering that is a natural response to loss. Grief affectspeople in many different ways and for different reasons – something that causes one person extreme suffering may hardly be felt by another. But it’s important to recognise that your grief is never unwarranted or foolish.

Losses in our life can profoundly affect our sense of self and our place in the world. The death of a loved one is the most common cause of grief and can have an intensely destabilising effect. But even seemingly small or subtle losses in life, like a
child moving out of home can trigger a sense of grief.

Some causes of grief may include:

  • A relationship breakdown
  • Death of a pet
  • A health diagnosis
  • A serious illness for a loved one
  • Loss of a job or financial security
  • Loss of the family home
  • A miscarriage
  • A traumatic experience.

Grief should always be met with empathy, and never with judgement. Even if another person doesn’t understand the loss you are experiencing, you shouldn’t feel ashamed of this very natural emotional response.

The Grieving Process

There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and it does not normally happen in a linear fashion. After losing a loved one, for example, you may take some months to feel emotionally stable again, only to plunge back into suffering triggered by a memory or event.

The grieving process takes time, even years sometimes before you can begin to feel ‘normal’ more days than you feel griefstruck. Loss and grief is an individual experience that can’t be forced or hurried. Similarly, it shouldn’t be ignored or stifled. Rather, it can be helpful to get your feelings of loss out in the open and talk them through with someone you trust.

It is also important to note that when you move past the initial experience of grief, and can begin to enjoy life again, this does not mean that you have forgotten the person you have lost or the other cause of your suffering. Accepting your loss and learning to live with it is vital to continuing on in your life, but you don’t forget the people and experiences that were important to you.

Common Feelings Associated with Grief

Everyone will experience grief in different ways, but there are some common symptoms that you may feel when you are grieving. All of these are completely normal responses, and while they can be very difficult at the time, they will pass.

  • Shock and disbelief. Many people who lose loved ones report feeling like they are in a bad dream
    or an alternative reality. It can be hard to accept that what is happening is real. Feelings of numbness or difficulty to believe the truth are not uncommon.
  • Guilt. In many instances of loss, people will feel guilty about what they did or didn’t do. You may feel that if you had acted differently, the loss you are experiencing – whether that be a relationship break up, the loss of a home, or a serious health concern – would not have occurred.
  • Anger. Anger and resentment can feel like strange reactions to grief, but they are also quite normal ones. You may feel the need to blame someone for your loss, even if it wasn’t really anyone’s fault.
  • Fear. Anxiety and insecurity are common for people experiencing grief. When you have lost someone or something important to you, facing life can feel terrifying. Death also can have the effect of causing us fear about our own
    mortality.
  • Sadness. Grief is often characterised by deep, unrelenting sadness. It may take some time for this feeling of pain to pass. You may experience despair, feelings of emptiness and loneliness when you are grieving.

Alongside the emotional symptoms of grief, people also report a range of physical conditions associated with grieving. These can include fatigue, nausea, weight loss or weight gain, aches and pains, insomnia and lowered immunity. None of these are cause for additional concern, and your physical health should improve as your emotional stability returns.

How to Deal with Grief

The best way to deal with grief is to seek support from other people. Even though you may feel like withdrawing and being alone with your suffering, this will only prolong your pain and may even lead to more serious mental health issues.

Spending time with people you care about can be a good way to cope with grief. Some people will be awkward around a grieving person, this doesn’t mean you stop grieving to make them comfortable. You will find people who are able to be with you in your loss and grief and who you with feel more comfortable to share with.

Seeking help from a grief counsellor can help you to experience and express your grief and loss in a safe emotional space. An experienced counsellor can help you process these feelings without judgement but with empathy and compassion.

Grief Counselling Perth

If you’re looking for grief counselling in Perth, contact the team of compassionate experts at Perth Counselling & Psychotherapy.

The Benefits of a Circle of Security Parenting Course

Family of four

Are you considering a Circle of Security Parenting course? This program is a fantastic way to learn how to communicate with your children and offer them the support they need when growing up in the world. The Circle of Security invites parents to reflect on their relationship with their children and find ways to be with them when they are experiencing big and often overwhelming emotions such as shame, anger, sadness, even excitement.

Modern parenthood is full of pressures and expectations, and many parents will tie themselves in knots trying to get everything right. All parents are equipped to be a good caregiver for their child. We want what is best for our children and we develop close bonds with them. But knowing how to create a secure attachment while granting our children the freedom to explore new experiences can be difficult.

The Circle of Security allows parents to learn, understand, and make mistakes without judgement. The program will foster not only healthy relationships between parents and children, but lifelong benefits for the child.

What is the Philosophy Behind Circle of Security Parenting?

There is no such thing as the perfect parent – yes, it’s true! Parents who try to practice “perfect” parenting only create stress, frustration and self-criticism in themselves. Circle of Security believes in the idea of ‘good enough’ parenting. This means encouraging children to go out and explore the world, while always providing a safe and nurturing place for children to retreat to. Our children need us to be there for them when they are feeling lost, confused or out of control; they require the comfort of someone bigger, stronger and wiser than them to be kind and understanding.

When a child misbehaves, the cause is often rooted in how safe they are feeling. Understanding how to cater for your children’s needs and read their cues for when they want more freedom to explore or more safety and comfort, can result in children who act out less often.

No one gets it right all of the time. All parents will sometimes misread a cue from their child, keeping them too close when they want more independence, or not offering enough comfort when they require consolation and support. But if you meet your child’s needs enough of the time and you are a ‘good enough’ parent, it will result in happier, healthier, more secure children.

What is Involved in a Circle of Security Program?

The Circle of Security Parenting program is an eight week course that helps parents understand the concepts of the Circle of Security, learn how to identify what they are seeing in their children, and discover the best ways to respond so that they meet the emotional needs of their child.

The program is designed for caregivers of children aged 6 months to 8 years. Parents, grandparents, foster parents and legal guardians are all encouraged to attend. If your children are older, the Circle of Security training can be adapted for your needs. Everyone continues to have attachment requirements throughout their life, so no matter how old your children are, you can benefit from learning about the Circle of Security.

What is Secure Attachment?

The Circle of Security program is based on creating secure attachments between children and their parents. A securely attached child is happy and confident. They feel supported and safe exploring their world, and welcomed when they are ready to return.

When a child is raised in this way, they have a strong sense of trust in their parent.They feel accepted and nurtured, and able to talk about their feelings and express emotions without fear, confusion or panic. A child knows that they are loved and valued when their parents take delight in who they are, rather than what they do.A secure child has self worth.

Why Consider Circle of Security Classes?

Taking a Circle of Security course when your children are young has a myriad of benefits for not only your relationship with your child, but for their lifelong development.

Research shows that attachment problems in infancy and early childhood increase the probability of psychopathology later in life. Conversely, children who have a secure attachment will benefit in the following ways:

  1. They will feel more happiness and less anger at their parents
  2. They can solve problems on their own and ask for help when they are in trouble
  3. They have lasting friendships and get along better with their friends
  4. They have better sibling relationships
  5. They feel better about themselves and what they can contribute
  6. They are more protected against feeling hopeless or helpless about life
  7. They trust the people they love and know how to be kind
  8. They believe that good things will happen.

Circle of Security Parenting Program

If you feel like you and your family could benefit from the Circle of Security Parenting Program, or you want to find out more about this approach, contact us for a discussion.

Setting Personal Boundaries In Relationships: How To Do It

Couples Counselling

Setting boundaries within relationships is important to ensure we maintain our personal space and sense of self. Good personal boundaries help us to feel comfortable and safe within our relationships, while a lack of boundaries in relationships can lead to problems in communication, feelings of resentment, and a lack of trust.

What Are Personal and Emotional Boundaries?

Personal boundaries are rules or limits that a person can create within their relationships. They are guidelines that help to identify a safe, reasonable and permissible way for another person to behave towards you. Boundaries allow you to develop healthy relationships, outlining likes and dislikes and setting up limits for how a person can interact with you and how you will respond when those limits are passed.

Boundaries are important for building healthy communication and maintaining your self care. When we don’t have a good sense of boundaries, we can feel like people are taking advantage of us, leading to resentment and anger within a relationship. When we have strong personal boundaries, we feel able to say no to things and to clearly express what we do and don’t want.

Personal and emotional boundaries are important in all sorts of relationships, including romantic, familial, friendships and even work colleagues. All healthy relationships will have boundaries, whether these are clearly expressed or loosely understood.

It is important to note that good personal boundaries will differ for different people. Some people might like to have more stringent rules around their time and emotional energy and will easily feel like they are being depleted by others. Other people will be more relaxed about boundaries and have less of a need for personal space.

Good Personal Boundaries

Good personal boundaries will differ, but there are some key things that typically feature in healthy relationships. Within a communicative relationship, both people will:

  • Consider the other person’s feelings
  • Be honest about their own feelings
  • Give space, both physical and emotional
  • Show respect for differences in opinion
  • Ask permission before doing something that affects the other person
  • Listen to the other person when they express their thoughts and emotions
  • Show gratitude to the other person
  • Take responsibility for their actions.

When you have good personal boundaries, you will feel better about yourself and have a stronger sense of self-respect and power. People who have established healthy boundaries are able to:

  • Establish mutually trusting and sharing relationships
  • Be assertive about their wants and needs
  • Share power and responsibility with other people
  • Feel empowered to make healthy choices for yourself
  • Take responsibility for your own actions
  • Recognise that other people will have different boundaries to you.

Unhealthy Personal Boundaries

There is a difference between healthy personal boundaries and limitations that restrict or attempt to control people within a relationship. Boundaries like these will have a negative effect on both people within the relationship and lead to the same sorts of problems that a lack of boundaries can cause, like anger and resentment.

For example, a romantic partner should never attempt to make rules about where you can go, what you can wear, or who you can socialise with. If someone says that their personal boundaries require you to behave in a way that you don’t want to, this is not healthy.

How To Set Boundaries In A Relationship

When it comes to setting personal boundaries, it’s important to listen to your own feelings and responses. If certain actions make you feel uncomfortable, then these are the sorts of things you should consider as out of your personal boundary.

Make a commitment to honouring your own thoughts and feelings, rather than prioritising those of another person. Remember that you should never have to change your personality within a relationship, and you are always entitled to time and space if you want some.

Even when a conversation feels difficult to have, persevere and make sure it is a two- way discussion. Communication is the most important aspect to setting and maintaining boundaries – if a boundary has not been communicated, it will be difficult for the other person to respect it. Check in regularly with the other person about where their boundaries are and encourage them to do the same with you.

Some things you can do to help establish boundaries include:

  • Saying no to things you don’t want to do
  • Asking for help when you need it
  • Avoiding overcommitting to more than you can do
  • Asking for personal space and time when you need it
  • Speaking up if you feel uncomfortable
  • Prioritising yourself and your own needs
  • Only sharing personal information when you feel ready to and when it is given in return.

It can be hard to set personal boundaries, especially in the early days of a relationship when you are eager to please and impress. During this time, you may offer more of your time and energy than you normally would. It is okay to set and change boundaries as a relationship develops, as long as you clearly communicate these new guidelines to the other person.

What Is Codependency? Recognising codependent relationships

couples counselling

Codependency can prevent people from living fulfilled and independent lives. Codependent relationships display an unhealthy dynamic that is caused by a person’s sense of worthlessness and low self-esteem. However, with counselling and therapy, many people can overcome their codependent behaviours and pursue healthy and rewarding relationships.

Defining Codependency

Codependency refers to a reliance on another person, most typically a romantic partner. This reliance may be mental, emotional or physical. It is not a formal or clinical diagnosis, but psychologists and psychiatrists do use it to explain an attachment that can often overlap with other personality disorders.

Codependency most commonly begins through our childhood experiences. Emotional neglect, such as growing up in an environment where emotions are ignored or punished, can result in a child feeling shame and low self-esteem. This often leads to a dysfunctional relationship dynamic between children and their parents, and later in life, this can prevent a person from developing stable relationships.

Codependent people will often depend on other people to validate their self worth and will deny their own desires or emotions to get their approval. They frequently build their identity around helping others and being needed or relied upon.

Common Behaviours of Codependent People

People who are codependent will often exhibit a range of behaviours relating to low self-esteem and a desire to help others. Some common signs of codependency include:

  • A sense of worthlessness. Codependent people do not value themselves and often suffer from feelings of shame. They often do not believe themselves worthy of happiness but will try to get other people to value them.
  • Poor personal boundaries. Because they feel responsible for the wellbeing of other people, codependent people find it hard to say no or to put their own needs first.
  • A ‘saviour’ complex. Codependent people believe it is their duty to protect other people from harm and will often try to fix situations of behalf of a loved one. This can become problematic when the other person in the relationship never has to be held accountable or learn from mistakes.
  • Guilt and self-denial. Codependent people deny their own needs for emotional support, self care, and rest. When they do want these things, they may feel guilty and anxious. They can also find it difficult to accept help when it is offered.

A codependent person will not necessarily exhibit all of these signs. They may show only some of these traits.

Different Forms of Codependency

Many people think of codependency as occurring predominantly within romantic relationships. However, codependency refers to any imbalanced relationship pattern, where one person assumes responsibility for meeting another person’s needs to the exclusion of acknowledging their own needs or feelings.

Codependent or interdependent relationships can occur between a parent and child, between friends, and even between employers and employees.

Signs That Your Relationship May Be Codependent

All relationships will have a degree of supporting and valuing the opinion of the other person. But if this dynamic is not two-way, it may be a sign that the relationship is codependent.

Codependent people may feel like they are simply offering love and care to their loved one, but when this extends to an unhealthy dependence it can lead to problems.

If you are experiencing any of the following, you may be in a codependent relationship:

  • You feel the need to check in with the other person and ask permission to complete tasks
  • You apologise even when you haven’t done anything wrong
  • You idolise the other person
  • You spend most of your time thinking about doing things for the other person and never for yourself
  • You don’t bring up problems to avoid conflict
  • You forgive or make excuses when the other person does the wrong thing
  • You do things for the other person even if they make you feel uncomfortable
  • You only feel good about yourself when the other person praises you.

Why Codependency is Unhealthy Within a Relationship

Codependency is unhealthy for both the codependent person and the ‘receiver’ of their affections.

Codependent people are prevented from living their best, most fulfilled lives because they are always concerned about other people’s opinions of them and about ensuring the other person is happy. They will also sometimes enable negative behaviour in the other person because they cannot recognise faults in anyone but themselves.

Receivers of this are also unable to properly flourish and develop. They are not given the opportunity for independence, because the codependent person does so much for them. They may end up unintentionally taking advantage of the codependent person
if they do not recognise that this level of devotion is unhealthy.

These relationships can also be very difficult to end, because a codependent person believes the other person relies on them, and the receiver may have become too accustomed to that level of support.

How to Deal with Codependency

If you are a codependent person, there are some things you can do to identify the issue and work to overcome it.

  • Seek out counselling. An experienced counsellor can work through the underlying issues causing your low self-esteem and rebuild your sense of self.
  • Consider couples therapy. You can heal your relationship through couples counselling and therapy.
  • Make time for yourself. Prioritise self care and things that are just for you. Make time for hobbies and anything that doesn’t involve or interest the other person.
  • Reconnect with family and friends. Often when you become enmeshed in a relationship, you end up isolated from other people in your life. Rebuild those relationships to remind yourself of your own worth.
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As restrictions surrounding COVID-19 begin to ease in Western Australia, Perth Counselling and Psychotherapy is once again offering face-to-face sessions, in addition to online sessions. For those of you visiting us in-person, rest assured that we are strictly following social distancing regulations and will not have any physical contact with clients. If you have any questions, please contact your therapist for more information.