Therapy Books

Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller

By Jade Donnelly

Three heart cut outs hanging on wire. Art symbolising attachment styles in relationship therapy

Set out more like a relationship how to manual, this is a book about attachment styles, how they play out in our romantic relationships as adults, and what we can do to navigate the relational “traps” that can arise because of our early attachment experiences.

I personally have found it to be a fantastic adjunct to counselling with clients who are struggling in their relationships and wondering why certain patterns keep repeating. Providing an accessible overview of attachment theory and relatable examples of how our attachment style can play out romantically, my clients report that after reading Attached they have a deeper understanding of their relationships and feel much more in control of their own part of the dynamic, as opposed to obsessing over the things they simply can’t control.

Hands linked at index fingers both with anchor tattoos

The authors give an overview of the three main attachment styles and how to recognise them, providing useful questionnaires so the reader can determine their and their partner’s type. Anxious people are often preoccupied with their relationship and tend to worry about their partners ability to love them back. Avoidant people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimise closeness. Whereas secure people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.

Through this understanding, the different types of conflict that can arise in relationships are explored to help us to bring the underlying causes into the light.

Black and white image showing man and woman turned away from each other in the shadows.

Most conflict occurs when attachment styles clash. For example, when couples disagree about the degree of intimacy required in a relationship (e.g. when one partner is anxious and the other is avoidant), the issue eventually threatens to dominate all of their dialogue and ultimately cause the relationship to break down. This situation is called the “anxious avoidant trap” because, like a trap, you fall into it with no awareness, making it difficult to break free.

In their “five secure principals for dealing with conflict” the authors help us to sharpen our relationship skills in a way that promotes effective communication. They counsel that by raising our awareness of our attachment style, and therefore our trigger points, we can better navigate the traps and find a way forward in our relationship that honours both person’s style and emotional needs.

Two pink balloons floating together in a blue sky.

Guidance on managing and recovering from a breakup is also offered for each attachment style to help us to better hold ourselves through the difficult times.

The layout of the book makes it easy to find the information you need, and the content is clear and concise, making it an invaluable tool for anybody who wants to improve their relationships or counsellors who simply want to refresh their understanding of attachment theory.

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