VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.
Neuroplasticity as an Explanation for the Attachment Process in the Therapeutic Relationship
Many mental health disorders can be traced back to the quality of the attachment between the infant and primary caregiver. Psychopathology is often developed by the initial attachment (Mundo, 2006). For example, antisocial personality disorder is characterized by an individual’s inability to care about others and feel remorse. These individuals may not have learned how to connect with others as a result of the quality of the attachment relationship with the primary caregiver. If an individual does not learn how to connect with others early on, he or she may be vulnerable to an inability to connect in social relationships. Therefore, in terms of psychopathology, repeating the attachment process may be a necessary component of counseling. In order to aid in the attachment process, it may be necessary for clients to relearn how to form a bond or attachment to another individual. In these situations, the counselor may need to be a new attachment figure. Thus, an important task of the counselor is to form an attachment with the client that establishes a secure attachment and from which the client could use this relationship as a secure basis for other relationships. While it may not be important to mimic the entire attachment process as was utilized for reactive attachment disorder, it might be helpful to model other more therapeutically relevant aspects of the attachment process in counseling such as affect regulation and attunement.