Attachment Therapy in San Diego, CA

Why is Attachment Therapy Important for Young Children & How Can It Help?

Get Help for Your Child

What is Attachment Therapy?

Attachment theory suggests that the quality of early attachment relationships with a primary caregiver significantly impacts a child’s emotional and social development. According to the National Library of Medicine, “Our instinct for attachment…is a basic adaptation for survival in infancy.” When children are under any type of stress, such as being scared, feeling sick, etc., their attachment system goes off like an alarm. This alarm system is when infants engage in crying or other behaviors to reconnect with their primary caregiver. Children seeking their caregivers’ attention exhibit behaviors that tend to match their developmental age as they get older. For instance, babies cry, toddlers cry and have temper tantrums, and older children can also be verbal about their distress.

How parents respond to babies and toddlers influences the formation of attachment styles. A parent who is aware of a baby’s need for a secure attachment and is responsive to what children need helps to create a secure attachment. For example, securely attached children express distress directly to their parents because they believe the caregiver will be responsive. Children seek comfort from caregivers without hesitation and are easily comforted by their parent or caregiver in moments of distress.

However, children can develop insecure attachments if a parent consistently misses a baby’s or toddler’s reaches or cues for security. These may include ambivalent, avoidant, or disorganized attachment styles.

mother and son attachment therapy

Insecure Attachment Styles:

Insecure attachments are most commonly assessed by observing the child’s reaction to brief separations and reunions between themselves and their caregivers. According to the APA (American Psychological Association) Dictionary, the following are definitions of different types of insecure attachment styles:

Anxious-Ambivalent Attachment:

“…in which infants show a combination of positive and negative responses toward a parent.” This attachment happens when a parent is inconsistently available to the child’s needs. An example is after a parent picks a toddler up from daycare, the child may cling to their parent when they get them and not want to let go. Or they may hit their parent, expressing anger at them being gone or interrupting their activity to go home. Children will often display high levels of distress during separation but with no ability to be comforted by the caregiver upon return.

Anxious-Avoidant Attachment:

“…in which infants do not seek proximity to their parent after separation. Instead, the infant does not appear distressed by the separation and avoids the returning parent.” An infant or young child can develop this when they have a caretaker or parent who only provides basic physical needs, like food and shelter. An example would be a toddler seeing a parent approach their preschool and doesn’t appear to care they are there. Children may not seek physical or eye contact or ask for help and show little need for closeness or comfort from their parent.

Disorganized Attachment

“…a form of insecure attachment in which infants show no coherent or consistent behavior during separation from and reunion with their parents.” A child may reach for their parent in need of comfort, then act afraid of their parent when responded to.

What is a Secure Attachment?

A secure attachment is when a child seeks comfort and safety from their secure base: their parent or caregiver. An example of a secure attachment is when a young child is at a park with their parent. They will venture out to the play equipment, interact with other children, and then return to their parent and hug them. Checking in with their parent, they feel the security of them being there. Then, they go off again, only to return to check in at another interval. That child knows the parent is there as a secure base they can come to whenever they feel insecure, scared, or if they just want to ensure they are still there. That child feels secure with their parent, demonstrated by their emotions being easily regulated.

What is Attachment Therapy & How Can It Help?

Attachment Therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on building a secure attachment between a child and their caregiver. This type of therapy is often used for children who have attachment issues due to sudden or prolonged separation from a caregiver, trauma, neglect, medical issues, etc. These situations can result in attachment injuries, interrupting the bond between a child and their parent.

Attachment Therapy can include parents to help children develop a secure and healthy attachment. Attachment therapy often involves play or talk therapy, both with and without the parents present, depending on the child’s age. The therapist may also focus on improving communication and trust within the parent-child relationship, as well as addressing any negative behavioral patterns that may be stemming from the attachment issues.

father and daughter attachment therapy

How Does Attachment Therapy Work?

Attachment therapy aims to create a safe and nurturing environment for the child to develop a secure attachment with their caregiver while addressing any underlying issues that may impact their emotional and behavioral well-being. The therapist needs to create a supportive environment to help develop strong, trusting relationships with the child and parent for the therapy to be effective.

Who Does Attachment Therapy Help?

  • Babies, 0-2 years: Build initial secure attachment with their caregiver.
  • Toddlers & Preschool Age Children, 2+: Develop emotional regulation through parent interactions and modeling with the therapist.
  • Kindergarten/Young Elementary School, 5-8: Improve emotional regulation and help deal with negative behaviors.
  • Elementary School & Pre-teen, 9-12: Support social changes and trust between a parent and child; decrease behavioral issues at home and school.
  • Teenagers, 13-18: Improve parent-child relationship to support child in adolescence.

How Can Family Connections Therapy Help?

You do not have to do this alone.

Our team of dedicated child therapists is here for you and your family.  We provide evidence-based and confidential psychotherapy services to kids, teens, adults, and families.  We provide Attachment Therapy services for children from all over the San Diego area.

For the first session, parents and children meet together with their San Diego attachment therapist to get to know each other and identify goals for treatment.  As kids become more comfortable, they will begin meeting individually with the counselor for attachment therapy.  We highly value family involvement in our treatment. That is to say, we include parents and often other family members to promote your child’s progress while at home.

Some difficulties go beyond what the child is struggling with, which is why we also offer Family Therapy services dedicated to helping the entire family system.

Here are some of the issues we have helped families work through:

  • Disobedience and rebelliousness
  • Managing feelings of anger and frustration
  • Loss of connection or engagement with family members
  • Parent-child difficulties
  • Breakdowns in communication
  • Traumatic life events (car accidents, health issues, violence, etc.)
  • Loss and grief
  • Addition of new family members
  • Divorce and separation
family attachment therapy san diego

If you and your family have struggled with any of these difficulties, do not wait.  Contact Family Connections Therapy today and learn how we can help make things better.

Start Your Journey

Get Help With Attachment Issues From A Children’s Therapist in San Diego, CA

If you or your child is in need of help, Family Connection Therapy is here for you! We can help you and your child develop the necessary skills to flourish and grow healthy relationships. Follow these steps to get started!

  1. Book an appointment online or call our office today at (858) 776-8804. 
  2. Have your first appointment with one of our Attachment/Children’s Therapists. 
  3. Start getting support & improve your parent-child relationship 

Other Therapy Services We Offer in San Diego, California

We provide a wide array of counseling choices to assist both you and your child. Our team of children’s therapists specializes in addressing ADHD, fostering attachment and healthy development, and facilitating play therapy. For adults, our services encompass individual therapy, effective depression treatment, and anxiety therapy. We also conduct family therapy, expert reunification therapy, and court-ordered parenting classes.  These services are conveniently available virtually to California residents or in person at our San Diego-based office.