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Monday, December 23, 2019

How are attachment styles distributed in the U.S. population?



Levine and Heller in their book, Attachment, suggest that about 50% of the population in the U.S. exhibit a secure attachment style while 20%  exhibit an anxious attachment style, 25% an avoidant attachment style and 5% may be disorganized or some combination. These percentages are guesstimates and I don’t know at this writing of a better scientific basis for judging any different. There is some evidence that anxious attachment styles are increasing with the rise of social media resulting in poorer face to face interpersonal skills. Turning to social media for solace when upset does not seem to have the same physiological calming effect as physical presence and touching.

In the psychotherapy office, the majority of clients seeking consultation usually exhibit an anxious attachment style. It is less frequent to meet with a person with an avoidant attachment style unless that person is encouraged or coerced by another person to go for counseling. The most symptomatic clients seeking psychotherapy may have a disorganized attachment style and often they are diagnosed as suffering from Borderline or some other Personality Disorder.

The main benefit that people obtain from a psychotherapeutic relationship is to create a supportive relationship with a counselor who has a secure attachment style whom the client can use as a secure base from which to explore and experiment and make changes in their life.

This is post #3 in a series on Attachment Styles.

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