The Arc of the Program

What do the Different Attachment Disturbances Look/Feel Like?  

Secure adults show a healthy balance between attachment and healthy exploratory behaviors in relationships.  They are also comfortable being alone.  They can tolerate it.  They have a strong sense of themselves both individually and in the context of keeping that strong sense of self in relationship to others as well. They are often reflective and open about their feelings and have a lot of positive feelings about intimacy.

They clearly value attachment in the way that they talk about their relationships. 

Dismissing people choose not to do relationships in an intimate way.  They find some way of staying distant within the relationship.  They are dismissing of conflict and extreme emotions.  At times they could be quite aloof or contemptuous.  They show a special mistrust about depending on others and a special difficulty getting too close.  Underlying this is a deep fear of getting too close.  They’ll often minimize their feelings, and talk as if feeling and memory is remote to them.  

Adult with Preoccupied attachment show excessive worry about closeness of relationships.  They’re always afraid that the relationship won’t last or their partner with be unfaithful or reject them in some way.  They have an excessive need for approval.  At the root of that is a poorly developed self, because they had to be outward in focused.

The 1st stop in the program is to get your AAI done.  It takes 45 minutes to an hour usually, and can be completely administered online.   We have numerous people trained to administer this assessment.  Dr. Zack can usually get your result within 1 week!  Your results will go straight to your clinician, or whomever you are working with, so you can go over it in private in your next session.  So a little more detail about the process…  If you are interested in this work, contact us through the web page or email and let us know.  We will give you some initial forms to fill out and get you on the schedule.  Each step is explained very carefully so you have a good understanding and don’t have to worry about that.  If you know you want to schedule an AAI, then you can do that with Dr. Zack or Josh.  If you are unsure and need to have more information before you decide to invest in this process, then one of the team will gladly take a 15 or 20 minute call and answer all of your questions to the best of our ability.  

Stop 2: Discuss your Results and Begin 1st Secure Imagery Session using Ideal Parent Figures (IPF)

are the AAI classifications and subclassification:

U (Unresolved due
to abuse, loss, and/or other trauma)

CC (Cannot Classify) – Opposing Styles, like E2/Ds3 would be CC/E2/Ds3

F (secure/autonomous)

F1 (some setting aside of
F2 (somewhat dismissing or restricting of attachment)
F3 (prototypically secure/autonomous)
F4 (strong expressed valuing of relationships, accompanied by some
manifestations of preoccupation with attachment figures, or past trauma)
F5 (somewhat resentful/conflicted while accepting of continuing involvement))

E (preoccupied with or by early
attachments or attachment–related experiences)

E1 (passively preoccupied)
E2 (angrily preoccupied, conflicted)
E3 (fearfully preoccupied by traumatic events)


Ds (dismissing of attachment)                                                                                            Ds1(dismissing of attachment)                                                                                                 Ds2(devaluing of attachment)                                                                                           Ds3 (restricted in feeling)
Ds4 (cur off from source of ear of death of the child) 

The Final Stop: Dedicated Three Pillar Work with One of Our Trained Staff

Depending on your particular nuanced attachment syle(s), you will develop, in your imagination, Ideal Parent Figures (IPF) that are completely and ideally suited to meet each and every one of your attachment needs.  And we know that there are 5 conditions that, when met, allow for secure attachment to bloom.  And, therefore, these conditions guide the IPFs throughout the co-created imagery.

1. The child feels safe

First and foremost, as a parent you want your child to feel protected. If your child feels protected, it feels safe.

For the infant and toddler, safety means closeness to the mother, as she is the source of food, warmth, and protection. Danger means separation from her, beyond the comfort zone.

The attuned mother is fiercely protective but not overwhelming, intrusive, or ignoring. She gives her child space and freedom to explore the world, but stays close enough, so that the child has a felt sense of safety.

When the infant strays too far and becomes frightened, they know that they can run to her and envelop her in a warm, protective embrace, secured against the world.

This conveys a message: “You are safe. You are loved. You are lovable.”

2. The child feels seen and known (attunement)

Attuned parents can read their baby’s cues accurately and respond to their needs accurately.

Attuned responses give infants information about the effects of their behavior.

Children learn that when they signal a need, they can expect a prompt, predictable, and accurate response.

The result for the baby is a feeling of control over their lives, starting early on:

  • When I signal that I’m hungry, and I get fed
  • If I signal that I’m tired, and my caregiver rocks me to sleep
  • When I signal that I’m upset, and my caregiver soothes my distress

3. The child feels comfort, soothing and reassurance

The attuned parent’s arms are open and inviting.

When the child is distressed, the caregiver reassures and soothes the child back to a calm emotional state.

Helping the child manage their distress and frustrations will help them develop an internal model of being soothed and comforted.

Over time, the child will develop the ability to manage his or her own distress and self-soothing.

4. The child feels valued/Delighted in their being

Feeling valued begins in infancy and is the foundation of healthy self-esteem development.

Parents who raise children with healthy self-esteem repeatedly express their joy about who the child is rather than what the child does. They focus on Being rather than Doing.

Such parents exhibit “expressed delight” to the child and about almost everything the child does. They focus not on the chores, but on the joys of parenting.

5. The child feels supported to explore

Lastly, children need to feel supported to explore their world joyfully and safely.

Parents who champion this have a deep faith in their child and always provide him or her with a safety net. Deeply involved in their child’s life, parents give the child space and thrust him or her towards autonomy and independence.

This sense of security allows the child to explore, discover, succeed, and fail; and through such exploration, the child develops a good, autonomous, strong, and unique sense of self.