We recently had our quarterly “Parent Weekend” which is an intensive weekend of growth and healing for our clients and their families. Our girls and their parents engage in 4 days of connecting and experiential activities, group and family therapies, and hours of experiential training in order to gain access to and create healing in one of 4 character capacities – this particular weekend focused on bonding. Many of our girls (and their parents) were able to recognize deficits in the basic human need and first developmental task: attachment. Some recognized enmeshed attachment, whether with a caregiver or friends. Others identified lacking in the area of need-based attachment and were able to identify obstacles to this that occurred early on in life (adoption, lack of secure attachment of parent with their own caregiver, etc.).
Every human needs attachment. Every human was born with an innate need for connection. Each child arrives in this world totally dependent on the caregiver, not only for food and physical safety but also for emotional and relational connection. When this healthy attachment is hindered, babies learn that they are not safe- that this world is not safe- and they begin to build strategies to cope with this reality, which causes issues and mental health symptoms later. They often learn that their needs are not legitimate or that it’s not safe to bring their needs to a relationship because they will not be met, so they deduct that it’s easier not to have needs at all. As we learn about the relational needs we all have and begin to identify not only what those needs but also how to verbally ask for those needs to be met by trusted, safe people, we begin to integrate new experiences: that we have needs, our needs are legitimate, and with strong relationships, you’re never left without a way to meet your needs.