By Gil Tunnell, PhD
This issue of Transformance is a Special Edition devoted entirely to Senior Faculty member Karen Pando-Mars’ project on working with different attachment styles.
Karen’s work is groundbreaking and a brilliant contribution to the AEDP literature. It is with much excitement that I introduce her article.
Described initially by John Bowlby and then documented and expanded in Mary Main’s research with 18-month-old toddlers in the “Strange Situation,” there are four distinct attachment styles: Secure, Insecure/Avoidant, Insecure/Ambivalent and Disorganized.
AEDP teaches us how to activate the transformance pathway from the get-go, in the very first session, to begin the process of healing. However, even with their transformance-focused AEDP therapists, many patients do not begin treatment having Secure attachment, which would allow therapy to proceed more smoothly with less defense work at the “top of the triangle.” When that is not the case, the therapist must deal with Insecure or Disorganized attachment styles, and “top of the triangle” work plays a more central role in the treatment.
For several years, Pando-Mars has been studying diligently what she does clinically that is different for patients with each attachment style. She has refined what she has learned, and this article is the result. As she says, it is a work in progress.
Pando-Mars first elaborates on Fosha’s original description of the four attachment styles (The transforming power of affect, 2000), providing rich theoretical descriptions of their differences. She then describes how she works with each style specifically. Case vignettes demonstrate what the sessions look like in real time. Finally, she has developed three highly detailed—but at the same time very succinct—Grids as quick guides to how Insecure and Disorganized patients appear when they begin AEDP in “self-at-worst” mode, what each style distinctively needs from their AEDP therapist, and interventions to help clients grow into a more Secure attachment, i.e., functioning as “self-at-best” more of the time.
In her introduction to this special issue of Transformance, Diana Fosha places Pando-Mars’ work in the more meta-context “of what has come before it and the new era I think it is ushering in,” by which she means, an innovative, AEDP-specific way of working with psychopathology.
Although Karen Pando-Mars’ article is longer than usual, please take your time to savor it. “Tailoring AEDP Interventions to Attachment Style” is a valuable and significant contribution to AEDP.[pdf-lite]