Adult Attachment Anxiety: Using Group Therapy to Promote Change

Authors

  • Cheri L. Marmarosh,

    Corresponding author
    1. George Washington University
    • Please address correspondence to: Cheri L. Marmarosh, Professional Psychology, George Washington University, 1922 F Street, Washington, DC. E-mail: marmaros@gwu.edu. Giorgio A. Tasca, Regional Center for the Treatment of Eating Disorders, Ottawa Hospital–General Campus, Box 400, 501 Smyth Road, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1H 8L6. E-mail: gtasca@toh.on.ca

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  • Giorgio A. Tasca

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Ottawa and Ottawa Hospital
    • Please address correspondence to: Cheri L. Marmarosh, Professional Psychology, George Washington University, 1922 F Street, Washington, DC. E-mail: marmaros@gwu.edu. Giorgio A. Tasca, Regional Center for the Treatment of Eating Disorders, Ottawa Hospital–General Campus, Box 400, 501 Smyth Road, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1H 8L6. E-mail: gtasca@toh.on.ca

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  • Giorgio A. Tasca holds the Research Chair in Psychotherapy Research at the University of Ottawa and Ottawa Hospital.

  • Data presented here were collected as part of a study funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

Abstract

Group therapy can facilitate changes for members with greater attachment anxiety who tend to struggle with negative self-perceptions, difficulties regulating emotions, poor reflective functioning, and compromised interpersonal relationships. A clinical example of a therapy group with members who had elevated attachment anxiety and who were diagnosed with binge eating disorder demonstrates how attachment theory can be applied to group treatment. The clinical material from the beginning, middle, and end of group is presented to highlight how attachment anxiety influences members’ emotional reactions and behaviors in the group, how group factors facilitate change, and how the leader fosters the development of a secure base within the group. Pre- to posttreatment outcomes indicate positive changes in binge eating, depressive symptoms, and attachment avoidance and anxiety. To facilitate change in individuals with greater attachment anxiety, group therapists may foster a secure base in the group through group cohesion, which will facilitate down regulation of emotions, better reflective functioning, and relationships that are less preoccupied with loss and more secure.

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