From Scared to Repaired: Using an Attachment-Based Perspective to Understand Situational Couple Violence

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Abstract

Situational couple violence (SCV) is a common problem in couples presenting for therapy. SCV, as seen through the lens of attachment, can be viewed as a result of an insecure attachment system within the couple. Although several authors have discussed individual attachment styles as predictors of both the receipt and perpetration of violence, in this article we seek to portray the attachment system as a relational and changing construct. As such, we argue for conjoint treatment for SCV as a way to restructure a more secure attachment system within the couple. Cautions for the appropriateness of couples counseling with ongoing violence are included. Finally, we discuss the use of an attachment-based safety plan and time-out strategy to use with couples experiencing SCV.

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