Can adults with insecure attachments develop a more positive view of themselves and change the long-term interactive patterns they demonstrate in relationships? Since these patterns have existed since childhood and are deeply embedded in their unconscious beliefs and neurological pathways change is not easy, but certainly possible. An awareness of your attachment style and that it affects your relationships with partners, children and other loved ones is an important first step. Change in attachment style can come about in a number of ways.
Some adults, despite their insecure attachments, may engage with a partner who is able to accept and understand their insecurities, not respond in negative ways and over time repair the damage from the early childhood relationships. In time the positive experience in the adult relationship overrides the early belief that intimate relationships are not trustworthy and safe.
Although such a positive experience can occur, most adults with insecure attachments will need to enter therapy to change their beliefs about and patterns in relationships. They will need to develop a relationship with a therapist who has knowledge about Attachment Theory, who will understand their attachment patterns in relationships and allow this pattern to develop in the therapeutic relationship. In the past decade there has been a greater effort on the part of some therapists and theorists to apply Attachment Theory to clinical practice with both individual adult therapy and also couples' therapy. Over time the therapist will need to help the adult client/patient to develop insight into himself/herself, work through his or her losses and hurts from childhood and risk change in both the therapeutic relationship and natural intimate relationships. Redeveloping a secure adult attachment is possible and is sometimes referred to as an 'earned' Secure Attachment.
Adult relationships differ from infant/child relationships in that they are mutually interactive. In parent/infant relationships the parent is the giver, not expecting the child to meet their adult needs. Each individual in an adult relationship must be both giver and receiver. At times in an adult relationship one partner may be more stressed and in greater need of support, requiring the other partner to be more nurturing and giving. At other times of stress, the other partner may be more the recipient of the support and nurturing. It is this mutual give and take with understanding and the capacity to receive less for a period of time, which characterizes healthy adult attachment relationships.