Adult Attachment in Romantic Relationships: Overcoming
the Fear of Love
Lisa Firestone, PhD, instructor
Both clinicians and researchers have
noted the importance of close interpersonal relationships for the development
of personality, character, and overall well-being. Attachment patterns formed
early in life influence our relationships throughout our lives, most
particularly our romantic relationships.
What prevents most people from being
able to sustain romantic, meaningful relationships that satisfy their needs and
desires? Why do people often feel compelled to punish those closest to them?
What are the factors that determine whether partners will end up experiencing
love and fulfillment in their relationship or suffering pain and distress? This
workshop helps answer these questions by providing participants with a
theoretical model that integrates psychodynamic, existential, and family
systems frameworks in a manner that can increase clinicians’ understanding of
and ability to assist individuals in developing and maintaining intimacy in
The internal defenses individuals
bring to the relationship are often at the root of the deepest conflict or
distress between couples, regardless of external forces. Gottman’s research on
the predictors of the longevity of a relationship focuses on four key behaviors
which lead to relationship failure. The four behaviors are: being critical,
contemptuous, dismissive, and using stone walling in the relationship. Often
these styles of relating stem from the influence of early childhood experiences
and the (insecure) attachment patterns, or defensive adaptations each partner
in the relationship developed to cope with his or her early interpersonal
environment. The ways each partner learned to cope, that were adaptive to their
early environment but that are no longer appropriate, influence their
relationships from partner selection to provoking their partner to treat them
in a manner similar to how they were treated by their early
Unlike many psychoanalytic theories,
attachment theory has been vigorously researched during the past 35 years.
Researchers have identified some notable (and measurable) patterns of
attachment: secure, anxious, and avoidant. There is now good evidence
concerning the mental and neural processes underlying these patterns, (internal
working models), the relation of the patterns to particular forms of
psychopathology and unhappiness, and the potential to intervene to increase a
person’s basic sense of security and the success of his or her close
relationships with others.
Workshop participants will learn how
to help couples challenge defensive behaviors, remnants of their attachment patterns
that interfere with closeness and intimacy. Elements of emotion focused
therapy, which has been used to address adult attachment issues as they
manifest in adult romantic relationships, will be integrated into the workshop.
Specific learning objectives:
Recognize how methods or defenses formed to deal with pain and anxiety in childhood later come to limit people as adults in their ability to develop and sustain secure, fulfilling attachments.
- Summarize how the concept of the fantasy bond, an imaginary connection formed between partners, relieves anxiety yet interferes with real closeness in relationships.
- Apply the techniques of Voice Therapy to help partners identify and challenge negative thoughts toward themselves and their partner.
- Assess couple dynamics through the use of objective instruments and use this information to inform treatment planning.
Program Code: AARR
6 CE Credits MFT
Location: at MSPP, Newton
Lisa Firestone, PhD, is
a clinical psychologist and Director of Research and Education at The Glendon
Association. She is involved in clinical training and research on suicide and
violence, resulting in the development of the Firestone Assessment of
Self-destructive Thoughts (FAST), the (FASI) and the Firestone Assessment of
Violent Thoughts (FAVT), published by PAR Publications. She is co-author of The Self under Siege, Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice, Creating a Life of Meaning and Compassion
and Sex and Love in Intimate
Relationships. Dr. Firestone is a highly regarded workshop facilitator in
the topics of suicide, violence and family relations.
Event Type:Continuing Education Program
Category:Innovators - Clinical Practice
|Early registration ends on Oct 12, 2014.|
Regular registration starts on Oct 13, 2014 and ends on Nov 24, 2014.
Late registration starts on Nov 25, 2014.