Fostering a Healing Relationship
— Andrew Fountain: May 10, 2018
- The role of relationship in healing
- Attachment theory
- Core Concepts
- Seven Practical tools
Slides will be uploaded to attaching.org
The root cause of psychopathology is aloneness, —which results from sin
- Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone…” [Gen 2:18]
- …they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. [Gen 3:7]
- And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” [Gen 3:10]
- Our growing knowledge of the brain shows that so much of it concerns relationship that has been called a “relational organ”
- What is the most successful therapy?
- Studies of the effectiveness of different therapy modalities
indicate that the kind of modality is much less significant than the quality of relation between the therapist and client.
- Overwhelmingly, it almost doesn’t matter
- It’s the quality of the relationship with the therapist!
- I find this very exciting because this is what Christians should be good at
- We are the love of God manifested to the world!
2. Attachment theory
- Hear me, O LORD, when I cry aloud!
Be gracious to me and answer me!
- My heart tells me to seek your face,
and I do seek your face, O LORD.
- Do not hide your face from me!
Do not push your servant away in anger!
You have been my help!
Do not forsake me or abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
- Even if my father and mother abandoned me,
the LORD would take me in.
- I would argue that the single biggest advance in psychology in the last 20 years has been the science of adult attachment
- Totally different to most of the other secular models, and fits extremely well into a biblical anthropology
- Back in the 1900’s John Bowlby observed children. What he saw was radically at odds with his Freudian training
- He teamed up with Mary Ainsworth who devised a standardized test to see how 12-month old children attached to their mothers
- Later Mary Main came up with the Adult Attachment Interview, to test how adults handle close relationships
- It has been found that behaviour at 12-months is a strong predictor of adult behaviour
- Not only that, but anxious attachment is passed on to the next generation
- Even grandparents to grandchildren?
- Recent studies at UofT and Ryerson involved 2000 dating couples, and predictions fell in line with expectations
- It is unusual in psychology to get such rigorously repeatable hard results across culture and social groups
- But the cycle can be broken by the experience of a single safe attachment figure
- There are many other places where David uses this same imagery
- Can a woman forget her baby who nurses at her breast?
Can she withhold compassion from the child she has borne?
Even if mothers were to forget,
I could never forget you!
- Look, I have inscribed your name on my palms;
your walls are constantly before me.
- Abraham’s entire story is about attachment—can he trust God?
- Covenants are primarily about attachment
- Attachment language is even stronger in the New Testament
- Culminating in Union with Christ whose love nothing can separate us from
- But the problem is that we have trouble receiving the love of God if we have never had a deep human attachment experience.
- Not that God can’t supernaturally bridge this gap
- But in the normal state of things, the heart of Jesus is that his community should be so filled with divine love
- That people would experience God’s love through us
- I thank my God every time I remember you…
- I always pray with joy in my every prayer for all of you…
- For it is right for me to think this about all of you, because I have you in my heart…
- For God is my witness that I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
- Paul’s love is a physical manifestation of the love of Christ
- They are literally and tangibly experiencing Christ’s love through Paul’s love
Psychopathology and healing
- The rigorous evidence coming from attachment theory indicates that attachment damage is easily the strongest predictor of psychopathology
- A secure attachment style predicts resilience in the face of trauma.
- The evidence is that a single secure attachment relationship can be a catalyst for healing
- A secure trusting relationship between two people provides a secure base for dealing with painful memories and trauma
- Healing involves undoing aloneness so that we know we are deeply seen and loved
3. Core Concepts
- (I don’t have time to develop these.)
3. Core Concepts
- People have an in-build capacity for self-healing.
- This might seem to run against the truth of the fall, but if you consider that God has built into all of our bodies an immune system and a wonderful healing capacity, then it is not unreasonable to suggest that at some level the brain can self-heal when placed in a safe and healthy environment. (of course this built-in healing is damaged by sin)
- Healing comes from “undoing aloneness”:
A new deep and secure attachment relationship with a trusted “stronger and wiser” for exploration of old trauma, and a new experience of attachment that can be taken out into other life relationships.
- Our stance is not impersonal. Not only are we vulnerable and self-disclosing (essential for attachment) but suspend our own needs for the sake of the one we are helping to be a “true other”.
- Healing begins to take place right from the very start.
4. Seven Practical tools
4. Seven Practical tools
- Creating safety through empathy and self-disclosure
- Other tools include vocal rhythm, intonation & pitch together with non-verbal communication
- The individual’s reaction to different interventions must be carefully tracked because of wide individual differences, e.g. in attachment style.
- Privileging the positive, not the pathological
- The natural tendency is to go to the pathology, but instead they should actively look for what is going well, the new and the different.
- Moment to moment tracking
- Noticing small changes in posture, movement, facial expressions, eyes and voice.
4. Seven Practical tools cont’d
- Making the implicit explicit
- “I just noticed a big sigh—tell me about it!”, “I’m feeling very moved by what you just said”
- Privileging the “here and now”
- “What does it feel like right now to have shared that story with me?”
- Affirming and delighting in the person
- “I am so impressed at your courage in making that connection.”, “It’s such a joy to see the way you are growing as we do this work together”
- Asking permission and being respectful
- “Would it be ok with you if we slowed down and explored how that made you feel?”
- “well Eric, I must confess I feel a little bit vulnerable doing a demo like this for the first time in front of these people”
- I want to tell you, I’m so pleased to see you, and it must have taken a bit of courage to agree to see me, so well done!
Updated on 2018-05-10 by Andrew Fountain