Nicola Jones, 29th August 2020
Bio: Nicola works as a psychotherapist in private practice with couples, individuals and families and is Vice Chair of the International Attachment Network, UK. She trained with Relate, a national organization which specialises in relationship therapy, with the Institute of Family Therapy and further studies in attachment theory. She has an MA in Gender Studies from the School of African and Asian Studies. Nicola also trains individual therapists to work with couples and developed a short course in the use and relevance of attachment theory in relationship therapy. Nicola has undertaken speaking engagements in a variety of international settings relating to matters of social justice, sustainability and gender. Her first career was as a lawyer and family business adviser.\
This lecture looks at the interaction of couples’ attachment styles and attachment histories from the perspective of 2 areas of research and thought (polyvagal theory developed by Stephen Porges and multi-motivational interdisciplinary systems theory). The latter formulates the various motivational systems which inform human relationships such as caregiving, care-seeking, play, creativity, interest sharing, intimacy and sex.
From these vantage points one sees more clearly the adaptive defensive strategies formed by individuals in the course of their development and experience which underpin the painful patterns of interaction and cycles and the negative experience of themselves, in which couple clients get stuck.
An understanding of these strategies offers considerable help to the therapist: guiding the attention of the couple client to potentially relevant aspects of their experience, which makes more explicit their expectations of close relationships and their underlying beliefs, feelings and behaviours.
This approach greatly facilitates understanding by clients of their responses to one another, enhances the therapeutic relationship and supports clients to move out of painful experiences of blame and feelings of fear, powerlessness and anger.
A further outcome of this lecture will be to offer ways of thinking about complex concepts associated with adult couples such as the need for connection, trust, intimacy, desire, attraction and love.
Attachment theory and attachment-informed psychotherapy provides a framework for understanding how individuals form close relationships and regulate emotions across the lifespan ‘from the cradle to the grave’ (Bowlby, 1979). It is also the most reliable and research-led approach to working with clients available in current practice.