Alda Counselling

Therapy Does Help

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Attachment theories

Atmary-ainsworthtachment theories stem from the research carried out by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. Bowlby posited that a child has an innate drive to attach to their caregivers for survival reasons. He suggested that healthy psychological development occurs when there exists a secure attachment between a child and their caregiver.

Mary Ainsworth, inspired on Bowlby’s theories, conducted research that proved Bowlby’s theories to be true. Following her research, 4 attachment styles were identified:


  • Secure attachment: A secure child has an inner image of themselves as a lovable self and responsive other, with enjoyable interactions alternating with exciting explorations in an interesting world. As adults, their description and evaluation of attachment experiences is consistent, with positive and negative aspects.
  • Insecureambivalent: An insecure-ambivalent child has an image of themselves as unlovable and an unpredictable other who has to be manipulated or coerced into caring. As adults, they are preoccupied with past attachment experiences. Their narrative tends to be long. They can appear passive, angry or fearful.
  • Insecure-avoidant: An insecure-avoidant child has an internal model of self as not being worthy of care and an other who does not care, forcing the child to repress their longing and their anger. This could result into numbness of feeling. As adults, they may talk about a “normal, excellent mother” while their description of facts does not show coherence and is plagued with contradictions. They tend to be brief in their narrative.
  • Unresolveddisorganized: An unresolved-disorganized child has a disorganized response to their caregivers’ presence. As adults, during discussions of loss or abuse, they may show lapses in their narrative. For example, speaking of a dead person as if they were alive.

Knowing your attachment style and your loved ones can help you better understand how you relate to others and how they relate to you. In counselling, attachment styles can be changed.

In his insightful book about attachment and psychotherapy, David Wallin describes how an attachment-based therapy can produce change. “The role of the therapist is to help the patient both to deconstruct the attachment patterns of the past and to construct new ones in the present.” The patterns created in our first relationships (as babies with our main caregiver) are present in how we relate to and also to our habits of feeling and thinking. An attachment-based therapist will look at your attachment style and will aim at providing an experience that will change it into a more secure attachment.

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Psychobable explained

explanationWhat is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?

Counselling focuses on a specific issue that you wish to resolve. For example, you may wish to become more assertive in your professional life and stop being overwhelmed by all the work that is being thrown at you because of your inability to say ‘no’.

It is a short-term commitment to a number of sessions (depending of the specific issue) in order to explore only that issue.

Psychotherapy is a long-term, deeper process. It takes time and effort on your part, but it may allow you to start uncovering what makes you feel stuck, lost or lacking meaning. You may start recognising negative patterns of behaviour and changing them for others that help you enjoy a rich and fulfilled life.

You may be able to work out any past trauma in a safe environment and maybe for the first time in your life, you may feel as if you and your life are really something special you would like to invest time in.

What is the difference between a counsellor and a psychotherapist?

Basically, a psychotherapist has trained for longer than a counsellor. Both may work similarly depending on their training and your issues, but certain conditions are preferably treated by psychotherapists due to their extensive training. Both counsellors and psychotherapists attend continuous professional development workshops. I am both a counsellor and psychotherapist and have attended complementary workshops on different areas, including working with trauma, HIV and multicultural counselling.


What is a psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a doctor that specializes in treating mental health conditions, such as major depression, bipolar disorder…. A psychiatrist can prescribe medication for those mental health conditions. If you live with such a condition and require medication, you will be treated by a psychiatrist, but can still benefit from psychotherapy sessions. They can both be combined to achieve better results. I have worked as a psychotherapist with people who were taking anti-depressants, mood stabilizers or other medications, prescribed by their psychiatrist.


What is neuroplasticity?

Neuroplasticity or brain plasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. It is a new term recently coined by neuroscience. It is relevant for counselling and psychotherapy, because it proves the efficacy of counselling and psychotherapy. This means that the distressing patterns that brought you to psychotherapy can be changed.