What is an unresolved attachment?

When we are young we need to feel that we are protected by our caregivers.

Imagine this situation.

A child breaks an ornament at home. His parents tell him not to worry and ask him if he has hurt himself.

In this instance, the child may have felt worried but then reassured and protected by his parents reaction. The attachment looked for by this child was “resolved” in this case.


A child breaks an ornament at home. His parents raise their voices in anger against him. He feels anxiety which causes him to need to rescue his parents’ feelings so he says “sorry”.  They then tell him he is always clumsy, causing him to feel shame and rejection. He now needs even more protection from his anxious feelings.

Eventually his parents settle down and calm resumes.

The boy is glad peace has been restored however his initial need for attachment remains “unresolved”.

The frequency of situations like these will decide how well the boy, then the man, is able to self sooth. The more care and consideration he has been shown will determine the care and consideration he is able to show himself.

Whatever intervention I offer in my work this week in Bournemouth, Poole or Dorset ( as a couple counsellor, with teenagers and adolescents and as a family therapist) be it, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), Mindfulness, Psychodrama, Person Centered Therapy, Humanistic Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Psychoanalysis, Solution Focused Therapy, Integrative Therapy or Family Therapy, I will be mindful that as a counsellor my commitment to forming genuine caring relationships is paramount.