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The Search for the Secure Base: Attachment Theory and Psychotherapy [Paperback]

Jeremy Holmes
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

12 July 2001 1583911529 978-1583911525 First Edition
In recent decades, attachment theory has gained widespread interest and acceptance, although the relevance of attachment theory to clinical practice has never been clear. The Search for the Secure Base shows how attachment theory can be used therapeutically. Jeremy Holmes introduces an exciting new attachment paradigm in psychotherapy with adults, describing the principles and practice of attachment-informed therapy in a way that will be useful to beginners and experienced therapists alike. Illustrated with a wide range of clinical examples, this book will be welcomed by practitioners and trainees in psychotherapy, psychoanalysis and in many other disciplines.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; First Edition edition (12 July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583911529
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583911525
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 15.6 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 37,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

I'm a retired UK National Health Service Consultant Psychiatrist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist. I now work in private practice seeing patients once a week, and am visiting Professor at the School of Psychology at the University of Exeter, where we set up a psychoanalytic psychotherapy Masters and now Doctoral programme, combining academic with professional training in psychoanalytic work, especially for those working in the public sector.
I live on a farm in beautiful North Devon --in the middle of nowhere! In some ways that cuts me off from the mainstream of psychoanalytic and psychiatric life -- but it also enables me to develop my own ideas and to get an overview of the field, which is sometimes harder when is in the thick of things.
My main interest has been in Attachment Theory and I continue to follow the Attachment literature and in my writing to bring Attachment ideas to bear on psychoanalytic thinking and practice. Working part-time means that I can go to my desk most mornings for an hour or two where I try to read and write, before attending to the garden, family life with my wife, the garden, music, running, and learning Spanish (our grandson lives in Peru).
A recent book, Exploring In Security, is an example of this -- it is also a rather personal book trying to encapsulate some of the things I've learned about the day to day practice of psychoanalytic psychotherapy. I wrote it by melding together material from a daily diary -- a sort of primitive blog -- with lectures and papers I've delivered over the past ten years or so, since my previous single-author book, The Search for the Secure Base.
Recently I've written quite a few papers for academic journals, usually arising out of lectures -- on The Superego, The place of Theory n Psychoanalytic work, Integrative approaches to Psychoanalysis, and Relational Psychoanalysis. I am currently interested in the topic of Intimacy, and I suspect my next book will explore that theme.
I've won a couple of awards recently: in 2009 I was awarded the New York Bowlby-Ainsworth award for contributions to Attachment Theory. In 2010 Exploring In Security: Towards an Attachment-informed Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy won the Canadian Psychological Association Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy Goethe award for the best book of the year.
2012 sees my radical re-write of Anthony Storr's classic The Art of Psychotherapy (Taylor & Francis), a practical guide to the business of trying to help troubled people with psychotherapy. For publication 2013: with my friend and colleague Arietta Slade I am compiling a 6 volume collection of the 120 best Attachment papers since Bowlby began the whole Attachment movement (SAGE); I am updating John Bowlby and Attachment Theory (Routledge), which was written 25 years ago; The Therapeutic Imagination: using Literature to deepen Psychotherapeutic Understanding (Routledge) shows how great literature can help us as psychotherapists with its prototypical characters and capacity to capture the essence of what it is to be human. Projects for the future include Selected Papers, and a new book looking at psychic change and how psychotherapy helps to to acheive it.

Product Description

About the Author

Jeremy Holmes is Consultant Psychotherapist in North Devon and Senior Lecturer in Psychotherapy in the University of Exeter. He is current chair of the psychotherapy faculty of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. He is the author of over 100 papers and book chapters as well as 10 books, including the acclaimed John Bowlby and Attachment Theory and Introduction to Psychoanalysis, with Anthony Bateman.

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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Poet's Response 25 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a book to read with a highlighter. It is complex and multi-layered though written in an accessible style; its concepts are fully explicated with plenty of interesting clinical examples. There is a brief attachment based intervention handout in the index that asks such emotionally bulls-eye questions as: 'Who did you turn to as a child when distressed, ill or tired?', 'What happened when you were upset or cross?' and 'Did you ever try to run away?'.

The ideas and research findings of Attachment Theory (AT) founded by Bowlby alongside Mary Ainsworth have been gaining popularity in therapy circles over the last decade. AT puts the search for security above all other psychological motivations. Secure pathology arises when the individual is confronted with danger but has no secure base to turn to - or the secure base itself is a source of threat. Aggression towards the self or others is a result of the anxiety this provokes. Insecure children do not relate successfully towards their peers and tend to being victims of bullying. Extreme failures of care in our society such as Victoria Climbie and Baby P. were immediately evoked upon reading this.

In discussing the six domains of AT, Holmes relates that seventy per cent of infants become securely attached, the rest insecurely. The three categories of insecure attachment are avoidant, ambivalent and disorganised. The avoidant person (child or adult) tries to be in control and keeps intimacy at bay. Ambivalent people cling to care-givers (or abusive partners) so they are less at the mercy of their inconsistency. Disorganised people tend to have radically unstable relationships such as is characteristic of borderline personality disorder sufferers.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointing.... 9 Aug 2011
By Luptons
I bought this book with excitement because of the review it had received. It is subtitled "Attachment Theory and Psychotherapy", but I did not realise that it is written from such a strong Object Relations/Psychoanalytic perspective. Whilst there is a lot of meat in the book, and it is worth reading, it appears to me to be an attempt to reconcile Attachment Theory with Psychoanalytic theory, rather than to show how Attachment Theory can be useful in psychotherapy generally. I am a practicing therapist (not psychoanalytic), and am somewhat irritated by the author's frequent references to either psychoanalysis or cognitive therapy as if there were nothing in between. Altogether I have found it disappointing. If you are interested in how Attachment Theory can by useful in therapy more generally, I wholeheartedly recommend David Wallin's book "Attachment in Psychotherapy", which was anything but disappointing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really excellent book on Attachment Theory! 20 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I needed to complete a counselling assignment on Attachment Theory and felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume and complexity of literature on the subject. This book was a bit of a lifesaver because it helped me to gain an overview of attachment theory and, ironically, provided me with something of a secure base on which to anchor my essay! It is easy to read and understand and uses metaphor, narrative techniques and case studies effectively to get the point across. The author comes at the subject from a psychodynamic perspective whilst recognising that attachment theory is implicitly integrative. This book has helped me to understand more about my self, my clients and other people in general and I would highly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great easy to read book 28 May 2014
By Rus9
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Holmes is very clear and concise. This book is very useful for trainee counsellors and gives a general overview of attachment theory, which is easy to read. Would recommend.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What would you like to be different in your life? 17 Mar 2013
By Markus Youssef - Published on
A professionally written, secure base of a book, offering an understanding of the connections between attachment theory and the therapy process. A sample of the points made, as I understand them:

One of the reasons people like fairy tales and myths is for their emotional truth. When a factual narrative is unavailable, an emotional one can be very helpful.

Art can contain our feelings and in some cases be a "secure base."

Stages in healing include:
Search for patterns (and how they are linked with one's attachment style - "our maps of the world are based on pervious navigation." pg 152)
Express feelings towards parents for lack of attuned mirroring (need a safe person to do this with)
Grow out of outdated defense mechanisms (splitting, projective identification, etc)
Come to terms with the past (ghosts)
Support real self while deflating false grandiose one (close the gap between the two)
Support creative self by creating new patterns (in living)
Consider parents' situation in order to forgive them

To understand intergenerational trauma, the concept of identification may be of help. "Identification starts from the incorporation or introjection of the breast-mother through the act of feeding. 'We are what we eat' ... captures this [idea]." pg 66

The author links tone of voice to attachment style. "If the tone of voice of avoidant people tends to be harsh and unmodulated, that of the ambivalently attached is often monotonous and rambling." pg 38 (An overgeneralization perhaps)

I liked how the author explained the metaphor of "the basic fault" which apparently some don't think of as a metaphor but rather something of a concrete reality. I think everyone can love and be loved, it's just that it sometimes feels so hard that it feels like a basic fault in that the needs for love and the fears that go along with it cause such a major conflict within that it's sometimes easier to simply give up and say that it's all due to some fault.

"There is in realty no 'fault', but rather an enduring disposition to enter into a particular pattern of interpersonal relationships, a pattern established in childhood and permeating all significant interactions, including that with the therapist. In so far as basic fault is a metaphor, it is open to several interpretations and modifications." "The idea of a basic fault can be related to Luborsky's (1984) 'core conflictual relationship theme' or Ryle's (1995) 'reciprocal role procedures', both of which try to capture the essence of an interpersonal difficulty." pg 62, 63 The author links "the basic fault" idea/conflict to the disorganized attachment style of relating from attachment theory, and relates it also to another author's idea that "there is an approach-avoidance oscillation, but no secure resting point can be found. The sufferer is torn between the longing to have his need met and the fear of the consequences of doing so." pg 57 A case study of a 45-year man, Oliver, who says he can't cry, is provided as an illustration.

The appendix offers some helpful questions to help clarify some of the concepts related to the therapy process with attachhment theory in mind.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atachment adn Psychoanalysis 21 July 2008
By Dr. John Laughlin - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There are few, if any, books as good as this on applying attachment theory to psychotherapy. The title ought to replace psychotherapy with psychonalysis as that is the author's bent and I psychotherapy is a bit too broad. The writing is clear but could have been made a bit smoother read.
5.0 out of 5 stars This text was excellent for applying theory of attachment and psychotherapy 29 Mar 2014
By Jeanne Piachaud - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The text provided an excellent grounding of attachment theories and how it is applied in psychotherapy

I recommend this text as a reference and resource as a clearly written piece of work, that is engaging in clinical examples, it is up to date and well informed in the attachment theory and psychoanalysis work.
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