Attachment Theory

Attachment theory was first developed by psychologist John Bowlby and focuses on the importance of early emotional bonds. Attachment theory investigates the nature of a person’s initial relationship with their primary caregiver (such as a parent) and how it influences their social and emotional development. Therapists using attachment theory can help a client to identify their individual attachment style. Attachment styles influences how individuals relate to each other in intimate relationships. Knowing your attachment style can be a powerful tool in understanding your strengths and weaknesses in a relationship.

Local experts in Attachment Theory

Julianna Vermeys

Licensed Professional Counselor

LPC, NCC

I believe our attachments to our first caregivers offer us a window into how we feel and function in our current relationships and life endeavors. Using narrative and discussion to understand the complex web of attachment-based emotions and experience in the world, I can help you feel empowered and in charge of your life choices and behaviors.

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Michelle Pliske

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

DSW LCSW RPT-S

Attachment theory is a theory of affect regulation and interpersonal relationships. Adult attachment anxiety is conceptualized as the fear of interpersonal rejection and abandonment, negative view of the self or feelings of increased anxiety or depression within relationships. Children can experience insecurity within their relationships and the behaviors we see are a result of that anxiety.

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Holly Morseman, LPC, NCC

Licensed Professional Counselor

Attachment theory is really useful in helping clients understand why they struggle in relationships, how their past is involved, and what they can do about it. If you find yourself pushing your partners away, clinging to them, avoiding letting people in, or feel like you're being abandoned every time your partner leaves, you may gain some insight by knowing what your attachment style is.

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Firefly Institute

Licensed Professional Counselor

Attachment theory is a theory of affect regulation and interpersonal relationships. Adult attachment anxiety is conceptualized as the fear of interpersonal rejection and abandonment, negative view of the self or feelings of increased anxiety or depression within relationships. Children can experience insecurity within their relationships and the behaviors we see are a result of that anxiety.

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Sprout Therapy PDX

Licensed Professional Counselor

Our relationship with our selves and others begins with our experience of attachment to our caregivers. Attachment is a huge influential part of our behaviors in relationship with everyone in our lives- our partners, children, parents, families, and friends.

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emily bilbao (she/her)

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Attachment theory is a key tenant of my work, particularly with it's current support from neurobiology, which demonstrates the importance of mindfulness in mental health. I have attended many trainings with Daniel Seigel, MD and I stay current with the literature as it evolves.

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Arrival Counseling annie dolle LCSW (she/her/hers)

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

LCSW

From family work (family crisis and adoptions) to the most vulnerable peoples (Emergency Department social work), I know that our attachment templates are primary to the way that we experience ourselves, our relationships, and our world. I keep this awareness close and utilize attachment theory in my work, always.

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Nova (Stephenie) Knutson (she/her)

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern

MA, CHT

Attachment therapy uses principles of modern neuroscience and research about the ways humans form inner relationship models based on our early relationships. Unless they are interrupted, we carry these forward into current relationships, for better or for worse. I work with a client's present moment relational experiences to unravel old relationship patterns and foster new, more satisfying ones.

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Daniel Maher, LCSW (He / Him)

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

LCSW

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Kate Madden

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern

Our earliest experiences with caregivers shape what we expect from the world, how we enter into relationships, and how we make sense of ourselves. By exploring and processing early attachment experiences—and forming reparative, adult attachment experiences—we can facilitate healing and growth.

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Rachel Bagley, MS, NCC

Professional Counselor

I have been trained in Experiential Attachment Psychotherapy. I have a passion for working with those wanting to find more security in their attachment style and in their relationships.

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Nani Waddoups (she/her)

Licensed Professional Counselor

Attachment Theory is an extraordinarily helpful tool to understand how we developed our baseline relational styles. By studying our earliest emotional attachments to our primary caregiver(s), we can understand how we developed our sense of trust, security, and self-assuredness in relationship to others. Knowing your attachment style can become a navigational compass in relationships.

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Gudmund Lee

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Attachment is all about how we live in the context of a symbiotic relationship with the world around us. We are at our best when we can mutually recognize and help to meet the needs of our loves ones and community, and they ours.

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Rebecca Flatt

Clinical Social Work Associate

Attachment theory is a major part of how I conceptualize how I work with clients. I personally feel attachment plays such an important role in human experience because it's how we relate to the people around us. In therapy, the relationship between the therapist and the client is significant as trust and vulnerability are a major part of the client's process through treatment.

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Lawrence VENASKA

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

I have an overarching lens I view my work through which is attachment theory. Approximately 85% of the general US population has less than optimal development due to disruptions in the process of attunement we all need to be able to best regulate our own neurology and well being. Secure attachment can be achieved later in life as an adult even if not achieved in childhood.

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Katharyn Waterfield, MA, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

OR Lic #C4802

Through the study of Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) we have a great new understanding of the restorability of wholeness where emotional damage was done from unresponsive, unconscious, or even violent caretakers. Our work is in the relationship, as the 'interpersonal' actually enables a new neurologic wiring as well as new realizations of worthiness and value.

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Jessica Feinsmith, MA, LPC intern (She/her/hers)

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern

LPC intern

I believe that to heal we must feel, and that can be very scary to do alone or with a stranger. If you struggle with insecurity within yourself and relationships, connecting and building a trusting relationship with a therapist will take time. I utilize attachment and bonding interventions to holistically develop a trusted relationship between myself and the client to create a secure attachment.

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Su Yim, MSW, LCSW (she/her)

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Attachment theory is all about love and safety. How we experience that from an early age influences the coping skills we develop for all of our relationships, especially during times of conflict and struggle. I love that we can change how we feel about ourselves, our relationships and the world at large through the context of new, safe, reparative experiences.

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Margot Standeven (she/her/hers)

Licensed Marriage Family Therapist

Masters in Marriage, Couple, & Family Counseling

We each have a particular attachment style that determines how comfortable we are in proximity to others. Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) helps couples understand the attachment style of each partner and the dynamic that exists between them.

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Tracy Trefethen

Licensed Professional Counselor

My Masters in Clinician Mental Health and ongoing post-Masters intensive trainings feature a fundamental understanding of how our childhood attachment relationships profoundly shape our sense of self, others and the world. I am currently participating in an 18 month training intensive that focuses primarily on supporting clients to repair and transform their childhood attachment wounds.

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Janet Purcell, PH.D.

Clinical Psychologist

I have received significant training in Attachment Theory and Practice at what is now the Portland Psychoanalytic Center. My significant training and experience in Child Development informs this work.

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Jenni Goldstein (She/her)

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern

I specialize in experiential attachment healing (not just theoretical) where we utilize our relationship to explore & heal insecure attachment states and support & encourage secure attachment states.

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Heather Vliet (she/her)

Licensed Professional Counselor

Attachment theory and its connection to the field of interpersonal neurobiology is exciting in its implications for treatment! I help children and families build the skills of reflection, empathy and validation that are needed for children to develop secure attachment and healthy self-confidence. When life's challenges have injured these primary relationships, our work is essential for healing.

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Carly Henderson (she/her)

Licensed Professional Counselor

I have and continue to participate in graduate education and professional development that focuses on attachment and attachment related trauma. I continue to participate in graduate classes through Portland State University's Trauma Informed Services and Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) programs and participate in an advanced study group focusing on trauma, attachment, and IPNB.

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Dana Denny

Marriage Family Therapist Intern

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Mauri Castle Myers, MS

Marriage Family Therapist Intern

The way in which we try to connect with others informs not only how we interact with others, but also a lot of things about the world and our own identity. I find that using this theory can help clients better understand their motivations and how to get what they need from life in better and more productive ways.

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Catherine Palmer; MS, LPC, MFT (She/her)

Licensed Professional Counselor

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Majken Elek, MA

Licensed Professional Counselor

Our early childhood attachments with our caregivers creates a template for how we respond and relate with ourselves, and our relationships. They inform our beliefs about the world and from this, we internalize relational patterns. We can cultivate understanding of why we attached the way we did and how we can utilize neuro-plasticity to create new templates to get our emotional needs met.

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Mira Shah, LPC, ATR, LAT (she/her)

Art Therapist

LPC, LAT, ATR

Attachment theory is all about love and safety. How we experience that from an early age influences the coping skills we develop for all of our relationships, especially during times of conflict and struggle. I love that we can change how we feel about ourselves, our relationships and the world at large through the context of new, safe, reparative experiences.

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Tina Lilly, MS LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

I have researched and trained in various attachment-based theories related to parenting, adoption, couples and families.

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Marla Christensen LPC NCC

Marriage and Family Therapist

My theoretical focus is through the lens of attachment – that is, how the bonds we create are effective, or ineffective, in our current lives (John Bowlby). In addition to attachment bonds that we experience, I also support my clients collaboratively to better understand life’s stressors and patterns of interaction that may or may not be promoting his or her well-being.

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Kathy Hardie-Williams M.Ed MS NCC LPC LMFT

Licensed Marriage Family Therapist

M.Ed MS NCC LPC LMFT

Attachment can be defined as a deep and enduring emotional bond between two people in which each seeks closeness and feels more secure when in the presence of the attachment figure. Attachment theory explains how the parent-child relationship emerges and influences subsequent development. There are four basic characteristics that basically give us a clear view of what attachment really is. They include a safe heaven, a secure base, proximity maintenance and separation distress.

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Miranda Bayard-Clark, LPC (she/her)

Licensed Professional Counselor

Humans learn attachment from their primary caregivers. This relationship we have with our parents directly reflects our relationships with our friends, other family members, co-workers, and intimate partners. I work with clients to identify their attachment, and how it can help or hinder their personal success in creating and maintaining relationships.

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Allison Amo MA, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

I strongly believe that our attachment experiences, from birth through adulthood, shape the way that we relate to ourselves and others. I will help you understand this lens through which you see the world, and open up possibilities for growth and healing, which ultimately leads to a more authentic and meaningful connections.

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Pearl Waldorf

Licensed Professional Counselor

It is during our early development that our ways of understanding relationship are being mapped into our brains. Attachment therapy can awaken these networks for reconfiguration. Deep change is possible in how we experience ourselves, in our ways of connecting with others and in our capacity to act effectively in the world.

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Wild Foxgloves Counseling, PLLC (She/Her)

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern

MHCA.MC.61068879

Our formative relationships and experiences shape our understanding of ourselves and others, and form the patterns of how we relate to others. Turning over the leaves of these relationships and experiences can bring profound healing, understanding, and kindness to oneself.

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Lisa Silverman (she/her/hers)

Licensed Professional Counselor

I've studied attachment theory in numerous trainings (Circle of Security; Wait, Watch, and Wonder; RIE Foundations; and more), paying special attention to parent-infant relationships, and taught attachment theory at NUNM. Understanding how attachment develops in infancy illuminates how you navigate relationships in adulthood as well, since it is in relationship that we come to understand ourselves as persons, and it is in relationship that we can heal attachment wounds.

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Sawyer Salameh

Licensed Professional Counselor

I work off attachment theory to help individuals and couples. This gives us an understanding how we interact with people in our lives and how we can change our patterns.

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Adam Benjamin

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

A thorough grasp of attachment theory is foundational to understand most forms of dysregulation or mental illness. I consider attachment patterns as I seek to tune in to each client's suffering. I also have training in attachment-based therapeutic techniques.

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Myra Sicilia, LPC (she/her)

Licensed Professional Counselor

Having training in attachment theory serves as a solid foundation for understanding client’s development of maladaptive coping strategies and how this relates to the client’s emotional difficulties. Using this therapy, I can help clients increase self-compassion and kindness because clients who have attachment disorders/wounds often develop a negative self-view.

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Rhys Pasimio

Licensed Professional Counselor

We are formed by our relationships. More than that, we are most deeply wounded in relationships, and find out greatest healing in relationships.

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Lori Haymore MA, NCC

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern

Connecting with others is essential for most of us to be happy. I'll work with you to identify stuck patterns and find ways to build ore enjoyable and meaningful connections.

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Dore Everett,LCSW (He/Him)

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

LCSW

Attachment work in therapy explores how dysfunctional attachment templates get represented in adult relationships by clients developing a personal, healthy, therapeutic relationship with their counselor. This relationship lays the groundwork to understand clients’ attachments to others through consistent and supportive communication.

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Lisa Langstraat, MA, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

Issues related to how we form attachments with others, and difficulties in relationships

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Amanda Ball (she/her)

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern

MS, LPC Intern

Attachment theory helps us untangle the complex web of early learning that can make engaging in fulfilling adult relationships difficult and painful. I hold special training in a method called Experiential Attachment, which naturally elicits the infant/caregiver attachment system, allowing for examination of early attachment wounding and engagement in a process of repair.

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Sasha Rosenfels, MA, LMFT

Licensed Professional Counselor

Learning to understand our early attachment experiences and how they shaped our current relationship dynamics.

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Heather Lokteff

Licensed Professional Counselor

Our early childhood relationships and experiences provide a blueprint for how we see ourselves, our relationships, and the world around us. Is this world safe? Am I alone or can I rely on others? Can I find trustworthy people? It can be extremely helpful to know what your attachment style has been in your life and also hold onto hope that you can move into a place of security with others.

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Sankofa Counseling

Licensed Professional Counselor

I have attended extensive training on attachment as it pertains to brain development and the development of both risk and resilience factors. I hold an advanced certificate in Adoptive and Foster Family Therapy, where major coursework was around attachment processes within various family settings.

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Karel Chan, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

Our relationships in adulthood reflect our earliest relationships in life: those with our families of origin. While those early relationships may not have been terrible (in fact, they may have felt great!), the way that we learned to attach to them may not be working in the types of relationships we want now. Understanding how and why we attach is a pathway to choosing healthier relationships.

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Marc Otto (he/they)

Registered Somatic Movement Therapist

MA, RSMT/E, LPCi

Our earliest relationships form the templates for how we interact and what we expect from others. These patterns live in our body and in the ways that we engage with (or avoid) others. Over the past 10 years, I have learned how to recognize and work with individual attachment styles and relationship patterns through my in-depth studies with Bonnie Badenoch, PhD, LMFT.

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Stacy Sheffler (she/her)

Licensed Professional Counselor

How we attached to our significant caregivers in early childhood leads us to desire, gravitate and repel others. Understanding these styles can aid in seeking healthier relationships.

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Sophie Toolanen

Licensed Professional Counselor

Attachment and schema driven therapy were cornerstones of my graduate education program. I believe that the attachment, or lack there of, to our primary caregivers plays an integral part in shaping who we are and how confident and capable we feel. I have many years of experience working with individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder, which I see as a disorder rooted in attachment trauma.

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Azhar Sultanova

Licensed Professional Counselor

LPC C5924

Attachment theory is the cornerstone of all relational issues. When a client has an understanding about his/her attachment style and that of other people in his/her life, it opens great possibilities of interpersonal change.

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Anne Emmett

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

I have studied attachment theory through various coursework and study groups throughout the years.

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MereAnn Reid

Licensed Professional Counselor

Our earliest relationships help construct a map for how we expect future relationships to unfold. Our sense of safety--both internal and shared--has its roots in how we were parented. All of this is changeable, as our brains grow and change for our whole lives; the greatest factor of influence is how and with whom we connect. That's attachment: Getting our needs met, in a dance with others.

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Lilyan Smith-Moore, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

We are creatures of love, and we suffer when we feel disconnected from others. In therapy, I use attachment theory to help a person explore how their early family relationships (or lack thereof) shaped their ways of relating to others in adulthood. This type of therapy is especially useful for those who have been through childhood or family trauma.

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Reuben Simon

Marriage Family Therapist Intern

MA

Secure attachment requires a solid base, safety to explore and return to that base. Within the body and mind, we may feel that people cannot be trusted, will betray or abandon us, or even hurt us. Fortunately, we can re-build a secure attachment by exploring these very real fears and finding stable, safe people to bond with.

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Emily Beloof

Marriage Family Therapist Intern

Ever wonder why you tend to have similar behavior patterns in your relationships with people? We each have survival strategies created in childhood to protect ourselves. Attachment theory gives us grounded research to know the likely effect of our early bonds on later relationships. Since relationships in our life determine a great degree of happiness, this is crucial to explore.

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Marley Dagner (she/her)

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern

MA

The foundation in which we relate and develop bonds with others was taught to us in our earliest experiences. Working to understand the way we learned to engage in relationships leads to the opportunity to teach ourselves new ways of connecting with others. Offering freeing & mutually servings methods of connecting with others and yourself.

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Paige Cameron LPC Intern

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern

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Licensed Professional Counselor Intern

Patterns of thought and ways of being in relationships with others are largely put in place prior to acquiring the ability to verbalize our experience. As such much of what we know and how we know it are implicit. Nonetheless these embedded patterns can effectively addressed by counseling in an atmosphere of empathic collaborative dialogue.

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Rebecca Bradley

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Attachment theory teaches us that a person's experiences and bonding with a primary caregiver during early childhood impact our relationships with ourselves, others and the world around us later in life. We develop ways of viewing the world and the people in it based upon these early pre-language experiences.

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Christopher Marquardt (he/his/they/them)

Licensed Professional Counselor

LPC

I tend to build emotional connections to my clients- hoping to mitigate the pain caused by other suboptimal relationships they've had in the past. For other clients this looks like establishing a connection to someone who knows them very well and represents a reflection of their better self which, for one reason or the other, the client is unable to see.

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Camillia Thompson, LPC (she/her)

Licensed Professional Counselor

MA, LPC, CMA

We all want to feel connected, we just don't always know how. I draw heavily from attachment theory as well as training with the M.E.T.A. Institute in attachment focused techniques to bring this knowledge into our work. Profound life changes can take place when we face our fears of vulnerability and connection in a safe and supportive relationship.

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Christine Bethel

Licensed Marriage Family Therapist

As with systems theory, I find attachment theory to be an extremely helpful model in supporting clients. We are indelibly marked by our early bonds with caregivers and typically, what we learned in those relationships sets our beliefs about the world and determines the patterns we follow in future relationships. Not that we can't change, attachment theory just helps us understand why.

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Emily Berry LPC (she/they)

Licensed Professional Counselor

I believe deeply in the power of human connection and how it shapes us. Our earliest significant relationships heavily influence how we learn to see ourselves and relate to others and the world. These dynamics evolve over our adult lives. It can be tremendously helpful to look at these histories and patterns to learn about ourselves and make change from a deeper place of self-understanding.

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Beth Bloom (she/her)

Clinical Psychologist

Psy.D.

I have advanced training and experience working with attachment theory, including a study group with Beatrice Beebe, a leading researcher in this area.

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Jessica Blaschke, M.A. LMFT (She/her)

Licensed Marriage Family Therapist

B.S. Health Psychology, M.A. Counseling, LMFT

I often find that a person's attachment style is one of the strongest factors in how they related to the world and other people. When working with children I always hold their early experiences in mind and take them into account when working toward goals. The issues that couples face can often be traced to their attachment pattern. My role is to help translate each person's needs to their partner.

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Kathleen Thompson LPC, CRC

Licensed Professional Counselor

Attachment Theory is about discovering that how a person was cared for & related to in their early years still effects us. When we were young we learned if the world was safe or not. To make us feel safe we isolated or became people pleasers. These patterns continue on into adulthood & can be very disruptive to relationships. There are ways to feel emotionally safe so you can thrive.

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Sarah Small

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern

MA

An individual's attachment patterns with early significant persons in their life contributes to present and future connections with others. Identifying and understanding these patterns can help individuals develop more freeing ways of engaging with others and themselves now and in the future.

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Jules Allison

As a graduate student in Lewis and Clark’s counseling program, we are meant to identify our theoretical orientation early on in the program. Attachment Theory is my identified theoretical orientation and I have done extensive research throughout my graduate studies.

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