Transforming Trauma Episode 085: Attachment Theory and the Importance of Presence with David J. Wallin, Phd
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In this episode of Transforming Trauma, our host Emily is joined by David J. Wallin, Phd. Dr. Wallin is a psychologist who has been practicing, writing, and teaching about psychotherapy for nearly four decades with an emphasis on attachment theory and research into an innovative framework that grounds adult psychotherapy in the facts of childhood development.
In talking about his highly respected book, Attachment in Psychotherapy, Dr. Wallin shares how it is a resource he wished he had when he was starting off as a psychotherapist. Wallin’s interest in relationships led him to explore deeper into the therapeutic relationship, which he says is a developmentally facilitative relationship where psychotherapy intersects with attachment theory. He highlights the important clinical implications of attachment theory research and how it informs practitioners how they can be of maximum help to the people that come to them for help. A significant part of his work focuses on the idea that therapy heals by providing clients with a new attachment relationship.
As Dr. Wallin reflects on his experience as a psychotherapist and the necessities of the person as therapist to show up with clients with presence. He describes the challenges he experienced when he wasn’t fully present with his clients, as well as what he’s learned through his studies into attachment theory. Leaning on the research and influence by Peter Fonagy’s work on mentalization, Wallin came to the conclusion that for therapy to heal, it had to go beyond the therapists’ formal training and theoretical understanding; it must include who the therapist is as a person, and better yet include the therapist’s relationship to their own attachment history. In his words, “What we are able to provide as therapists really has to do with who we are as people as much as anything…”
We are grateful to learn from Dr. Wallin about the ways attachment theory supports depth of understanding and connection for therapists. We invite you to listen to the full episode to hear more about the importance of presence in psychotherapy.
David Wallin is a psychologist who has been practicing, writing, and teaching about psychotherapy for nearly four decades. His most recent book, Attachment in Psychotherapy, has been translated into thirteen languages and he has presented his work to clinicians in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, China, Canada, and throughout the US. Near retirement, he is currently transitioning from psychotherapy to songwriting.