Being accepted and valued by close others may be an elusive goal. Chronic tendencies in what adults expect from, and the way they relate to significant others are captured by the attachment insecurity dimensions of anxiety (fear of being abandoned) and avoidance (discomfort with intimacy and dependence). Adults with chronic attachment anxiety cling onto relationships and seek constant care and support; adults with chronic attachment avoidance distance themselves during emotional interactions or situations involving support. Others who are more secure (i.e., low on anxiety and avoidance) enjoy intimacy without fearing abandonment, feel comfortable seeking and providing support, and balance needs for autonomy and dependence.
Achieving interpersonal security has numerous interpersonal and intrapersonal benefits. How can people become more secure? Our lab is identifying novel pathways, leveraging the power of relationships to target and revise deep-seated beliefs and expectations that one is unworthy and others cannot be trusted (insecure internal working models of oneself and others). We have developed the Attachment Security Enhancement Model (ASEM) to guide research and optimize couple interactions to bring the best out in each other.