John Bowlby's' Attachment theory is based on the idea that infants form attachments to their primary caregivers. This translates into attachment styles. If an infant was responded to and cared for by a good enough primary caregiver that infant is likely to grow up into a securely attached adult. If the infant's needs were not met the infant may grow up into an insecurely attached adult. People's attachment styles can be changed with intervention and people can have multiple attachment styles with different people in their lives.
Attachment theory is a major part of how I conceptualize how to 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. Without some sort of positive alliance between therapist and client, not much can really take place. This is why I stress if you don't feel a connection with me, I will help you find another practitioner that might be a better fit. Your treatment and mental health is the most important thing to me. I do not take offense to this in any way shape or form. The amount of time, money, and energy that goes into this work are vast. Not having a good connection with your therapist can waste your time.
Dr. Stephen Porges' polyvagal theory is the theory of how our nervous systems respond to the environment around us. The nervous system is responsible for what is often referred to as the flight, fight, freeze response, along with the calming of the aforementioned response. This theory also provides pathways to understanding and healing trauma.
In therapy, this theory can be helpful in the sense that we can use techniques that help activate the different parts of the nervous system through breathing and movement if a client becomes overwhelmed or experiences freeze. It also helps to work on creating and acquiring inner tools that can be used outside of the therapy room to address flight, fight, freeze responses in everyday life. Watch or read more below.
Erick Erickson's 8 stages of psychosocial development is a theory that describes the development as eight stages of life. Each stage beginning from birth and leading to old age. Each stage presents a crisis and the person must resolve the crisis to move into the next stage of maturation.
While I feel this theory is important and gives some context for growth it has it's drawbacks. When applied as is it can be a very ridged model that does not take into account experience outside of the dominant culture experiences, this being said it can be helpful to understand the developmental stages with a healthy dose of cultural compatancy and cultural humility.
Mindfulness is the moment to moment awareness of the present. Mindfulness has become a significant movement in the US, where it is relatively new mainly introduced by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979. Mindfulness is a secular practice informed by Buddhist traditions that have been around for 2500-years. Neuroscience supports the use of mindfulness as a tool to improve mental health see video below for information on neuroscience and mindfulness.
I utilize mindfulness theory throughout my clinical practice helping clients to normalize their personal experiences of the present moment through gentle awareness to the current moment that takes a nonjudgmental accepting view of thoughts, emotions, and actions. Practicing mindfulness can be done at any time and it does not have to involve anything other than being present for whatever this moment holds.
Shoutout to Netflix for their Documentary series around mindfulness including the following: The Mind Explained: Episode 5 Mindfulness, Head Space: Guide to Meditation.
Systems theory is the look at the way systems (people, families, cultures, organizations, etc.) are interconnected with each other. To understand systems theory is to understand individuals through the context of their families, communities, cultures, and, experiences.
As a social worker, this was the first theory that I ever learned about. It is one of the most fundamental theories of my practice as no matter who you are your life is affected by the systems you belong to and are a part of. We all belong to systems and understanding systems theory gives us the ability to understand human behavior in the context of the social environment.
Black Feminism, Critical Race Theory &
Black Queer Theory
Black feminism, Critical Race Theory, and Black Queer Theory are lenses that de-center whiteness as the "Standard experience" of all people and acknowledges and seek to dismantle sources of injustice with in society. These three theories go hand in hand as they seek to dismantle misogyny, heterosexism, racism, and all other "isms" (ableism, ageism, classism, ect.) while also acknowledging that intersecting identities cause hardships for persons who are outside of the dominate culture's expectations of "normalcy".
I practice with lenses that decenter whiteness and acknowledges intersecting identities, focuses on positive identity formation, for everyone.