Attachment, affect regulation and mutual synchrony in adult psychotherapy

Shelley Dales, Paul Jerry

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines attachment theory in the context of the biology of affect regulation and the convergence of these in psychotherapeutic processes. Because of recent advances in understanding how the infant brain/mind/body is shaped by the infant's first social experiences, the purpose of this investigation is to extract those underlying mechanisms that expand adaptive and regulatory capacities and to review their application within the therapeutic relationship. Interdisciplinary advances are indicating that just as the infant-mother relationship is fundamentally a psychobiological dyadic system of emotional communication and affect regulation, this same system underlies the essential mechanisms that adaptively sustain subsequent relationships - including the therapeutic alliance. This review highlights the importance of right-hemisphere-to-right-hemisphere emotional and relational processes - moving away from the traditional emphasis on "left-brain" verbal and cognitive processes - thereby underscoring the necessity for therapist understanding of implicit, nonverbal communication as well as self-integration and awareness in order to help increase their client's capacity for the same. We propose a model of therapeutic communication that takes these factors into account for the therapist, the client and the relationship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-312
Number of pages30
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychotherapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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