Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Insecurely Attached Adults Exploring the Intention, Emotion, and Sensation of Collaborative, Nurturing Touch
by Gabriele, Leslie, Psy.D., Saybrook University, 2017, 122; 10275774
Abstract (Summary)

The literature shows that sensitive and responsive parental care has been associated with secure attachment, whereas a deficit of sensitive and responsive care has been associated with insecure attachment. This study proposed that insecurely attached adults might benefit from practicing self-awareness, communication, and collaboration while learning to provide and receive sensitive and responsive touch. In this study, six participants were paired as dyads. Each dyad met with the researcher for a series of three-hour sessions to practice skills associated with secure attachment. The first research question, “What were participants’ presenting issues related to touch?” was examined during an initial one-on-one interview with each participant using a semi-structured interview, the Adult Attachment Projective Picture System (AAP; George & West, 2012), the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale—Modified (ECR-M16, Lo et al., 2009), and the Tactile Nurturance Scale (Gupta & Schork, 1995). The second research question, “What skills did participants develop through collaborative interaction during dyadic sessions?” was answered using recorded data from individual, semi-structured, concluding interviews and conversations during two activity sessions with the first dyad and three activity sessions with the second, then third dyad. During these sessions, participants practiced the following skills: self- awareness of thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations; development and communication of intention before interactions; communication of thoughts, emotions, and sensations before and after touch; request permission and form agreements before touch; collaborate while providing and receiving touch that consisted of facial massage, rocking, scalp massage, and compressing torso, legs, and arms. Content analysis of transcriptions of audio recordings of preliminary and concluding interviews and conversations before, during, and after the sessions revealed participants were able to overcome presenting issues that included hesitation and self- consciousness to practice self-awareness, intentionality, and collaboration and to develop skills associated with providing and receiving respectful and empathetic touch. In addition, participants reported skills learned during the study were later applied with positive results in their personal relationships. These findings suggest that interpersonal skills associated with secure attachment can be taught to motivated insecurely attached adults. Further research is needed to learn more about the development of secure attachment skills for adults.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Washburn, Allyson M.
Commitee: Vega, Selene K., Willmarth, Eric K.
School: Saybrook University
Department: Human Science
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 78/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Psychology
Keywords: Facilitator training, Insecure attachment, Mental health development, Relationships, Secure attachment skills, Skill training for adults
Publication Number: 10275774
ISBN: 978-0-355-09001-7
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