Attachment Styles

What attachment style am I?

Why do we act the way we do in relationships?

Curious about what attachment styles are and which one you may be? Do we allow ourselves to get close or do we actively avoid getting close to others? How easily do we trust? Or how safe and secure do we feel?

Attachment styles are a specific pattern of behaviour in and around relationships. According to attachment theory, first developed by psychiatrist, John Bowlby, and psychologist, Mary Ainsworth, in the 1950’s, there are four adult attachment styles identified:

  • Anxious
  • Avoidant
  • Disorganized
  • Secure

Each individual’s attachment style is developed in childhood as a response to their relationships with their earliest caregivers. In adulthood, these attachment styles are used to describe patterns of responding to and coping in romantic relationships.



It’s nature to seek love, support and comfort in others, especially romantic relationships. Attachment is an emotional, special relationship that involves comfort, pleasure, and care. The behaviour of primary caregivers contributes to and forms the perception and beliefs that children have of close relationships.

As a child dependant on his/her caregivers, we seek soothing, comfort and support from our caregivers. If our needs for comfort and safety as a child are satisfied, we will develop a secure attachment style. However, this requires parents to foster a caring and supportive environment.

If as a child our needs for comfort and safety are not met, then we may develop one of the three insecure attachment styles as a way that we respond to and cope with parents who are unavailable or harsh in their parenting style. Next, we will explain in more detail each of the four attachment styles.


  1. Anxious / Preoccupied

This attachment style is characterised by a preoccupation with whether an inconsistent caregiver is there for them or not and can manifest as a fear of abandonment, rejection, and/or co-dependency. This style is built on insecurity, and is formed from inconsistent parenting that doesn’t support a child’s needs. Experiencing a lack of security and support, these individuals develop high distress and grow up believing they are supposed to take care of other feelings. They tend to seek approval of others, have low self-esteem, experience feelings of unworthiness and find it difficult to trust others.

  1. Avoidant / Dismissive

Also built on insecurity and known as dismissive-avoidant, this attachment style struggles to build and sustain healthy long term relationships as they are so wary of closeness they try to avoid emotional connection, attachment and closeness to other people. This has often stemmed from having harsh and critical parents whom have not met the needs of their child. The child learns to become independent and not rely on others. these individuals learn to become strong, self-sufficient, and independent persons, and have a strong positive model of self. However, they have an enduring mistrust of others, and they believe that they don’t need to depend on someone else, or have others depend on them. Unfortunately, this attachment style avoids emotional bonds and doesn’t allow others to get too close.

  1. Disorganised / Fearful

This type of insecure attachment style causes individuals to have difficulty trusting others, usually caused by parental neglect, abuse or trauma as a child. These individuals can be confused, socially withdrawn and untrusting. They have trouble regulating emotions, at times seeking out others, but quickly becoming fearful of getting hurt and withdrawing from the person, hence the style name “disorganised”. In addition, they feel they don’t deserve love or closeness in a relationship. They feel bad about themselves and fearful of others.

  1. Secure Attachment

The first three attachment styles are insecure attachment styles. In comparison, the secure attachment style means an individual that holds a positive self-image and positive image of others. They trust that others will be available and responsive to them when they seek out comfort or support and they also believe that they are worthy of this love and care. These individuals value relationships that create happy and trusting environments.



If you identify with an insecure attachment style, a therapist can help in several ways. A therapist can assist you to work on a more positive model of self, one that believes that you are deserving of love and care. Secondly, a therapist, particularly one that is trained in relationship therapies, can assist you with your coping response in relationships. If you find that you are pre-occupied with your relationship, or, fear being abandoned by your partner, a relationship therapist can look at these beliefs and responses to help you form healthier attachment with others. Or, if you find it hard to trust others and notice that you withdraw or shutdown in response to relationship stress, then a therapist can also support you to work with your partner to put down the walls and trust in others.

The struggle with attachment styles is not necessary. There are many ways to deal and recover from attachment disturbances.

Both our Brisbane and Gold Coast offices have knowledgeable and professional psychologists in the area of attachment styles, that can help you work through the pattern that is potentially damaging your relationships.

Please download our referral form here and take it with you to your GP appointment for preparation of a referral.

Contact us now via telephone or online enquiry via referral form here. That first appointment can be the next step to removing a toxic person from your life!

Coomera – (07) 5551 0251

Nerang – (07) 5668 3490

Mount Gravatt – (07) 3102 1366

If you, or someone you know, require urgent help, please reach out to organisations like Beyond Blue, or call the mental health helpline on 1300 22 4636. If this is an emergency, please contact 000 or visit your local emergency department.

Disclaimer: Firstly, content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only and is not intended to replace advise from your doctor or registered health professional. Lastly, readers are urged to consult their registered practitioner for diagnosis and treatment for their medical concerns.


Huang, S. (2022). The Different Types of Attachment Styles. Simply Psychology.

Mandriota, M. (2021). Here Is How to Identify Your Attachment Style. PsychCentral.

The Attachment Project. Attachment Styles & Their Role in Relationships. The Attachment Project.,Secure


Attachment Styles

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