Calgary EFT Community

We Are the Tools of Our Trade: How the Therapist’s Own Attachment Patterns Shape Therapy


Schedule: May 13th, 2016
                  9:00 am – 4:30 pm
        Cost: $275.00
 Location: Executive Royal Hotel Calgary,
                   2828 23 St. N.E.,
                                Presenter: David Wallin, Ph.D.

Workshop description

Sparked by Bowlby’s original insights, attachment research has revolutionized our understanding of human development, the internal world and the consequences of development gone awry. No other empirically based theory tells us more about how we become who we are—and how to change who we have become. In his acclaimed book David Wallin spelled out the implications of this theory, integrating attachment with neuroscience, relational psychoanalysis, mindfulness and a focus on the body to help clinicians become more effective facilitators of growth and healing.

In the present workshop, he takes this exploration one step further, starting with the fact that in childhood and psychotherapy, the relationship is where the development action is—and development takes two. Attachment research shows that the parent’s security, insecurity or trauma is unavoidably transmitted to the child. Clinical experience suggests the same is true of the therapist in relation to the client. Because we are the tools of our trade, no factor influences our effectiveness as therapists more than our own attachment patterns. Rather than our theories or techniques, it is who we are—and who we can become—that ultimately determines our capacity to create with our patients a genuinely therapeutic relationship.

Illustrating his approach with vivid case material and video examples, Wallin explores how the therapists’ mindfulness and reflection can transform impasses generated by attachment history into opportunities for insight and inspiration. Using attachment research to clarity the impact of the therapist’s attachment patterns as these interlock with those of the client, he highlights the reality that for the client to heal, the therapist must also change. Of paramount importance here is a focus on the nonverbal realm of here and now experience that is evoked, enacted, and/or embodied. This focus opens a “royal road” to the awareness and integration of previously dissociated experience, not only in the client but the therapist as well.

Learning Goals and Objectives

In this workshop, participants will learn to:

  • Utilize the attachment relationship as a crucible of therapeutic change
  • Identify and “decode” your own attachment patterns rather than be defined or dominated by them
  • Recognize the collusions and collisions that arise where your attachment patterns intersect with those of the clients
  • Work with the enactments of transference/counter-transference that make up the nonverbal subtext of the therapeutic conversation
  • Understand the legacy of trauma and shame that provokes the therapist’s “compulsion to heal” — and the problem of trying too hard to be “good”

About the Presenter:

David J. Wallin, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Mill Valley and Albany, California. A graduate of Harvard College who received his doctorate from the Wright Institute in Berkeley, he has been practising, teaching, and writing about psychotherapy for nearly three decades. His most recent book, Attachment in Psychotherapy, is presently being translated into 10 languages. He is also co-author of Mapping the Terrain of the Heart: Passion, Tenderness, and the Capacity to Love. Dr. Wallin is a lively and engaging speaker who combines a scholarly perspective with unusual candor about his own experience as a therapist. He has lectured on attachment and psychotherapy in Europe, Australia, Canada and throughout the United States. You can visit his website at