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Navigating Attachment Work in Recovery: Cultivating Healthy Relationships and Boundaries

Unhealthy attachment styles and codependency are often present for those in recovery. Attachment work can help with those issues and facilitate lasting healing. When you resolve your attachment issues, you can more easily overcome your struggles, find confidence, and lead a healthy life.

The Importance of Attachment Work

According to a 2021 research review published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, attachment theory is “a life span theory, proposing that children develop internal working models of the self and others through early relationships with caregivers.”

When a child feels that they’re in danger, ideally the parent or guardian will help them feel safe and secure. This type of healthy attachment is necessary. It helps a child to regulate their emotions, form healthy relationships, and learn how to cope with negative feelings and stress.

Unhealthy and Insecure Attachment

Unfortunately, healthy attachment is not always possible. Unhealthy attachment can develop when a child’s needs for security are not always met. Sometimes this may take the form of serious abuse or neglect. Other times, it can be the result of smaller experiences adding up, like constant yelling or punishment.

A 2019 research review published in Frontiers in Psychiatry explains that human beings who don’t experience a “sufficiently secure base” can develop “insecure patterns of attachment.” This can lead to negative self-views and low self-esteem.

How Insecure Attachment Can Affect Us

Insecure attachment is seen as an important risk factor for both mental health conditions and SUD. Those who grow up without feeling a sense of security can face more difficulty in regulating their emotions, dealing with stress, and maintaining healthy relationships. An insecure attachment can also lead people to use substances as a way to self-medicate difficult emotions and even replace relationships.

Fortunately, healthy attachment work can help you learn how to create better relationships, manage stress, and rediscover a strong sense of self.

Healthy Attachment Work: Where to Begin

When you’re beginning to do healthy attachment work, it’s important to look at factors like your emotional needs, healthy relationships, and your self-esteem.

Regaining a sense of confidence and a stronger relationship with yourself can help you begin to break down these barriers and find long-lasting success in recovery.


If you’ve experienced unhealthy or insecure attachment, you may have a low view of yourself. With healthy attachment work, you can start identifying the areas where you feel low self-esteem, guilt, or shame.

A journal is an excellent tool to help you reconnect with yourself and build up your self-esteem. You may want to write down all the negative things you feel about yourself. Getting these thoughts out of your head and on to paper can help you begin the process of releasing them.

Please note that even though this work is highly rewarding, it can also be difficult. To avoid experiencing re-traumatization, it’s important to have a trauma-trained professional by your side like those at The Guest House.

Self-Care and Positive Self-View

After you’ve identified the negative, you can go to a new page in your journal and write down all the positive things about yourself. Write down everything that makes you special, everything you love to do, and the unique expression you’re here to share with the world.

Self-care practices like wellness routines and creating time for yourself are also crucial for healthy attachment work. These practices can help you rediscover your sense of self, bring you confidence, and allow you to feel complete on your own without the need for another person to make you feel whole.

Regulating Your Emotions and Stress

Unhealthy attachment can come from high-stress environments you experienced as a child. Now that you’re navigating healthy attachment work, it’s important to find practices that help you feel safe and secure.

Meditation is an extremely useful tool to help you deal with stress and anxiety. Meditation can even help you overcome difficult life experiences and help you create a stronger bond within yourself.

Practices like emotional freedom technique (EFT), somatic therapy, and even exercise can also help you process difficult emotions on a mental and physical level.

Forming Healthy Relationships and Boundaries

One of the most important elements of attachment work is the ability to create healthy relationships and establish healthy boundaries.

You may want to begin by identifying the unhealthy relationships in your life or any common patterns between them. It may be necessary to break some bonds in order to create a better life for yourself. This may be difficult to do on your own, so it’s always a good idea to have a trauma-specific therapist or other professional by your side.

Healthy boundaries are another integral part of attachment work. Creating strong boundaries can empower you and help you regain a sense of control. Define what you will and will not tolerate when it comes to yourself, your emotions, and your needs. It may be scary at first, but setting healthy boundaries with the people in your life will help you find lasting happiness and success.

Attachment Work at The Guest House

Endeavoring to do healthy attachment work can be difficult on your own. At The Guest House, you will have a trauma-trained team by your side to help you rediscover yourself, create healthy relationships, and find lasting success.

Our wide variety of holistic therapies, like meditation and somatic healing, can help you regain confidence and self-esteem. Unique modalities like adventure therapy can help you learn how to build healthy relationships. Our group therapy program is another great tool for working through unhealthy attachments alongside people who share similar struggles.

At The Guest House, you can rebuild your confidence and find empowerment within yourself one step at a time.

Having an unhealthy attachment style with your caregiver in childhood can lead to mental health issues and even addiction in adulthood. Attachment work can help, but it can be difficult to delve into this work on your own. At The Guest House, you will be in a safe and understanding environment where you can begin repairing the bonds of unhealthy attachment. Here you will find a wide variety of holistic and traditional therapies to help you rediscover your sense of self, regain confidence, and form healthy boundaries and relationships with others. Our trauma-specific staff members are here to help you gently process difficult emotions, traumas, and memories. For more information, give us a call today at (855) 483-7800.