Embodying attachment: Language and somatic revelations

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter illustrates the use of the Adult Attachment Projective Picture System (AAP) to demonstrate the therapeutic effects of confronting childhood attachment figure failures with movement observation and somatic movement therapy. The client is an African/Native American woman whose adult addiction and relationship failures brought her to therapy. Born into a strict military family stationed abroad, she battled physical and emotional abuse, alcoholism, and substance abuse. Her AAP classification was Dismissing-Failed Mourning. Movement notations from the video of the AAP testing were added to the transcribed narrative and supplemented the client’s representation of attachment. In conjunction with the AAP results, movements reflect the attachment defense processes’ strategies, revealing the physical layer that represents the conflict within. The clinical application of adding developmental somatic information to the AAP enhanced the nuances of understanding her working model of attachment and her unconscious representations of early relationships. Subsequent administration of the AAP six years later demonstrated how successful unlocking of blocked affect and memories and movement repatterning during therapy were catalysts for a subsequent representational change to Preoccupied attachment. A plan using developmental somatic movement techniques is presented as the client’s continued therapy strives to help her achieve a stronger sense of agency, balance, and self-regulation options.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorking with Attachment Trauma
Subtitle of host publicationClinical Application of the Adult Attachment Projective Picture System
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781000797572
ISBN (Print)9781032104614
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 selection and editorial matter, Carol George, Julie Wargo Aikins, and Melissa Lehmann; individual chapters, the contributors.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Embodying attachment: Language and somatic revelations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this