Improving Treatment Effectiveness with Attachment Theory

Overcome Treatment Resistance, Improve Affect Regulation, and Build Compassionate Self-Awareness

CE Hours available ( How do I get my CE? )
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD Clinical psychologist and author

About This Course

Therapy rooms are filled with clients who are in emotional pain, yet also resistant to therapists’ efforts to help them. They may suffer with depression, anxiety, PTSD, personality disorders, relationship problems, or other issues. These clients usually have an insecure attachment style that underlies their difficulties. They frequently relate to themselves and others in ways that leave them feeling essentially flawed or inadequate, often leading them to be self-critical, self-loathing, and to be sensitive to rejection. Or, they maintain emotional distance in even their closest relationships. They often perceive others as not emotionally available to them; and so they may relate in a guarded or hostile manner. These issues interfere with their ability to regulate their emotions, and they negatively impact all aspects of their lives. In their vigilant attempts to protect themselves from potential harm, they block even positive outside influence – including therapy.

The key to working effectively with these clients is to help them feel safe enough to be willing to lower their defenses. They can then take the risk of opening up to their own experience and to outside influence. An attachment-based compassion therapy approach offers a way to understand their struggles and to help them feel safer. As a theory, not a therapy, the attachment framework can also provide guidance for integrating various therapeutic approaches.

Clients are taught to increase compassionate self-awareness through building awareness in five domains (STEAM: Sensations, Thoughts, Emotions, Actions, and Mentalizing) and nurturing self-compassion. Interventions can be chosen with the goal of engaging the whole brain, creating congruence between the right and left hemispheres (bringing conflicted thoughts and feelings into alignment). Special attention is paid to helping clients regulate their emotions, and to relate positively to themselves and others. The therapeutic relationship is used to improve clients’ models of self and others, which are fundamental to secure attachment. As clients build compassionate self-awareness and develop greater security, they will become more open to interventions for other emotional and behavioral change, making this attachment-based compassion therapy approach highly effective.


Session 1 | October 19, 2020, 4 PM—6 PM EDT
Hour 1: Attachment Theory: An overview and important concepts for therapy
Hour 2: Attachment Styles
Session 2 | October 26, 2020, 4 PM—6 PM EDT
Hour 1: Insecure Attachment & Psychopathology; Compassionate Self-Awareness Overview
Hour 2: Attachment-Based Compassion Therapy Approach; Know Your Attachment Style & Its Affect on You as a Therapist
Session 3 | November 2, 2020, 4 PM—6 PM EST
Hour 1: The Therapeutic Relationship
Hour 2: Building Awareness in Treatment through STEAM (Sensations, Thoughts, Emotions, Actions, and Mentalizing)
Session 4 | November 9, 2020, 4 PM—6 PM EST
Hour 1: Insecure Attachment: Common themes; Building Self-Compassion
Hour 2: Nurturing Compassionate Self-Awareness; Relating Positively with Others and Developing Secure Relationships

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:
  1. Describe how insecure attachment undermines healthy relationships with self and others, impairs affect regulation, and keeps people stuck in unhealthy patterns.
  2. Assess the importance of targeting insecure attachment in therapy.
  3. Explain the ways in which developing self-compassion and compassionate self-awareness can increase well-being.
  4. Choose and apply interventions that will engage the left and right hemispheres of the brain to improve hemispheric congruence and facilitate secure attachment.
  5. Guide treatment interactions with an attachment framework.
  6. Demonstrate techniques to increase five fundamental domains of self-awareness.
  7. Apply techniques to increase the elements of self-compassion.

Continuing Education

Please review complete CE and conflict-of-interest disclosure information prior to registering. This course is jointly sponsored by Praxis CET and Institute for Better Health (IBH) and is approved for 8 CE Hours by the following:

  • NBCC – National Counselors
  • NAADAC – Drug & Alcohol Counselors
  • NY State – Counselors and Social Workers
  • Other State Level Counselors, MFTs, and Social Workers
  • WESPSB – Educators
  • ACCME – Physicians
  • ANCC – Nurses
  • APA- Psychologists: Institute for Better Health, Inc is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to offer continuing education for psychologists. Institute for Better Health, Inc maintains responsibility for the program and its content.




Mental health professionals, beginners to intermediate.

Recommended Reading



Becker-Phelps, L. (2019). Bouncing Back from Rejection: Build the Resilience You Need to Get Back Up When Life Knocks You Down. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

Bateman, A. & Fonagy, P. (2016). Mentalization-Based Treatment for Personality Disorders: A practical guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cassidy, J., & Shaver, P.R. (Eds.). Handbook of attachment, Third Edition: Theory, research, and clinical applications. The Guilford Press, 2016.

Warren, R., Smeets, E., & Neff, K. (2016). Risk and resilience: Being compassionate to oneself is associated with emotional resilience and psychological well-being. Current Psychiatry, 15, 19-33.

Refund and Cancellation Policy

We understand, sometimes things come up!

Praxis will offer a full refund to registrants of both live and live-online trainings who cancel their registration up to 14 days before the course or workshop start date, minus an administrative processing fee of $30 for a 2-day workshop or online course, and a $50 fee for a 4-day workshop. If cancelled within 14 days, no refund will be issued, however, a credit for the same amount will be applied toward another learning product, which expires within 1 year. Please email us at to cancel a registration.