Joanne Gilhooly - Psychotherapist & Counsellor - Dublin City - B.A. (Hons) Counselling & Psychotherapy, Dip. Gestalt, MIACP
Dublin Counselling and Psychotherapy Blog

Born Searching...

Grand Canal in Dublin - Counselling and AttachmentGrand Canal in Dublin - Counselling and Attachment
A college lecturer I had in my final year was very fond of using the phrase "we are born searching..."
 
She was referring to the attachment instinct, the natural instinct to search for a 'good enough' caregiver.
 
And, of course, we're not the only ones.
 
These pictures were taken a couple of years ago at the Grand Canal in Dublin. The mother of these small ducks was strolling along the canal bank, with her chicks moving as fast as they could behind her. They struggled to keep up at times, but were clearly led by their instinct to stay in close proximity to their caregiver, to give themselves the best chance of survival. Like all attached babies, they became distressed if left behind and there were signs of impending separation, as I witnessed happening to one of the swan signets.
 
The fact that we see this instinct in play in other animals can serve as a good reminder that we are significantly more than our 'heads', or our thoughts. Just like other animals we have instincts that are intended to serve our survival. It can be easy to get caught in the idea that as humans we are supposed to be beyond all of that, that as 'thinking' animals we should simply 'override' the instinctual response. Actually, in counselling and psychotherapy, it is often the instinctual response that is sat with, worked with and listened to. In doing so, we can begin to develop the ability to think about our instinctual reactions, to understand them instead of reacting from them. And it is from here we open the door to the possibility of more creative ways of responding.