About five years ago, two of Shalem’s counselling staff received some training in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFT). On our GO train rides to and from the training, we talked about the overlap between EFT and another attachment-based therapy for children and families called Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP). That is when we began to dream about having an attachment–focused conference that would bring together two influential leaders in the field, Sue Johnson (EFT) and Daniel Hughes (DDP).
On March 3 & 4, 2014, that dream became a reality when we hosted the conference called Attachment: Cradle to Grave. The conference brought together keynote speakers Sue Johnson and Dan Hughes and panel moderator Dr. Jean Clinton. The conference provided two wonderful days in which over 230 therapists and mental health professionals come to Hamilton to listen to Dan and Sue speak about their own and each other’s models. People came from a wide variety of places, from the Maritimes to Montreal, and from as far away as Michigan and California.
The focus of the conference was on how important it is for everyone to have a healthy, dependable, close relationship with at least one other person. While the focus has often been on the need for children to have a good attachment with their parent or primary caregiver, we don’t always realize that we continue to need close attachment relationships throughout our lives.
Dan Hughes captured the importance of having someone we can share our emotions with when he said, “as you share the hard stuff, it gets smaller, and when you share the fun stuff, it gets bigger.” (See Shalem’s blog for more on this idea). We are wired to be in relationships, to be in community.
As an agency, Shalem Mental Health Network bases its work on our understanding of how we are created for relationships—for close attachments with other. We seek to help the people we work with to be able to thrive in healthy relationships and in responsive communities. We seek to help people build connections and repair relationships when they have been broken.
As Sue Johnson reminded us, Attachment Theory provides us with a map that allows us as therapists to enter into people’s lives and create profound changes by tuning into their emotional and relational experiences, by helping to fix their broken attachment relationships.
Shalem has offered DDP for several years now, and Dan Hughes has been a valued mentor to us. We also offer Emotionally Focused Couples therapy. The conference theme is what we are after: attachment from cradle to grave!
This conference was a huge success and we are already looking forward to planning what we hope will become a bi-annual signature event for Shalem – conferences that bring together expert leaders in the field of attachment and relationships to engage in dialogue with one another and with us as clinicians. We are excited to build capacity in our agency and the broader community as we seek to help build and restore healthy relationships.