In the attachment injury resolution model Johnson et al. (2001) summarized the steps that an EFT therapist undertakes in order to successfully address an attachment injury in couples. Defined as a betrayal of trust by a significant other or relationship trauma, an attachment injury can prevent the restoration of trust in couples.
The injured partner may have post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms that can be manifested in flashbacks, difficulty regulating emotions, numbing and hypervigilance.
Building on trauma recovery theory, the attachment injury resolution model, seeks to help couples process and integrate emotions, associated with the injury and restore the connection with loved ones that becomes a safe haven and source for healing.
The first step, outlined in the attachment injury resolution model begins when an injured partner, encouraged by the therapist to ask for her needs to be met, stumbles and starts describing an emotionally laden incident where her trust was betrayed by another partner.
The incident experienced as an attachment injury can be infidelity, loss or abandonment. Whether perceived or real, if the injured partner assigns significance to an attachment injury, the therapist’s priority becomes to help the injured partner communicate the impact of the injury to the other partner.
Uncovering feelings of shame, fear, hurt and powerlessness underneath the feeling of anger allows the injured partner express the profound impact of the attachment injury as well as it allows her partner to respond in a non-defensive way.
In the next step, the therapist assists the other partner to hear and acknowledge the injured partner’s emotional pain and see the attachment injury not as proof of his inadequacy but rather as the injured partner’s plea for support and reassurance.
Encouraged by the therapist, the partner takes responsibility for his action and expresses remorse and empathy for the injured partner. When the injured partner risks asking for the reassurance, the other partner “responds in a caring manner that acts as an antidote to the traumatic experience of the attachment injury” (Johnson & Makinen, 2001, p. 153).
It leads to the resolution and integration of the attachment injury, promotes relationship repair and sets in motion the positive cycle of bonding and emotional connection. In overall, this study provided support for the effectiveness of attachment injury resolution model and demonstrated the importance of working through attachment injury to facilitate a repairing of the relationship.