Attunement & Developmental Trauma

I believe we all yearn for this deep attunement with other human beings, to have someone walk through the tough places WITH us. So many relationships are transactional, even marriages can become transactional and superficial. With thoughts like:

Oh, my goodness, is she going on about that again? (Judgement – I have no time or interest in you)

Attunement is in the body language, in the non-judgemental attending of the other. It is the gift of giving the other person a moment of your time and some of your compassion to share their pain.

With a mother and child, the attunement can be so intense that just listening to your child cry causes physical discomfort in the mother’s body (this is a personal experience). There is a deep resonance and intuitive understanding between the mother and child. The mother is aware of the child’s needs, and when she does not know what the child needs (and that is
often), she can hold the child and herself in the not knowing.

When attunement doesn’t happen, and there is unpredictability, a lack of love and caring, brain development in the child is affected. A great description of this is in ‘The Boy Who Was Raised a Dog’ – see my resources highlight.

One way of working with this kind of developmental trauma is to experience this attuned relationship in therapy. Many people have never felt real attunement. It is so affirming, so validating, it is a priceless experience…in my experience.

When experienced regularly, deep attunement changes people’s lives. Suddenly they know, from a deep place, that they are held in emotional spaces, and they experience being more attuned with other people outside of the therapeutic space.

May we move toward a world where attunement is taught in schools and to all parents, so those of us who didn’t experience it as children can learn to pass it on.