Jennifer Acker, LCSW, CSAT
My work with clients focuses on the following concerns and conditions.
Attachment is the deep bond established between a child and caregiver(s). Attachment disorders occur when there is a break in the normal bonding process so that the child’s basic needs for safety, consistency, intimacy and emotional nourishment are not met. If a young person sees the world as unsafe and believes that the people around him or her cannot be relied upon, the ability to develop and maintain healthy, loving relationships can be deeply compromised.
Someone who is codependent has difficulty functioning as an authentic self. The person’s thinking and behavior are organized around something outside them: another person, a process, or a substance. Often, codependent individuals suffer with self-esteem issues and try to enhance their sense of self through their relationships with others. While many may appear to function as well-intentioned caretakers, the care-taking can become compulsive and result in problems such as chronic anger, and fear of abandonment.
Fear of intimacy is the fear of being emotionally and/or physically close to another individual, even while longing for connection. Intimacy avoidance is often caused by or related to negative early childhood experiences. Children who are abandoned or abused, or neglected physically or emotionally, learn that intimacy is dangerous, conditional, absent or overwhelming. They learn on a deep level that to get too close is to get hurt, and that safety lies in fearing and fleeing from any lasting emotional connection.
In love addiction, a person devotes disproportionate time and energy to, and seeks constant validation from, romantic relationships. Because love addicts are addicted to the “rush” of new romances, their relationships do not develop. Instead of getting to know the real other, the love addict builds a fantasy around having the other be “everything.” When the initial romantic rush diminishes, the fantasy bursts, sending the love addict into a painful withdrawal until another love object is found and the cycle begins again.
Love avoidance is not literally turning away from love. Instead, it is an attempt to preserve self-reliance by not fully connecting to others, and adopting behaviors that will be translated as “keep away” signs to potential partners in order to maintain a sense of independence. Love avoiders often grow up enmeshed by their caregiver(s), rather than experiencing a relationship in which the caregiver meets the child’s needs. Having learned that loving is a “job,” they unconsciously replicate that sense in intimate relationships.
Trauma – post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
The word trauma describes negative events that overwhelm a person’s ability to cope. While traumas can include occurrences such as accidents or natural disasters, the types of trauma with the greatest psychological consequences are related to interpersonal interactions. Childhood traumas — whether physical, sexual, or emotional, and whether abuse or neglect — lie at the root of most psychological and emotional problems. Responses to childhood trauma can include anxiety, withdrawal from normal social behavior, disassociating, and self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse and self-harm.
The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity has defined sexual addiction as “engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behavior acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others.” Although most suffer feelings of shame and distress over their actions, sex addicts experience compulsive urges to act out sexually obsessive behavior regardless of potential risks to health, safety, finances, legal standing, and relationships.
Pro-dependence is an attachment - based theory of human dependency which by definition states that those who partner with an active addict are loving people who may be caught in circumstances beyond their ability to heal fully cope. Rather than blaming or shaming the partner, pro-depencence views standing by and helping the addict as an indicator of healthy attachment.