Psychological mindedness and adult attachment styles
The aims of this study were to examine the relationship between psychological mindedness and adult attachment styles, and to assess the effects of a match or mismatch on these concepts between therapists and their clients. A critical review of the literature highlighted ambiguities in definition and measurement, which this study also aimed to clarify. A pilot study confirmed the validity of the measures chosen for the study and provided preliminary data. The main study consisted of a comparison between a therapist group and a client group on the Psychological Mindedness Scale (PMS), Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS- 20), Adult Attachment Scale (AAS), and the Hazan and Shaver attachment questionnaire (1987). The attachment dimensions on the AAS were also converted into Bartholomew's (1990) four-category model. A third group provided an unmatched control for the client group. The methodological limitations of the study, particularly due to the low response rate, further attrition from the client and control groups on follow-up after six months, and confounding factors associated with the groups, meant that only very tentative conclusions could be reached. Psychological mindedness and secure attachment were found to be positively correlated, and alexithymia and insecure attachment (particularly fearfulavoidant) negatively correlated. The therapist group had high levels of psychological mindedness and were mostly securely attached. The literature on 'wounded healers' was discussed in relation to those therapists who were insecurely attached. The client group were more insecurely attached than any of the other groups. Predictions about therapist and client matching on psychological mindedness and attachment styles were unable to be properly tested. The relevance of this study for psychotherapeutic practice, particularly in relation to the impact of similar or different attachment styles in therapists and clients, was discussed. A speculative model suggesting common pathways in the development of psychological mindedness and attachment styles was proposed.