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Howard, S.A. (2004). An Attachment Systems Perspective Treatment of a Bicultural Couple. Progress in Self Psychology, 20:151-165.

(2004). Progress in Self Psychology, 20:151-165

An Attachment Systems Perspective Treatment of a Bicultural Couple

Sally A. Howard, Ph.D., Psy.D

From its inception, self psychology has asserted the belief that development is possible throughout life. The nexus of development, according to Kohut, is certain relational experiences. Kohut's focus on development within the analytic relationship provided a rich and ample context for further theoretical cultivation, evidenced by the eight broad paradigms now considered a part of contemporary self psychology. In addition to traditional self psychology (Kohut, 1977), these paradigms include intersubjectivity and contextualism (Stolorow, Atwood, and Orange, 2002), self and motivational systems (Lichtenberg, Lachmann, and Fosshage, 1992), specificity theory (Bacal, 1985), attachment/infant research (Beebe and Lachmann, 2002), developmental systems self psychology (Shane, Shane, and Gales, 1997), nonlinear dynamic systems theory or complexity theory (Trop, Burke-Trop, and Trop, 1999; Coburn, 2002), and relational self psychology (Fosshage, 2003). In this paper, I discuss the treatment of a bicultural couple—Tyler, a Caucasian woman, and Ben, a Japanese man, from an attachment systems perspective. This theoretical base incorporates nonlinear dynamic systems theory, attachment/infant research, and some additional currents outside self psychology which I believe enrich our dialogue.

Tyler first captured my attention as she sat on the edge of a parenting group I was teaching for those brave parents anticipating entry into the land of adolescent children.

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