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The Three Pillars Approach, developed by Dr. Daniel P. Brown and David S. Elliot, PhD, is a procedure developed at Harvard Medical School (first presented in the book “Attachment Disturbances in Adults: Treatment for  Comprehensive Repair”) for treating attachment and relationship patterns. I also use it to strengthen your self-worth, your relationship experience and your resilience.


The model focuses on three pillars that support each other in an integrated and holistic approach. The three pillars are “Collaboration”, “Metacognition” and the “Ideal Parent Method”. At the heart of this approach is the Ideal Parent Figure Protocol.  Inspired by Tibetan Buddhist meditation techniques, it consists of guided imaginations. They imagine ideal parents who embody the qualities of secure attachment. Through repeated exposure to positive attachment experiences, new neural pathways develop in the brain that lead to the development of a new, secure attachment pattern. 

Possible applications:

  • Strengthening self-esteem: Through imaginations that focus on self-esteem, we lovingly transform the shameful sides of yourself and strengthen the feeling “I am okay”.

  • Reflection on relationship patterns: By repeatedly experiencing positive bonding qualities, you experience yourself as more compassionate and self-confident in relationships.

  • More well-being & Resilience: Through the calming qualities of attachment imaginations, you strengthen your emotion regulation skills

Pillar 1: Strengthening collaborative skills

“When was the last time you received honest feedback about how you appear to other people?”


We humans are primarily social creatures; we need the others. With other people you recharge your batteries, experience closeness and connection and receive support and support in crises. For people with insecure attachment patterns, however, the experience can be completely different: relationships are a source of fear, anger, stress, drive you to despair or trigger frustration. We often protect ourselves by not properly engaging in relationships or encounter the same patterns and conflicts in relationships over and over again.

In the sessions we explore together which patterns in relationships are difficult and strengthen the factors that we know from attachment theory to contribute to the success of relationships.

Pillar 2: Strengthening metacognition & Mentalization ability

How does it feel to be seen and understood in another's mind?


The term metacognition refers to an inner movement to take a step back and look at your own experience from the outside. This allows you to look at thoughts and emotions from a distance, understand them better and reflect on connections.

Using the ability to mentalize, you then create an inner picture of your own psychological experience or the experience of another person. This will give you the ability to act in shaping your psychological inner world or relationships.

The ability to mentalize develops from the first months of life: In a secure attachment relationship, the child's feelings, thoughts and behavior are constantly reflected back by the parents or caregivers. In this way, you will increasingly learn to reflect on your own thoughts, perceive feelings as feelings, understand and regulate them, and much more.

People with insecure attachment patterns usually have weakened metacognitive skills because they did not learn them well as children. That's why we use methods from mentalization-based therapy and mindfulness techniques to strengthen your metacognitive skills.

Pillar 3: Co-creation of imagined secure attachment experiences

What would it be like to have a place where they can be themselves?

In this guided imagery inspired by Tibetan Buddhist meditation techniques, you'll imagine your ideal parents. These ideal parents are a perfect fit for you and your personality. They embody the qualities that help create a secure attachment pattern: they are always there for you, protect you, help you deal with difficult feelings, and support you in developing your best, authentic self.

In the imagination, we work together interactively so that you experience secure attachment experiences with these ideal parental figures that are individually tailored to you and your needs. This way you can “catch up” on what was missing in your childhood.

By repeatedly experiencing positive attachment experiences, new neural pathways develop in the brain and a new, secure attachment pattern emerges step by step.

Personal motivation

Part of my path has always been self-awareness, both before training as a psychotherapist and during my training and my work. A variety of procedures have helped me.


Often the focus was on understanding something better. However, many things have not led to strong, lasting change. I was even more surprised by my own experiences with the “Three Pillars Method”. I was able to heal attachment patterns in myself that I had previously understood but still deal with every day.


I then dealt intensively with the methodology myself until I trained as a therapist in it. I am aware that no methodology is omnipotent and diversity of methods is important to me. At the same time, I am convinced of the “Three Pillars Method” based on my own experiences and many clients come to me for exactly that reason.

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