Utilizing grounded theory and the semi-structured interviews of25 participants, this study sought to understand how an insecure attachment affects one's relationship with God. Participants' stories suggested that: I) one's struggle to connect with God was a part of their struggle to connect with others; 2) that experiencing others as safe and responsive contributed to building a more secure attachment with God; and 3) that attachment is less a fixed style and more of an ongoing process: defined as gradual changes made by the participants towards the set-goal of feeling safe and secure. Four major processes were identified: I) finding what works; 2) a safe community; 3) significant time and energy given to creating secure relationships; and 4) being able to distinguish feelings about God and critical parent. Participants' stories appeared to suggest that a safe community may facilitate a more secure attachment to God and others and provide a potential means of affect regulation during times of distress. Community is suggested to mediate affective responses of participants during times of distress by: I) providing a bridging function between insecure participants and God through helping participants feel safer and more secure as they seek a closer relationship with God; 2) soothing participants' fears as they begin to experience intimacy; and 3) helping to create new safe images of God. Implications for clinical practice included suggestions for: I) incorporating attachment or relational language to help bridge the gap between client therapist religious background differences while tapping into the strengths and resources of a client's religious beliefs and heritage; 2) utilizing small groups within a client's faith community as another potential solution for developing healthy relationships and personal resources; and 3) helping clients create a positive image of God through experiencing others as caring and responsive as a therapeutic intervention in developing a more secure attachment. Limitations and directions for future research were also discussed.

LLU Discipline

Marriage and Family Therapy


Marriage and Family Therapy


School of Science and Technology

First Advisor

Knudson-Martin, Carmen

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded

January 2011

Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Attachment behavior; Spiritual life;

Subject - Local

Insecure Attachment; Connecting to God



Page Count

159 p.

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses & Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives