Emotional Availability (EA)
Scientifically validated findings supported by decades of research
Based on attachment theory, developed by John Bowlby beginning in the 1950s, as well as emotional perspectives of Emde and Mahler, Pine, and Bergman, Emotional Availability (EA) is a research-based, scientifically driven way of understanding the quality of communication and connection between a parent (or caregiver) and child.
EA is the first comprehensive construct based on an integration of attachment theory/research and emotional perspectives that describes both caregiver and child contributions to the parent-child relationship and that is supported by a significant body of empirical evidence and research– spanning almost two decades.
The research has also informed practice and clinician/researchers are invested in the use of this idea as well as assessment and intervention strategies. EA as a concept and as “tools” (observational assessment, self-reports, and the intervention) have utility for parents, practitioners (mental health professionals, attorneys, physicians, nurses, etc.).
|Did you know…?
Studies show that a parent’s emotional availability may oftentimes be more important to a child’s emotional development than physical availability and that parent’s can be trained to read the body and verbal language of their babies and children to understand whether they are securely attached to their parents.
Parents and non-parental caregivers can help themselves and can be helped by practitioners to learn these skills, as they raise children ages 0-14 years!
The same EA principles also apply for other relationships. Individuals are likely to transfer their improved EA skills to other, completely different relationships in their lives.
What is emotional availability? Simply put, it means “being there” for your children — but it entails much more than helping them with their homework, picking them up from school, putting dinner on the table, taking an occasional day off to spend “quality time” with them.
FACT: 25% to 30% of “normal” families have emotionally insecure children — and are observed to need improvements in the emotional availability of their parent-child relationships.
The emotional security of children plays a significant role in shaping their lives — from their personality, confidence, success in future relationships, and mental health — as they grow. It is a widely accepted fact that children from loving and caring households go on to become well-adjusted adults, while children from abusive, broken, or neglectful homes often grow up to have serious emotional or even mental problems. But it is less well known that many concerned, caring, and well-meaning parents are still observed to need improvements in their relationships so that their children can grow up to be emotionally securely attached (vs. insecurely attached) to their parents. 30% of normal, benign relationships are found to be on the lower end of EA in our research studies.
When parents are emotionally reachable and are able to ‘read’ the emotional signals (through body and verbal language based on attachment and EA principles) of their kids, the children will perform better in a wide variety of situations.