The Conflict Model: Attachment and neurobiology-based conflict psychology
Lawyers, conflict resolution professionals, and any professional (mental health workplace, education, etc.) working with people who are involved in some form of conflict need a model of conflict psychology. But the field of psychology doesn’t provide any such model, at least that is popularly known. The Integrative Client Counseling Institute offers the Conflict Model.
The Conflict Model focuses on what drives conflict, which in the simplest statement, are neurophysiological and psychological drives which tend to lead to identifiable patterns of information process and self-protective behaviors. The Conflict Model was developed primarily out of the field of Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB), and the Dynamic Maturational Model of Attachment and Adaptation (DMM), both of which are heavily informed by attachment theory and the Polyvagal Theory, as well as many other theories and disciplines. The DMM is the preferred attachment theory because it is rooted in defining attachment as a person’s need to obtain protection from danger together with relationship with an attachment figure who can provide such protection. Conflict resolution professionals are seen as Transitory Attachment Figures, providing protection in the context of their work.
The Conflict Model is designed to be simple, and robust so that it can scale to describe almost any situation. Like many models, the Conflict Model starts with two initial divides. The first and primary divide is to see thoughts and behaviors from a cognitive or affective orientation. The extent of the orientation varies a little or a lot in any person.
The secondary divide is a little harder to describe with one word or simple concept. This divide is described by some theories as secure or insecure, as functional or dysfunctional, or as more or less at-risk. In a legal context client decision-making is a key issue, and the second divide often describes clients whose decision making involves simple or complex processes. Simple and complex capture the essence of the amount of help a client might need as they engage in decision making processes. The Conflict Model, and the ICCM, are client centered (respectful of client decisions), so simple and complex are posited as better terms to describe the secondary divide.
The first two divides create a primary 4-quadrant model with cognitive and affective orientations on the left and right sides, and simple and complex on the top and bottom. Clients (and opposing parties, lawyers, and judges) may fall into a cognitive-simple, affective-simple, cognitive-complex, or affective-complex pattern of self-protective strategies and patterns of information processing that tend to be at least somewhat predictable.
The DMM delineates conflict styles much more finely, currently offering at least 23 patterns of self-protective strategies and patterns of information processing. IPNB is based on over 20 fields of study, and seeks to harmonize them into a coherent view of human functioning. Viewed deeply, conflict psychology quickly becomes complicated. The Conflict Model is part of the ICCM, and both are designed to provide robust (expandable) and usable constructs with a minimum amount of learning, and richer insights with long term study.