This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Questions to ask an attachment therapist


Of course it depends on your child's issues, but for us, we loved our attachment therapist (who also did somatic therapy) and for trauma EMDR.  Finding an Attachment Therapist -

  1.    Is it OK for me to be in the room during therapy?  You should be in the room the whole time (prevents triangulation, false allegations, and for attachment therapy you want the child bonding with YOU not the therapist).  At the very least you should be able to observe the therapy.
  2.  How much experience do you have working with kids of trauma?  The therapist needs to be experienced with kids of trauma (book learning is fine, but very few therapists "get" what it's like living 24/7 with a child with a serious mental illness or attachment issues).  Even if your child is not diagnosed with a severe mental illness or attachment disorder (like RAD), the therapist should be able to identify and treat it.
  3.   How do you handle a dysregulated child?  A good therapist matches (without joining) the energy level of the child, and then helps them regulate.
  4.   What treatment methods do you use?  (or combination of methods) Talk therapy doesn't work for trauma!  Options may be: attachment therapy, EMDR, CBT, DBT, biofeedback, play therapy, Theraplay, somatic therapy, family therapy, filial therapy...
  5.   Whose methodology do you follow? Our attachment therapist trained under Daniel Hughes.  Beyond Consequences is also a common methodology. 
  6. How would you handle our child parent bashing?  There should never be any parent bashing by the therapist.  The child can be supported in venting, but the therapist should NEVER make the parent feel they are bad parents.  It's a difficult line for the therapist to walk!
  7. How do you treat complex trauma, sexual reactivity, attachment issues, aggressive behavior, animal abuse, sibling abuse...?
  8.  How do you support the parents?  Parents must be supported!  Whether from the therapist (some do half the time with the child and half with the parent), encouragement to get their own therapist, or advice on books to read or places to go for support.  Parents need advice, guidance and support.
  9. Do you offer meetings with the parents without the child present? A lot of times this isn't covered by insurance.
  10. I will need advice/ support/ resources/ information on how to help my child, what do you suggest?  I had a therapist accuse me of wanting him to train me to be a therapist (we eventually fired him).  Another therapist recognized that I wanted to become a therapeutic parent for my child and continue the work we did  in therapy (or at least not derail it).  She gave me advice in one on one sessions, suggested books to read, and connected me with a local support group.
  11. What is the best way to communicate with you? I don't like to talk about my child or issues we might be having in front of the child.  Personally, I prefer to send way too lengthy e-mails or meet with the therapist alone for a little while. Some therapists are not willing to read e-mails or return phone calls.
  12. Do you have on call hours or times you're available on the phone in addition to appointments? 
  13. How collaborative is your relationship with parents?  Do you seek input about how the child is doing at home?  If the parents report a lack of progress or want to discuss a concern that the child doesn't want to discuss what happens then?
  14. What do we do if our child is having a crisis?
  15. What do you do if the child reports abuse?  What if the child is prone to false allegations? 
  16. How do you gauge success?  If progress isn't being made what happens next?
Please post any other questions you think should be asked in the comments!


Anonymous said...

Thanks, nice, helpful list. Looks like we will have to find a child psychiatrist to add to our support team. The list will serve us well as a handy checklist. So nice NOT having to reinvent the wheel this time. We have done everything to avoid the use of meds, but they may be necessary now. I always enjoy your posts. We've been in it for 6 1/2 years with two brothers adopted from foster care. We are all on QUITE the journey!

Anonymous said...

These are good questions and answers. How did you find the answers? I found it interesting reading that when a child is worked up in therapy, the therapist matches their emotional level and then helps them calm down. Can you give me an example of this, say, with Kitty, even if this may or may not be a regular part of her therapy? Would it be something like her, say, coming in and going on a rant about all the things she hates, how mean people are, etc, and yelling and screaming her comments at the therapist, and the therapist yelling and screaming things back? Can you elaborate a little? I had trust and attachment issues as a girl, but never got attachment therapy for them. So this is new for me. Thanks for sharing.

marythemom said...

Anon 1 - thanks for the compliments on my checklist. :) It is quite the journey, but I'm glad we're not alone.

Anon 2 - How did I find the answers? Talking to others and personal experience.

I'll answer your other question in a post.