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, August 31, 2012

Books and Methods Review - Methods - Attachment Therapy

Attachment Therapy

I strongly believe in attachment therapy.  Not that horrible abusive stuff like "rebirthing" that gave attachment therapy a bad name, but therapy with an experienced specialist who supports the relationship between parent and child instead of trying to develop a bond between child and therapist, keeps the parent and child together during the sessions, and supports both parents AND the child.

The Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children (ATTACh), an organization that is seeking to better define Attachment Therapy and defend it from charges that it is abusive to children defines Attachment Therapy, as "the focus of the therapeutic process rather than a specific intervention technique," and lists two areas of focus: building "a secure emotional attachment between the child and caregiver," and "healing the psychological, emotional, and behavioral issues that develop as a result of the parent-child disruption and/or early trauma."

Opponents of Attachment Therapy offer a harsher definition. According to  Advocates for Children in Therapy, "AT has two major components to it. First, there is a hands-on treatment involving physical restraint and discomfort ... usually accompanied by the second component, a phalanx of parenting techniques which brings AT brutality into the home, on a 24/7 basis. Both components are without basis in psychological theory or research evidence."

A report on Attachment Therapy by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, while condemning techniques that involve physical coercion and forcibly changing the child, states, "There are many non-controversial interventions designed to improve attachment quality which are based on accepted theory and use generally supported techniques. ... Therapy for maltreated children described as having attachment problems emphasizes providing a stable environment and taking a calm, sensitive, non-intrusive, non-threatening, patient, predictable, and nurturing approach toward children."

Attachment Therapy may be used to describe controversial practices like rebirthing, compression, and holding, or techniques promoted by therapists such as Nancy Thomas, Foster Cline, Greg Keck, Martha Welsh, and Dan Hughes. 

Differences Between Attachment Therapy and Traditional Therapy

"Fix the Foundation"
"Build the House" on a cracked foundation.
Family is the primary healing resource.  If we trust the family with the child, then we should trust the family with the child's history.Child is seen alone by professional.  Information is not always shared with the family.
Parents set behavioral goals.Child assists in behavioral goal setting.
Corrective Attachment ParentingToken Economies

"Giving Child the Words".  Not talking about the child's issues says, "What happened to you is so bad that even we grown-ups can't talk about it".  It is less traumatizing to talk about the child's issues than to let the child live with the issues.
Wait for the child to talk about issues.
Quick to switch to different strategies.Continue with more of the same.
"Heal the Pathology"
"Diagnose and Medicate"
Limited use of auxiliary services.  Wraparound often takes the child away from the family.  Too many adults are involved in the child's life who are on a different page, working on behavioral goals without working on issues, often providing rewards the parents are not in favor of, the least skilled people provide the most amount of services (i.e., TSS).Overuse of Auxiliary Services.

Finding an Attachment Therapist: - I really like using this website for searching for therapists/psychiatrist, because it allows me to choose based on location (search by city or zip code), specialties (child and adolescent, EMDR, trauma…), insurance (do they accept Medicaid, BCBS, UBH…?), you can even search by gender (I have a child who can’t have a male therapist).  Do be aware that they have to pay to be on this list.

Questions to Ask an Attachment Therapist:

Having a bad therapist is worse than having no therapist at all. Here's a post with some good questions to ask an attachment therapist. Questions To Ask an Attachment Therapist

Some of my posts about attachment therapy:
What Attachment Therapy Isn't 

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