Attachment is the sense of connection that exists in all relationships.  Attachment in development influences the child's physical, neurological, cognitive, psychological, and social development.  In turn, attachment shapes parent reactions to that relationship.  This connection relationship for the child forms the basis of basic trust or mistrust and shapes how the child will relate to the world, learn, and form relationships throughout their lifetime.  

This process can be disrupted through a child's felt or perceived life experiences.  Examples of experiences that can disrupt secure connections include: multiple caregivers, adoption/foster care, invasive or fearful medical procedures, traumatic separations, divorce and or death of a parent, multiple moves, neglect, abuse or exposure to violence, parents too busy, little time spent in the child's world, parent workaholicism, or a parent's drug or alcohol use.  

Neurological tendencies can also effect connection and often leave caregivers with insecure feelings.  Neurological tendencies within the child include: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Tourette's syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Autism, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  When combined with single incident trauma, neurological difficulties can create difficulty, within the child and for the caregivers.

Children with attachment disturbances often project an image of self sufficiency, charm, or an exaggerated sense of inadequacy.  Self sufficiency masks hurt and angry feelings and feelings of inferiority (shame based sense of self worth).  They may also present a sense of inadequacy to avoid the expectations of others (withdrawal).  Accompanying these processes are compulsive states; rigid, self-critical, critical of others and finding transitions hard.  A child's hurt, angry or anxious thoughts often mask fears that are acted out in resistant behavior; thus perpetuating the idea that others can't really love them, nor are they truly loveable.

Children with attachment disturbances often have trouble giving and receiving affection on parent terms and may appear demanding or clingy.  Insecurely attached children often stress parents by using continual distracting chatter, especially when directed by adults in some way.  Attachment behavior problems may include:

  • Lying
  • Poor eye contact
  • Abnormal eating patterns
  • Lack of coping skills
  • Impulse issues
  • Poor conscience development
  • Engaging in power struggles with adults (parents)

Children and adolescents described as attachment disturbed often do not respond to traditional therapies.  medications can modify symptoms, but not reach the child's need for security.  Medication approaches do not help children or adolescents internalize parent values and fail to develop the child's desire to seek parent approval or avoid parent disapproval.  Therapy and parenting approaches that utilize elements of the secure parent-child relationship have often been found to be more helpful.

Attachment Based Relationship Therapy® uses a experiential and narrative approaches that includes setting boundaries adult to child, challenges that cause a child to work at overcoming parent expectations, engagement to draw a child out when reluctant, and nurturing all provided in a playful context.  Generally, the focus is on teaching parents to be attuned to children's nonverbal cues using experiential and asset-based reflective language. This unique approach sees parents as experts in their own family and the clinician as the support to create powerful change.  The emotional closeness of the treatment involves a lifestyle relationship that provides a love based therapeutic experience resulting in a foundation for the healthy attachment between parent and child.

What is Attachment and ABRT®?

Attachment Based Relationship Therapy (ABRT)®

improving family interactions and relationships!