Specific Issues We are Skilled at Helping
We have been specializing in Trauma and Attachment for over 20 years. The population we serve has not shown improvement from the many forms of treatment attempted and have become treatment-resistant. In doing this work, we will address any clinical needs that remain barriers to growth and progress including, but not limited to:
- Medical Trauma
- Grief and Loss
- Sexuality and Identity
- Family Dynamics
- Eating Disorders
- Peer Issues
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Severe Neglect
To attach is instinctive. Attachment behaviors are necessary for an infant’s survival because they promote caretaking from parents. Healthy attachment develops as a result of the cycle that occurs when an infant expresses a need and someone in the environment satisfies that need. When needs are repeatedly not met the infant cannot develop trust. Instead, a negative blueprint of the world is developed that can have serious consequences on the person’s social, emotional, and physical development. A child needs nurturing, consistency & safety as much as they need food & sleep.
Signs of unhealthy attachments include:
- History of abandonment, neglect, abuse, and/or multiple placements
- Indiscriminately seeks affection and/or comfort from strangers (i.e., pseudo-attachments)
- Anti-social behaviors (e.g., lying, stealing, manipulating, destructiveness, cruelty, fire-setting, aggression)
- Lack of authenticity, spontaneity, flexibility, and empathy
- Lack of physical affection and closeness and/or inappropriate clinginess
- Poor eye contact
- Problems with learning, attending, self-regulating, self-monitoring
- Abnormal eating and elimination patterns (e.g., wetting, soiling, hoarding food)
- The need for a high degree of control
Assessing and Treating Attachment Disorders in Children
Identifying symptoms of attachment problems is only one part of a diagnosis. A diagnosis should only be made by a licensed professional trained in working with children, families and adults familiar with adoption and trauma issues.
An assessment at the Attachment Institute includes a structured interview with the adults in the family, evaluating the child’s performance in various situations or contexts. It also includes a review of the person’s history, as well as the family’s history.
What Makes Us Different?
We approach treatment with a focus on the family. Every person in the home is impacted by the severity of disrupted attachment, therefore, our focus is on the unit as a whole, and is what makes our treatment effective. We understand that a family affected by poor attachment carries its own particular kind of pain. Parent often feel beat up and blamed for the behaviors associated with poor attachment and polarized in their understanding of what is wrong and how to repair it. The child and their siblings often feel victimized, angry, and/or alone for different reasons.
We see parents as the most important members of the clinical team and as such we focus on strengthening and supporting them first. All too often the intimacy between parents suffers and it is impossible to teach a child that intimacy is safe in a house that struggles with intimacy. Our work with parents includes strengthening their relationship, focusing on communication patterns, improving supportive teamwork, and identifying when and how to disengage. We also address any trauma they may have in their history that may impact their ability to help their child heal.
Attachment and Trauma Focused Therapy
- Treatment takes place in an outpatient setting.
- Attachment and Trauma Focused Therapy is an integrative treatment that utilizes elements of multiple therapies including cognitive-behavioral, object relations, psychodynamic, family therapies and biofeedback and EMDR, a specialized form of treatment for trauma.
- Treatment typically requires 12 to 16 two-hour sessions. 1-3 of those sessions are focused on the parents.
- Sessions are usually scheduled one day a week or, if intensive, every day for two weeks.
- Families become emotionally aware so that they can address their child’s dysregulation effectively.
- In most cases two therapists are assigned to each family.
- Therapists already involved with the family are strongly encouraged to participate.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a specialized form of treatment for trauma, may also be used.
- School consultations and training may also be provided as needed.
- The fee for each session is $500.00.
Please contact us to find out more about these services.
What Makes Our Work Trauma-Informed?
Our model integrates many treatment approaches including but not limited to:
- Critical Incident Stress Management
- Internal Family Systems
- Duluth Model for Domestic Violence
- Cognitive Behavioral
- Personal Narrative
With your child, we help them process their history focusing specifically on the faulty belief systems they developed in response to their trauma. These belief systems impair their ability to trust and connect. We explore your child’s history, including in-utero experiences through to the present. We focus on improving what motivates their behavior and developing the empathy needed to repair poor choices when necessary.
Our process offer the high structure and accountability needed for them to feel safe along with the high nurturing needed for them to start to feel valuable. We focus a great deal on keeping your child regulated and in the proper brain state needed to process their pain and gain new understanding. Therapy dogs are often used to assist in the process.
We integrate nature as much as possible. We believe as people we are designed to heal and that both nature and nurture are necessary for the development of healthy attachment. We believe it is important for at least one of the clinicians working with your family to have personal experience in the issues you are trying to address. Many of our staff are adoptive parents or siblings. We have learned much both personally and professionally over the last 20 years of specializing in attachment and trauma. We take our continued growth very seriously so we can continue to support your family as effectively as possible.