Attachment therapy at the center follows the Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children (ATTACh) practice standards that include:
1. The primary goal of treatment with children who have attachment problems is to enable them to form healthy attachment relationships with their current and future families and to resolve the dysfunctional feelings and behaviors developed in response to the early attachment breaks. Discovering the child’s individual inner working model (beliefs about self, others and environment) is important for therapeutic success.
2. Attachment therapy emphasizes trust, empathy, reciprocal behaviors, attunement, communication, touch, physical and emotional closeness and humor and playfulness.
3. Attachment therapy requires a family systems approach. The heart of this disorder is the child’s relationship with their primary caregiver. Working with the family system is essential to the success of the child’s treatment. Parents may have problems, which must be understood and addressed if they are to help their child resolve attachment and other problems.
4. A thorough assessment is needed that includes the following as indicated: the child’s social, medical, placement, mental health and educational history, assessment of parent and family functioning, evaluation of the child’s current functioning and differential diagnosis (this may include any or several DSM or ICD diagnoses).
5. Parents and children are active members of the treatment team working to develop healthier patterns of interacting and communicating. A central therapeutic activity is for the child and family members to experience and then express their emotional responses to past and present situations that are interfering with attachment.
6. The practitioner assists the parents in developing parenting strategies and philosophies, which support the development of healthy attachments, and serves as a consultant to the parents on issues and interventions, including but not limited to the following:
Attachment based therapy at the Center begins with a comprehensive assessment that takes approximately 3-4 sessions. It involves the use of several tools that may include the Randolph Attachment Disorder Questionnaire, Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children, Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function, Child Behavior Checklist, Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Parent Child Relationship Evaluation, Sensory Integration Checklist, Projective Testing and others depending on age of the child and symptoms reported. Once the assessment is completed, a session is held with the parents/caretakers to discuss the results of the testing and treatment options. A report detailing the results of the assessment is provided to the parents.