attachment disorder therapy



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It is imperative that treatment be preceded by a comprehensive assessment to determine the causes of the difficulties being presented.  At the Center for Family Development we know that it is causes that are treatment and that a symptom may have different causes and that there are different treatment for different underlying conditions. 

We offer comprehensive evaluations that include assessing the seven domains of potential impairment caused by Complex Trauma (Developmental Trauma Disorder) {Attachment, Behavioral Regulation, Emotional Regulation, Cognition, Dissociation and Defenses, Biology, and Self-Concept).  We screen for sensory-integration dysfunction, neuropsychological and executive function impairments, the effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol and drugs, and a variety of other issues and concerns. 


We offer comprehensive and evidence-based treatment for families, children, and adolescents, as well as parent consultation for a range of mental health concerns and life stressors such as:
Diagnostic specialization includes:

Life stressors specialization includes:

  • Peer Problems
  • Academic Pressures
  • Post-Adoption Issues and Parent-Child Attachment Related Concerns
  • Bereavement
  • Divorce
  • Parenting Conflicts and Dilemmas (e.g., conflicts with spouse or partner about how to discipline, excessive worry about how to parent your child, difficulties handling your child's new stage of development)
  • Medical and Health Issues (e.g., mental health issues related to or resultant from acute or chronic medical illnesses)
  • Trauma (e.g., childhood physical or sexual abuse, car accident)

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Many parents feel frustrated with or distressed about their child by the time they contact us and even a bit undermined in their ability to parent effectively. You have probably tried everything you can think of and still are not happy with the results.  Maybe you’ve tried other treatments, all with no effect.  That is why we feel very strongly that before treatment begins, we conduct a thorough and comprehensive evaluation.  In our treatment, we empower families and parents so that treatment is a positive experience for parents that allows them to learn new, more adaptive ways to relate to their child and to themselves as parents.

We use a variety of approaches, matched to the assessment and needs of the family, parents, child, and adolescent.  A few of these are described below:

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT):  TF-CBT is a conjoint child and parent psychotherapy approach for children and adolescents who are experiencing significant emotional and behavioral difficulties related to traumatic life events.  It is a components-based treatment model that incorporates trauma-sensitive interventions with cognitive behavioral, family, and humanistic principles and techniques.  Children and parents learn new skills to help process thoughts and feelings related to traumatic life events; manage and resolve distressing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related traumatic life events; and enhance safety, growth, parenting skills, and family communication.
TF-CBT has proved successful with children and adolescents (ages 3 to 18) who have significant emotional problems (e.g., symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, fear, anxiety, or depression) related to traumatic life events.  This treatment can be used with children and adolescents who have experienced a single trauma or multiple traumas in their life.

Children or adolescents experiencing traumatic grief can also benefit from this treatment.

TF-CBT is designed to be a relatively short-term treatment, typically lasting 12 to 16 sessions.  Over 80 percent of traumatized children who receive TF-CBT experience significant improvement after 12 to 16 weeks of treatment.  Treatment may be provided for longer periods depending upon individual child and family needs.
TF-CBT can be used as part of a larger treatment plan for children with complex difficulties.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral therapy is the most well-supported and effective treatment for children who have been abused and traumatized. Multiple clinical research studies consistently have found it to help children with PTSD and other trauma-related problems, and it has been rated a Model Program and Best Practice for use with abused and traumatized children. TF-CBT currently is being used successfully in community service agencies across the country.
TF-CBT has proven to be effective in addressing posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, externalizing behaviors, sexualized behaviors, feelings of shame, and mistrust.  The parental component increases the positive effects for children by reducing parents' own levels of depression and emotional distress about their children's abuse and improving parenting practices and support of their child.

TF-CBT was rated a "1-Well-supported, efficacious treatment", the highest level of empirical support in the U.S. Department of Justice sponsored report Child Physical and Sexual Abuse: Guidelines for Treatment.

Attachment-Focused Treatment (Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy):  Loving, healthy, supportive, safe, and secure parent-child relationships are central to DDP.  It is an approach that has extensive empirical support for the treatment of adoption-related issues, trauma, and attachment disorders among foster and adopted children.  The focus of treatment is to remediate the children’s past experiences of absent, neglectful, or abusive caregivers. DDP facilitates the child’s experience of being understood and accepted unconditionally by their adoptive or foster parents, in order to develop their ability to cope more effectively with stressful feelings and to deepen their capacity to form close relationships. Treatment begins with helping parents implement attachment-focused parenting.  Once this phase is completed,   both parent and child are present in the session so that there are more opportunities to directly address the relationship. The emphasis is on creating experiences that are therapeutic for both parents and child by choosing emotionally and developmentally appropriate goals instead of expressing disappointment and anger about what the child “should” be able to do. A playful, safe, accepting, curious, and empathic environment is created to explore tough topics that are often avoided, like shameful feelings about “bad” behavior or episodes of past neglect or abuse.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a relatively short-term, active treatment for a wide range of mental health issues including: depression, anxiety, anger, loneliness, panic attacks, perfectionism, procrastination, discomfort in social situations, and self-criticism. CBT has been found to be an effective form of treatment for children, adolescents and adults and has extensive empirical support. The focus of treatment is on identifying how you are thinking, feeling, and behaving in your daily life and then understanding how each dimension of these thoughts, emotions and behaviors impact one another. CBT helps children identify patterns of biases in their thinking, or “thinking traps”, and provides guidance on how to challenge and change these distortions that are negatively impacting mood and/or behavior.

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT):  Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is an empirically-supported treatment for young children with emotional and behavioral disorders that places emphasis on improving the quality of the parent-child relationship and changing parent-child interaction patterns. In PCIT, parents are taught specific skills to establish a nurturing and secure relationship with their child while increasing their child’s prosocial behavior and decreasing negative behavior. This treatment focuses on two basic interactions: Child Directed Interaction (CDI) is similar to play therapy in that parents engage their child in a play situation with the goal of strengthening the parent-child relationship; Parent Directed Interaction (PDI) resembles clinical behavior therapy in that parents learn to use specific behavior management techniques as they play with their child.

 Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT):  Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive-behavioral treatment approach with two key characteristics: a behavioral, problem-solving focus blended with acceptance-based strategies, and an emphasis on dialectical processes. "Dialectical" refers to the issues involved in treating adolescents and adults with multiple disorders and to the type of thought processes and behavioral styles used in the treatment strategies. DBT has five components: (1) capability enhancement (skills training); (2) motivational enhancement (individual behavioral treatment plans); (3) generalization (access to therapist outside clinical setting, homework, and inclusion of family in treatment); (4) structuring of the environment (programmatic emphasis on reinforcement of adaptive behaviors); and (5) capability and motivational enhancement of therapists (therapist team consultation group). DBT emphasizes balancing behavioral change, problem-solving, and emotional regulation with validation, mindfulness, and acceptance of patients. Therapists follow a detailed procedural manual.




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Last updated on: January 21, 2017  

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