Q: I have identified some behavioral issues with my child and have sought help at a local agency. The agency suggested that he receive attachment therapy. What is this?


    A: The term attachment therapy can take on a range of meaning. Be aware of what is meant in your case before agreeing to this therapy. Recommending attachment therapy suggests that your child is and never was, appropriately attached. The diagnostic criteria for unhealthy attachment includes children who:


    • Do not trust anyone in authority
    • Have difficulty controlling manipulative and hostile behaviours
    • Are unable to give or receive love
    • Will not allow anyone to nurture them
    • Does not connect cause and effect so conscience may be impeded
    • Lies, cheats, steals, acts out, manipulates.
    • Is destructive, cruel, argumentative and hostile
    • Is impulsive with no self-control


    First of all, is this describing your child? All children have some of these behaviours at different stages of their childhood. If you think your child is delightful at times, keep in mind that attachment therapists refer to children as ‘artificially charming and engaging’ negating the possibility of any good relationships.


    If your child is deemed to have attachment issues, true attachment therapy employs some very irregular techniques for dealing with it.  They are based on 4 core beliefs:


    1. The child needs to express the rage within in order to improve
    2. Informed consent as it is commonly understood allows the patient the right to withdraw consent at any time and end treatment. Attachment therapy sees any efforts to stop treatment as resistance that warrants an increase of the irregular treatment.
    3. While many agree that when used appropriately, touch may be therapeutic, attachment therapists feel 3.5 hour holding of the child by special holders, is appropriate. Parents are encouraged to lie on top of the child for hours.
    4. Attachment therapists regularly tell the children what they are feeling, based on the beliefs of the therapist and not the thoughts of the child.


    Attachment therapists regularly use restraint and both physical and psychological methods to reach desired results. Painful and uncomfortable holding techniques are used to render the child powerless until they accept authority.

    Unless your child cannot be managed in a home setting attachment therapy is rarely or never needed.  My approach is to help the parent find techniques that are gentle yet effective.    Each plan is to maximize your parenting success and to have happy and secure children.


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