Attachment Therapies

The pages in this category describe several approaches to attachment therapy.

Unlike traditional therapies, these approaches are not based on building a trusting relationship between therapist and client. And unlike older-style attachment therapies, they are not based on the parent or attachment figure wresting control from the child. In our opinion, the best therapies for attachment are those where the parents themselves provide most of the therapy, by maintaining a regulated demeanor in the face of their child’s dysregulation (think Rudyard Kipling’s poem If) and thereby helping their children to regulate.

Attachment theory is still developing, and many professionals still have little to no expertise or experience in this area. Keep searching for those ones who do understand.

Consequences, stricter and stricter rules, control, and fear are unlikely to get you the results you want. Behavior modification is based on cognitive function, but when someone is functioning at a much lower (dysregulated) level, in his lower brain or limbic system, freeze-fight-flight will almost always react before any logic and any thought of reward or negative consequences can kick in and influence behavior.

Our favorites:

This approach is compatible with a regulatory-centered parenting approach, and we’ve heard good things about it, but we have no experience with it.

And Bruce Perry has great material (although written at a pretty technical level):

There is also Daniel Hughes’ approach, called Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy.

Finally, here are some other resources, many of which we used earlier in our adoption journey. (links are external to this site) However, I would caution that any approach that is based on consequences, behavior modification, privileges, sticker charts, or control – probably isn’t going to get you very far if you’re dealing with attachment disorders.

Since several of these sites contain lists of providers, I see no advantage to reproducing those lists here.

Holding is sometimes recommended as a therapy for attachment. However, there is considerable controversy over “holding.” To the best of my knowledge, any version that involves forcible restraint is NOT condoned as a therapy modality by any reputable professional today. This approach has been indicted as responsible for several deaths.

“Holding” as an affectionate, mindful, focused activity that helps establish emotional regulation in both parties, and is enjoyed by both, can certainly contribute to building attachment.

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