PHILOSOPHY OF TREATMENT
At ABC of PA, we believe in hope for healing. We believe we are all inherently designed to desire relationship, and even children who are very reluctant to trust can be reached. We believe our job is "to work ourselves out of a job", enabling children to access the love and care and teaching that their parents are offering them. In this way they will find the joy of family and the growth that comes with receiving teaching and discipline. As you determine the best treatment approach for your child, you will find that, even within the field of attachment therapy there are different philosophies and methods. Some therapists emphasize work with the child individually, others the family; some emphasize the "here and now" relationship while others consider the processing past history a critical element; some are non-directive and others guide the process more intentionally. Below we have listed some key elements of our philosophy of treatment. During an initial appointment, a therapist can discuss specifically how this would apply to your child.
Two critical aspects of attachment in children are the ability to:
1) "let mom and dad's love in" and enjoy a reciprocal caring relationship and
2) feel safe with parents being "in charge" - trusting the limits set by caring adults.
Children with attachment difficulties may struggle with one or both of these areas, usually due to experiences that interfered with the child's ability to form a trusting relationship with caregivers. Current research is providing increasing insight into the impact of trauma, including the trauma of neglect, abuse, deprivation, institutionalization, separation from caregivers, etc. on a child's developing brain. This trauma can have a lasting effect on a child's current response to stressors, and thus his/her ability to process and regulate emotions, relate well to others, accept authority and heal and grow. Depending on your child's specific struggles, treatment will address various areas such as helping them to give and receive nurture, to accept limits and discipline, to articulate their needs, and to verbalize and process emotions.
You are what your child needs. You indeed know your child best, and we see you as the primary healing resource for your child, with the clinician serving as a facilitator. At ABC of PA, you as the parent play an essential role in therapy and are typically a participant in every session with your child. Children who struggle with attachment are very difficult to parent! You may find that "regular" strategies, perhaps even those that were effective with other children in the home, don't seem to reach them. A significant element of treatment will be to provide you with support and training in strategies specifically designed for the behavioral and emotional needs of children with attachment issues, so that your child can respond more positively and you can feel more effectual.
While many of the above strategies apply to current relationships, we also believe that in many cases it is critical for a child to process past history and/or trauma. This enables your child to identify and understand the facts of his/her "story". It also helps them to process the related emotions and discern the faulty beliefs/messages that they have internalized about themselves and about those who love them - beliefs that often impair their current relationships. Equally important, this provides a healing experience as children learn to increasingly accept nurture and empathy from their parents who they come to feel truly understand them. As this trust increases, correction also comes to be seen as part of a loving parent-child relationship and is more readily accepted by the child as loving care rather than simply as control.
We believe it is important to address the child's emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Methods are tailored to the child's needs, but may include:
- Experiential methods such as psychodrama, parent nurturing/cradling, structured play, art, and writing, which can help the child to process past trauma, provide corrective emotional experiences and deepen his/her connections to family.
- Cognitive methods which enable the child to identify and modify destructive beliefs.
- Behavioral interventions to address concerns at home/school and aid parents in feeling more confident in their role.
- Spiritual Sensitivity: Families for whom faith has a significant role sometimes find that issues addressed in therapy have relevance to the spiritual beliefs and practices of the family. Children may be wresting with "big" issues related to family, belonging, personal value/worth, issues of suffering, and faith. If this is a matter of importance to you, please feel free to discuss this with your therapist. You will find that we are very comfortable supporting you as such topics arise during sessions, and in fact we welcome the opportunity to address the child as a whole.
- Attachment difficulties range widely in severity, and understandably require treatment that varies in content, emphasis, intensity and length of treatment. Please discuss with your clinician how your child's needs can best be met.
TREATMENT SERVICES WE OFFER
Assessment and Evaluation Services include:
- Assessment and/or consultation to evaluate a child's current functioning and relationship with family members
- Assessment/evaluation regarding adoption/attachment issues to provide consultation to current service providers
- Pre-adoption consultation for families considering adoption who wish to prepare for the best possible transition for their child.
- One-time consultations for other matters related to adoption or attachment
Treatment Services include:
- Family-oriented treatment for children or adolescents struggling with issues related to adoption, attachment and/or trauma
- Family-oriented treatment for children or adolescents who have a healthy attachment but are wrestling with adoption-related issues
- Parental support and education in addressing behavioral, educational and social concerns as well as sibling and family issues
- Family-oriented treatment that addresses sibling, marital and/or family issues, as desired by the family
- 2 week intensive treatment program - particularly effective with children who have been resistant to previous interventions. Follow-up treatment may be provided at ABC of PA, or coordinated with your local therapist.
- Music therapy - provided either as an adjunct or primary therapy for children struggling with anxiety, depression and/or attachment difficulties
What about older adolescents or even adults?
While we primarily provide services to children and adolescents, we believe it is never too late to start the journey to healing! If you are a young adult, or even an 80 year old adult, please feel free to contact us to discuss how we might be of help.
If you would like to learn more about how we could serve your family, the best way to begin is to schedule an initial appointment. We believe parents are the ones best equipped to determine the best services for their child. Therefore, the purpose of the first appointment is to provide parents (without their children) with an opportunity to share their concerns, provide history and discuss ABC's services. Our therapists will provide some initial impressions and discuss our philosophy of treatment and how we might be of service in your specific situation. At that time, parents are encouraged to determine whether indeed they feel the best course of action would be to proceed with evaluation and/or treatment at ABC of PA.If you decide to go forward, the information provided during this first appointment will have essentially covered the first half of the required assessment process. Or if your family needs only a one-time consult (i.e. if you are seeking information about how to prepare for an adoption, or whether to seek services, or other concerns), feel free to indicate this. If you have any questions about the process, please contact our office manager, Lisa Lind, at 215-443-5060.