You-are-not-crazy. You weren’t crazy before you brought this child into your home. In fact, before you did that no one ever thought you were crazy. No one else caused you to question your own sanity. Now, there’s a person with a sheepskin and expressionless face explaining to you in monotone the things you can change so that you can cope with a child who may be a little rambunctious, but who is just fine. Listen to me. It’s not you. It wasn’t you before and it’s still not you. You just have the wrong therapist. Reactive Attachment Disorder therapy requires you to hire a professional who specializes in that field if you truly expect positive results.
The more agitated you get while trying to express that things with your child aren’t normal, the calmer the wrong therapist becomes while telling you that your expectations are just too high. Your child, while watching the therapist correct you, is ecstatic. That’s your first sign that your child’s Reactive Attachment Disorder therapy is on the wrong path with the wrong therapist. If your child’s therapist doesn’t understand that all people involved with helping a child with RAD need to be working together, on the same team, focusing on what the child needs to do to fit in with society’s rules, it’s only going to get worse. Valium for the parent isn’t going to fix the very real problem of a child who finds it necessary to control everything and everyone at every moment.
When a therapist can be manipulated by the patient, Reactive Attachment Disorder therapy doesn’t work.
If the therapist is suggesting unreasonable compromise as a solution, that is your second clue. Reactive Attachment Disorder therapy needs to focus far less on compromise than most types of psychological therapy. It blew me out of the water when our daughter’s first therapist told me that she felt like she needed two hours per day from her mother, and two hours a day from her father. She needed to make up for lost time (we adopted her when she was fifteen). My wife gasped. I asked the therapist if he had a calculator. When he just looked at me strangely, I told him that we had nine children. I told him that if he put nine into his calculator, then pushed the big “X” button, then the “number two” button, then the button with two little horizontal lines, that the result would be eighteen (I told him to trust me, the calculator would agree). “I don’t know how you think that my wife and I each have eighteen hours a day to spend in one-on-one attention with our children!” I blurted. His monotone answer was delivered as casually as his first suggestion. He asked me if one hour from Mom and one hour from Dad, each day, sounded more reasonable. I told him we were really going to need a calculator to continue the conversation, since we were having such trouble with single digit math. Toward the end of the conversation, he told me that I just needed to learn to compromise with my daughter. I explained that my daughter thought that every rule in the world was negotiable and that one week later, a new argument would allow even more latitude. I asked him how many homicides we should set as the absolute limit. Then I fired him. It wasn’t out of spite. (Well, it wasn’t just from spite.) When a therapist can be manipulated by the patient, Reactive Attachment Disorder therapy doesn’t work.
In the beginning, all children with RAD struggle with lying. They don’t even understand there is anything wrong with it. Speech is a tool they use to try to get what they want; nothing more, nothing less. Often therapists use the tool of placing the patient in a “safe place,” where their responses will produce no negative outcome for them. Then the therapist assumes that the answers given are true. When I told another of my daughter’s therapists that she hadn’t done hard drugs in Russia, like she told him she had, he told me I was wrong. “Why would she lie?” he asked. I told him I didn’t need to figure out a motive, I simply knew she had lied. I told him there were drugs on the list that she would not have even known the Russian words for, much less the English versions. When that didn’t convince him, I asked my daughter if she had done pink cocaine or green cocaine (I didn’t even give her the option of white). When she hesitated, I told her I didn’t think they even had pink cocaine in Russia, that it was much too strong. She jumped at the chance. She told me that they only had pink cocaine in Russia. After several similar examples, including how she took marijuana with needles to get a better high, the therapist saw that something my daughter said could not be taken at face value simply because it wouldn’t help her to lie. When a therapist doesn’t believe something you absolutely know to be true and chooses to believe something your child says, that is a third indicator that Reactive Attachment Disorder therapy isn’t going well.
If you are not allowed to participate when it is the appropriate time for your input, this is an indicator that something might not be progressing to your child’s best interest. Make a change in your Reactive Attachment Disorder therapy strategy.
Four: You and your child’s therapist should be a team. Your child needs to learn to conform to society, whether she or the therapist agree with the laws, or society’s expectations. The therapist needs to help your child learn to conform to reasonable rules in your home, whether or not he agrees with them. These are keys to successful Reactive Attachment Disorder therapy. If you are rarely welcome in the counseling sessions with your child, if you are not allowed to participate when it is the appropriate time for your input, this is an indicator that something might not be progressing to your child’s best interest. Make a change in your Reactive Attachment Disorder therapy strategy.
The fifth signal is blatant. Therapists are people in a profession. Just like other professions, there are all kinds of specialists. There are all degrees of competence. No one is perfect in their job. But if your child has the ability to manipulate their therapist, you are fighting a losing battle. We had a therapist who was not comfortable with having us in the meetings. One day, he approached my wife and said that my daughter had told him that I was kicking and bruising her. He told my wife that if he heard more of this, that he would need to report it. The next day we took my daughter to the doctor and had her strip down to show her the bruises. When the doctor found nothing, my daughter admitted that she had lied to the therapist because she was angry at me on the night she had therapy. Even if I could have trusted the therapist to see the light after that, my daughter had learned that she could manipulate him. It was easier to find another therapist that we wouldn’t need to train in Reactive Attachment Disorder therapy.
There are good therapists out there who understand Reactive Attachment Disorder therapy.
My adopted daughters have come from a very traumatic past. Some of them absolutely need a therapist. But they really need a therapist that understands their very strange condition, which often requires very different techniques than other forms of mental illness. Don’t let me get you down. There are good therapists out there who understand Reactive Attachment Disorder therapy. We have worked with several, and nothing has done more to help our daughters and our family.
You have a troubled child. getting the proper Reactive Attachment Disorder therapy for her is critical. It is worth everything it takes to find the right therapist.
Your comments matter. Please scroll down and share your thoughts!
Read more blog articles by John M. Simmons about Disorders/Mental Illness
Return to John M. Simmons’ Blog
Ensure you don’t miss anything by signing up for Our Weekly Newsletter. This is all you need to be qualified for occasional giveaways like the Kindle Fire that Kristy Goulart won in July!