Although reactive attachment disorder has gained more attention recently, it’s still a relatively new diagnosis. Many professionals still feel confused about how to assess and treat reactive attachment disorder (RAD). Their lack of accurate information prevents many professionals from treating kids with RAD in the most effective ways.
Here are five mistakes clinicians make with their clients with RAD:
1. Clinicians frequently misdiagnose reactive attachment disorder.
The most prevalent misdiagnosis for RAD is attention deficit disorder. Find out more here.
2. Professionals often mistake foster and adoptive parents as unreasonably angry people.
To parent a child with RAD depletes hope and emotional endurance from the most patient people. Typical parenting strategies don’t work for kids with RAD.
Over the years, parents begin to feel fearful, sad, hopeless, and angry. These feelings are especially normal for mothers. Children with RAD commonly treat mothers as their “nurturing enemies” and push them away with deceptive behaviors that others (clinicians, school staff, family members, etc.) do not witness. Many mothers begin to feel “crazy”, isolated, and depressed. To learn more about this, please watch my video interview with Carrie O’Toole, Why Attachment Disorder Affects the Entire Family.
3. Therapists think love and joy will fix everything.
Love isn’t enough to help kids with RAD. In fact, they feel threatened by love. Kids with RAD act out more when their parents—particularly mothers—try to get close to them. Traditional therapy methods don’t work for kids with RAD.
4. Clinicians tend to focus on individual therapy with the child rather than family therapy.
Kids with RAD are exceptionally skilled at superficially charming their therapists and lying about their parents. Learn how we work as a team with kids with RAD and their families at IACD.
5. Clinicians often utilize behavior modification techniques to create behavioral changes.
To control the behaviors of kids with RAD is a waste of time and energy. Instead, clinicians need to help kids with RAD develop trusting relationships with their parents.
Learn How to Assess RAD and Work with Families
If you’re a clinician who would like further training in RAD assessment and treatment, I provide workshops for professionals. My training includes how to determine severity of attachment problems, the psychological health of attachment figures, and family dynamics that affect RAD. I also cover how to rule in or rule out mood disorders, recommend treatment for clients with RAD, and work with families. To learn more about RAD in general, please watch our series of videos on our website.
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