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Concerned About Unconventional Mental Health Interventions?

Concerned About Unconventional Mental Health Interventions?
Alternative Psychotherapies: Evaluating Unconventional Mental Health Treatments

Thursday, October 18, 2018

How Not to Get Any Help for Children That You Think Have Reactive Attachment Disorder

Have you, or has someone else, decided that your child has Reactive Attachment Disorder? Has this diagnosis been made because the child is aloof, aggressive, sneaky, and avoids being affectionate on your terms? I know there are a lot of you out there, and many of you feel pretty desperate—you don’t even like the child any more, and that disturbs you as much as the child’s behavior does. You and the child need the help of knowledgeable professionals, or it seems that the least awful thing that could happen is disrupting the adoption or putting the child in residential treatment until age 18.

I’m going to tell you how NOT to get any help for your family. Part of my instructions will be drawn from a book by Keri Willimas, “Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD): The essential guide for parents”, a self-published book available on Amazon.

1.     1.  Get into an argument with any available professional about whether your child’s behavior problems and your emotional distress are caused by Reactive Attachment Disorder. Insist that no matter what the mental health professional shows you in DSM-5, the problems that concern you are indicative of an attachment disorder and nothing else. Stay focused on the name that’s used, not on a discussion of the mood and behavior problems of the child and others in the family. If the professional tells you the name is not important, leave and do not make another appointment. This will ensure that your family does not get any help in thinking about the many sources of behavior problems and various effective ways of treating them.

2.      2. Go immediately back to your on line support groups and have them reinforce your beliefs that attachment and attachment disorders in the child are at the root of all family problems. Ask them to recommend practitioners who will accept your diagnosis and start doing attachment therapy of some kind. This will guarantee that you will not risk encountering any professional psychologists or clinical social workers who are trained in work with children’s behavior problems.

3.    3.   If you lose faith and call a mental health professional with advanced training, or a clinic that employs such people, be sure you demand immediately to know whether they treat Reactive Attachment Disorder (or simply, attachment disorders). If they hesitate or ask you to be more specific about the problem, hang up--  they obviously are not RAD specialists. This way you won’t accidentally connect with anyone who might have the training to help your family.

4.    4.   If you locate some mental health professionals that you might use, be sure to choose the one with the lowest level of training and licensure; with any luck you could find someone who is operating under another person’s license. The less trained the people are, the nicer they are, and the more likely they are to listen to you unquestioningly. If you do this, you can be almost sure that you will not run up against a practitioner who knows more than you and your support groups do and might actually be of help.

5.     5.  Always assume that only other people who have lived with a child with behavior problems can understand or be of any help to you. This will assist you in avoiding mental health professionals who are trained in working with many kinds of families and many overlapping problems.

6.      6. Be sure not to use any evidence-based programs like Parent-Child Interaction Therapy that ask you to learn new things or to work with your child in new ways. Insist that the child be fixed and that no other family changes take place. Generally, this will avoid any beneficial changes.

7.    7.   It’s wise to choose only treatments that assume one single factor, like RAD, as the cause of any of the problems you are experiencing. Most problems have multiple causes, so focusing on a single one can help you avoid any benefits of treatment that you might otherwise get.

8.      If you choose a treatment program, make sure it’s trademarked. That will mean that nobody can get at evidence to test whether it is both safe and effective. The proprietors will be able to make all sorts of claims and have their statements protected as commercial speech. You won’t have to worry about understanding empirical research or asking any of the right questions, which will be much more comfortable for you although not very likely to be of any help to your family.

9.      Always follow the recommendations made by Keri Williams in her book (mentioned above). She certainly knows how to prevent even the best-qualified mental health professional from helping your family. For instance, she advises parents, “Be very cautious about sharing sensitive information about yourself with your child’s therapist. It’s easy to think of them as objective. They’re not. If it comes to taking sides, they’re on your child’s side. Don’t blurt out that you don’t feel affectionate towards your children, that you are frustrated, or that you are angry. If you do, that’s almost certainly the only thing they’ll focus on going forward. They’ll conclude that your feelings and actions, not RAD, are the cause of your child’s behaviors. If the therapist focuses on ‘fixing’ you, your child will not get the help they so desperately need.” This approach, akin to treating repeated illness with antibiotics rather than considering what environmental factors are causing it, will certainly make sure that your family avoids help but is instead encouraged to find residential placement for a child and “love her at a distance”--- and all your friends will say how brave you are and how sad it is that your child was so damaged that no one could help. (How about suing the adoption agency too?)

You see, it’s pretty easy when you know how. You can be sure your aggressive or behaviorally disturbed child never gets any help, while at the same time claiming the moral high ground as the victim and sufferer who has only been trying to do the best thing for everyone. Just don’t forget to talk about RAD a lot.

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