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Attachment disorder

Attachment is the long-lasting psychological and emotional connection between infant and caregiver. It doesn't happen overnight, but forms as a cycle is repeated: child has a need, child expresses need, need is met by caregiver. After many such cycles the child develops a sense of security and trust and will become attached to the caregiver. A well-attached infant regards the caregiver as a secure base from which to explore his surroundings. He feels secure and loved, and can attain his potential.

A child with attachment disorder, on the other hand, is poorly attached: hasn't learned how to trust and has difficulty forming lasting relationships. Such a child may show lack of eye contact, indiscriminate affection with strangers, inability to give and receive affection, separation anxiety, and be inappropriately demanding and clingy.

In orphanages in many countries, infants suffered from neglect or abuse and, lacking a feeling of security, were unable to make strong attachments later, when adopted. In domestic adoptions, children may also show poor attachment as a result of disruptions, abuse or neglect during the first two years of life. They go through a traumatic separation from mother, abandonment and frequent moves among foster homes. An especially good web site to consult is Attach-China.

Adoption Parenting, For adoptive parents interested in attachment parenting. Articles and info from parents and therapists. Doris Landry, Attachment Coalition of Michigan., Forums on Reactive Attachment Disorder, support for children with RAD. 135 registered users. Family Attachment Mentoring, Lindon, Utah
Articles on Attachment Parenting, 29 articles, 18 books. Natural Child Project, Sunriver OR.
ATTACh, Research; books; registered attachment therapists. Annual conference. Assn. for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children, Lake Villa IL.
Attach-China, Educating parents of children from China and other countries about attachment disorder. Risk for attachment disorder in Chinese children. Articles. Reading list. Therapists.
Attach-China, Email list on attachment trauma issues in adoption. 1,475 members.
Attachment and the Adopted Child, Family Helper publication covers the essentials. Robin Hilborn.
Attachment Center of Kansas, Information on attachment and attachment parenting; statistics; resources. Wichita KS.
Attachment Center at Evergreen see Institute for Attachment and Child Development.
Attachment Disorder, Information Sheet #37E, 2006 (pdf). General, not specific to adoption. Centre of Excellence for Child Welfare, Toronto.
Attachment Disorder Network, Support for families of a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Personal experiences, therapists and support groups. Bimonthly newsletter, Hoofbeats. Nancy Spoolstra, Overland Park KS.
Attachment Disorder Site, Support and information on parenting, therapy. Articles; activities; books. Nancy Geoghegan.
Attachment Disorder Support Group, For parents with AD children. List of therapists, by state. Many attachment links. South Bend IN.
Attachment Parenting International, Help in forming attachment parenting support groups. Lists of support groups. Nashville TN.
Attachment Parenting of Older Children, How to carry the principles of attachment parenting into the school-age years.
Choose a therapist: How to Select an Adoption Therapist, Find a therapist with training, experience and expertise in helping adoptive families. Arthur Becker-Weidman.
Choose a therapist: Selecting and Working With an Adoption Therapist, Professional intervention can help identify connections between problems and adoption, and to plan treatment. Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2005.
Fostering the Parent-Child Attachment Relationship, What happens in institutions; how to get healthy attachment in the first six to nine months. Mary Chesney, International Adoption Clinic, University of Minnesota.
Hannah and Her Mama, [web site not active, Feb. 15, 2007] Hannah was diagnosed with RAD (reactive attachment disorder) and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Susan Ward.
Heal the Hearts Foundation, Support for families of children with RAD. Terri Adams. Riverside CA.
Institute for Attachment and Child Development, Child treatment facility; research; training. [formerly Attachment Center at Evergreen] Kittredge CO.
Nancy Thomas Parenting, Parenting children with attachment disorder. Glenwood Springs CO.
Overview of Reactive Attachment Disorder for Teachers, Control battles; involving the parents; consequencing. Arthur Becker-Weidman.
Pétales Québec, Attachment disorder support group. Montréal-Nord QC.
Promoting Attachment Through the Senses, From Launching a Baby's Adoption. Pat Johnston, 1997.
RadKid.Org: Reactive Attachment Disorder, For parents and caregivers of children with attachment disorder. Childhood disorders, symptoms, getting help, RAD resources, glossary, FAQ. Ken Anderson,
Reactive Attachment Disorder - It's Time to Understand, Speaker's notes for an attachment disorder presentation. 23 slides; PowerPoint source, 830K.
Reactive Attachment Disorder, List of symptoms and causes. Therapists and support groups. Kuddle Kids Korner.
Specific Techniques to Increase Family Attachment, Seven techniques. Deborah Silverstein, 1996.
Suggestions for Parenting the Older Adopted Child with Attachment Issues, How to develop an attached relationship. Brenda McCreight, from Parenting Your Adopted Older Child. 2002.
Theraplay Institute, Therapist-directed play therapy promotes attachment. Wilmette IL.
Understanding Attachment Disorders in Children, Bowlby and Ainsworth; non-attachment; treatment, infant-parent psychotherapy. Arthur Becker-Weidman, 2003.
Use of Creative Therapies in Counseling Children, Resources on using art and games in treating young and traumatized children. Child Welfare Information Gateway.

Articles and books

Alston, John F. "New Findings in Diagnosis, Correlation Between Bipolar Disorder and Reactive Attachment Disorder", Attachments, Winter 1996, pp. 49-52. Appeared in News from FAIR, Fall 1996

Barth, Richard and Julie Miller. "Building Effective Post-Adoption Services: What is the Empirical Foundation?," Family Relations 49, no. 4 (2000), 447-455. For attachment issues Barth does not advocate attachment-based therapies to meet the needs of adoptive families. He recommends adapting evidence-based interventions, such as multi-systemic therapy or assertive community treatment.

Bayless, Linda. Assessing Attachment, Separation and Loss. Child Welfare Institute, Atlanta GA 30309.

Belsky, Jay and Nezworski, Teresa. Clinical Implications of Attachment. Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc., Hillsdale NJ, 1988.

Betts, Donna J., ed. Creative Arts Therapies Approaches in Adoption and Foster Care: Contemporary Strategies for Working With Individuals and Families. Charles C. Thomas, 2003.

Bowlby, John. Attachment and Loss. Basic Books, New York, 1980.

Bowlby, John. The Making and Breaking of Affectional Bonds. Tavistock,London, 1979.

Chesney, Mary. "Fostering the Parent-Child Attachment Relationship", International Adoption Medicine Program, University of Minnesota.

Chisholm, Kim, et al, 1995, "Attachment security and indiscriminately friendly behaviour in children adopted from Romanian orphanages". Summary at

Chisholm, Kim, 1998, "A Three Year Follow-up of Attachment and Indiscriminate Friendliness in Children Adopted from Romanian Orphanages". Summary at

Chisholm, Kim, 2000, "Attachment in Children Adopted from Romanian Orphanages". Summary at

Cline, Foster W. Hope for High Risk and Rage Filled Children: Reactive Attachment Disorder Theory and Intrusive Therapy. Evergreen CO, 1992. History and theory of bonding and attachment. Therapies for psychologists and techniques for parents. For parents, social workers, psychologists.

Cohen, Nancy J. and James D. Duvall. The Family Attachment Program: An Innovative Program For Working With Families Adopting Older Children. C.M. Hincks Institute, Toronto, 1996.

Fahlberg, Vera. A Child's Journey Through Placement. Perspectives Press, Indianapolis IN, 1991. A pediatrician shows how breaks in attachment affect a child's behaviour, intellectual development and emotional well-being. Information for parents and professionals about normal child development, using anecdotes, case examples, exercises, practical suggestions.

Gianforte Mansfield, Lynda and Waldmann, Christopher H. Don't Touch My Heart: Healing the Pain of an Unattached Child. Piñon Press, Colorado Springs CO, 1994. An adoptive mother's account of an attachment disordered child. Support for parents and practitioners affected by rage-filled children.

Gray, Deborah. Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today's Parents. Perspectives Press, 2002. 317-872-3055, A practical guide, helping parents identify the attachment issues their children face, and learn strategies for integrating these children into loving families. Stories of parents coping.

Hilborn, Robin. Attachment and the Adopted Child. Family Helper, June 2006.

Hopkins-Best, Mary. Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft. Perspectives Press, Indianapolis IN, 1997, Parenting a child who arrives older than infancy but younger than kindergarten age. Tools for transitioning and promoting attachment. Advice on whether or not to adopt a toddler. Strategies to help build strong family ties.

Hughes, Daniel A. Building the Bonds of Attachment: Awakening Love in Deeply Troubled Children. Jason Aronson, Northvale NJ, 2001. ISBN 0-7657-0168-5. A girl enters the foster care system at five after being neglected by her birthparents. Behaviours of attachment disordered children; therapy to help them.

Hughes, Daniel A. Facilitating Developmental Attachment. Jason Aronson, Northvale NJ, 1997.

James, Beverly. Handbook for Treatment of Attachment-Trauma Problems in Children. Lexington Books, ISBN 0-02-916005-7.

James, Beverly. Treating Traumatized Children. Lexington Books, ISBN 0-669-20994-5.

Jernberg, Ann, and Phyllis Booth. Theraplay. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 1999. Theraplay Institute, 708-256-7334. Theraplay is an engaging, playful treatment method based on attachment-based theories and research.

Johnston, Pat. Launching a Baby's Adoption. Dealing with issues of child care, attachment, parenting adjustments, post-arrival blues.

Karen, Robert, Becoming Attached: Unfolding the Mysteries of the Infant Mother Bond and Its Impact on Later Life. Time-Warner Books, 1994. Comprehensive history of attachment research.

Keck, Gregory C., and Regina M. Kupecky. Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow. Piņon Press, Colorado Springs CO, 2002. With informed parenting and appropriate therapy, your adopted child can heal and grow. The attachment cycle.

Klaus, Marshall H., et al. Bonding: Building the Foundations of Secure Attachment and Independence. Addison-Wesley, Reading MA, 1995.

Magid, Ken, and McKelvey, Carole. High Risk: Children Without a Conscience. Bantam Books, New York, 1988. Attachment.

Marcovitch, Sharon et al. Recovery from Early Institutional Care: Predictors of Attachment and Development for Internationally Adopted Romanian Orphans. Health Canada, Mental Health Division.

McKelvey, Carole A., Editor. Give Them Roots Then Let Them Fly: Understanding Attachment Therapy. Attachment Center Press, Evergreen CO, 1995. Attachment experts write about history, attachment disorder, therapeutic parenting, and developing a community.

Melina, Lois. Raising Adopted Children: A Manual for Adoptive Parents. New York: Harper and Row, 1998, Medical issues for internationally adopted children, children from orphanages, bonding and attachment, racial and ethnic issues, transracial adoption.

Randolph, Elizabeth. Children Who Shock and Surprise: A Guide to Attachment Disorders. RFR Publ., Catati CA, 1994.

Thomas, Nancy. When Love is Not Enough: A Guide to Parenting Children with Attachment Disorder. Families by Design, Glenwood Springs CO, 1997.

Van Gulden, Holly and Lisa Bartels-Rabb. Real Parents, Real Children: Parenting the Adopted Child. New York: Crossroad, 1995. Explaining adoption to children and minimizing difficulties during transfers.

Verrier, Nancy Newton. The Primal Wound. The behaviours of children with attachment difficulties.

Welch, Martha G. Holding Time. Simon and Schuster, New York, 1988. Parenting techniques to help with bonding and attachment. Attachment therapy.

Attachment therapists

Help is available from attachment therapists. Some therapies used are regressive therapy, behaviour management, reparenting, rage reduction therapy, holding therapy, play therapy and art therapy.


Attachment Disorder Support and Resource, 8116 - 187 St., Edmonton AB T5T 1K3, 403-484-9179.

Banks Counselling And Consulting, Laura Banks, 1 Quarry Ridge Rd., #102, Barrie ON, 705-727-2311, Adoptive parent and therapist specializing in attachment work, pre- and post-adoption issues, infertility and grief and loss.

Brenda McCreight Consulting, Nanaimo BC, 250-729-9193,, Strategies for dealing with challenging behaviors in children, including attachment concerns. Provides counselling and consulting at her Nanaimo office plus parent coaching online and by telephone. See details at Adoption Agencies,

Canadian Art Therapy Association, Art therapy can be used to encourage attachment. The playful activity develops eye contact, touch and creative interactions.

Canadian Association for Child and Play Therapy, Play therapy helps children who have experienced trauma, allowing them to "play out" their feelings.

Calgary Family Services, Adoptive Counselling Services, 300 - 906 8 Ave. SW, Calgary T2P 1H9. 403-269-9888. Attachment therapy.

Nancy J. Cohen Ph.D., C.Psych., 425 Eglinton Ave. W., Toronto M5N 1A4, 416-967-4530, Psychologist doing attachment-based therapies in private practice. Dr. Cohen is a researcher, clinician and teacher in child and family mental health, including adoption, and Director of Research, Hincks-Dellcrest Centre, Toronto.

Lee Crawford M.Ed., R.C.C., 659 A Moberly Rd., Vancouver V5Z 4B3, 604-875-9957, Art therapist.

Forest Cottage Centre, Tanya Helton M.Sc., Edmonton AB, 780-450-2491, 1-877-261-6361,, Parent coaching. Speaker on parenting children with attachment issues. E-mail newsletter.

Joanne Hayward Art Therapy Services, 38 Jasper St., Port Clements BC V0T 1R0, 250-557-4240, Counseling, art therapy.

Susan Johnson-Douglas, Centre for Psychological Services, Univ. of Ottawa, Ottawa, 613-562-5800 ex. 4813, Psychologist.

Annette Kussin MSW, RSW, Director, Leaside Therapy Centre, 1395 Bayview Ave., Toronto M4G 3A6, 416-481-2600,, Works with adopted children with attachment disorders, and their families.

Mirek Lojkasek, Ph.D., C.Psych., Clinical and Developmental Psychologist, 114 Maitland St., Toronto M4Y 1E1, 416-972-1935 x3313, Working with attachment issues in adoption.

Marilyn Magnuson MSW, RSW, DVATI, Express Yourself Child and Family Art Therapy, 120, 313-2nd Ave. N., Saskatoon S7K 2B1, 221-6024,, Art therapist.

Ruwa Sabbagh Ph.D., 151 Harbord St., Toronto M5S 1H1, 416-831-9270, Psychologist Ruwa Sabbagh focusses on attachment disorders. Assessment and treatment of children.

Cynthia Shaffer, #301, 240 Catherine St., Ottawa, 613-565-5067. Psychologist.

Lorie Walton M.Ed., Family First Play Therapy Centre, 47 Holland St West, Box 1698, Bradford ON L3Z 2B9, 905-775-1620, Theraplay therapist / trainer / supervisor. Services for children and families with emotional, attachment, social and behavioural problems. Structured sibling visitation sessions; attachment-related therapies; play therapy; trauma and sexual abuse assessments and treatment; workshops and training on attachment and play therapy; art therapy; anger management and social skills tor children.

Sandra Webb, Sandra Webb Counselling, Box 214, Cobourg ON K9A 4K5, 905-377-1912,, Counselling, adoption, play therapy and sandtray-worldplay. Therapy for children or adults with adoption-related issues, such as grief, behavior problems, attachment disorders.


Directory: Attachment Therapists, By State, Attachment Disorder Support Group.

Directory: Parent-Recommended Therapists, Attachment therapists by state, as recommended by parents. Nancy Thomas, Families by Design.

Directory: Registered Members, Clinicians and clinics across the U.S. (therapists registered with ATTACh).

Adoption/Attachment Partners, 4300 Evergreen Lane, #300, Annandale VA 22003, 703-658-7103.

Association for Play Therapy, 2060 N. Winery Avenue, #102, Fresno, CA 93703, 559-252-2278,,

ATTACh, Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children, 95 W. Grand Ave., #206, Lake Villa IL 60046, 847-356-3506,, Leading attachment education and advocacy association. ATTACh has a registration process for attachment therapy professionals, and offers registered members as resources for families seeking therapy for their children.

Attachment and Bonding Center of Nebraska, 302 S. 74th St., Omaha NE 68114-4628, 402-392-8949, Debra Combs.

Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio, 12608 State Rd., #1, Cleveland OH 44133, 440-230-1960, Gregory Keck, Regina Kupecky. Pre- and post-adoption counselling; attachment therapy.

Attachment and Bonding Center of PA, Services for treating attachment disorder. Warminster PA.

Center for Family Development, Arthur Becker-Weidman, 5820 Main St., #406, Williamsville NY 14221, 716-810-0790,, Treatment for children with attachment disorder. Training in attachment therapy for professionals and parents.

Daniel A. Hughes Ph.D., 1316 Elm St., Lebanon PA 17042, 717-450-4258,, Clinical psychologist. Childhood trauma/attachment therapy. Consultation and training for therapists and parents. Family-based treatment focused on facilitating the child's ability to establish a secure attachment with caregivers.

The Infant-Parent Institute, Dr. Michael Trout, 328 North Neil St., Champaign IL 61820, 217-352-4060,, Private practice, and research and training facility. "The person we become is rooted in the attachments made in the first three years of life."

Institute for Attachment and Child Development, Box 730, Kittredge CO 80457, 303-674-1910, [formerly Attachment Center at Evergreen] Child treatment facility; research; training.

Jane Brown Adoption Playshops, Jane A. Brown, M.S.W., 10926 N. 128th Pl., Scottsdale AZ 85259, 480-451-9831, Children's workshops use play to help young adoptees explore how it feels to grow up adopted.

Parent Network for the Post-Institutionalized Child (PNPIC), Box 613, Meadow Lands PA 15347, 412-222-1766,, A support network devoted to understanding the medical, developmental, emotional and educational needs of children adopted from hospitals, orphanages and institutions.

Articles and books

 Adoption Resource Central
 General    Considering    Collecting   Private    Public    Intn'l    Medical
 Countries   Agencies   Photolist   Gay   Older   Open   Single   Support
 Special needs   Attachment  ADD  FAS    Institutions   Learning   Sensory  Parenting    Talking    School    Transracial   Culture   Search

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Contact: Robin Hilborn,
Box 1203, Southampton, Ont. N0H 2L0 Canada
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URLs verified, Feb. 15, 2007
Updated, Jan. 30, 2016

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