If your child or foster child suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), many different treatment options have been offered by mental health professionals. While the treatment has greatly evolved over the past few decades, no set standards have been reached.
Effective treatments usually include educating the child and parents about RAD. Parents may want to attend parenting skills classes and services offered in special education. They may also want to attend family counseling in which they and the child can talk and discuss all aspects of RAD. Because RAD is a disorder that affects the child’s ability to bond or feel attachment/love toward their parents, parents can often become frustrated and exhausted during treatment. They may begin to feel hopeless or that their child is a lost cause. It is important to parents to seek out their own counseling and professional help during this time so that they don’t give up on their child.
By educating the parent, professionals hope to make them and the child understand the causes, risks, and consequences that RAD can have on the child and the family as a whole. This education becomes very important in the treatment process. The professional will incorporate education, family counseling, individual counseling sessions, and medications to help alleviate the symptoms of RAD.
However, it becomes very important for a parent to understand what treatments have been considered controversial and ineffective in the treatment of RAD. They should be on the look out for professionals that may want to experiment with these types of treatments which can cause physical damage and even death to the child.
A common treatment that has now been deemed controversial is “rebirthing” in which the health care professional and parents tightly bound and wrap a child in a blanket to simulate a womb feeling. They then encourage the child to “be born” again and seek release from the constraints of the blanket. However, this procedure has been the cause of at least two known deaths, one that was performed by an unlicensed professional and another that was done by a mother at home. Parents should be cautious of this type of treatment and should seriously consider the risk of suffocation and death in their child. At home procedures should never be done.
Other professionals encourage tightly wrapping or binding the child in a blanket and force hold the child. This often can cause more feelings of anger in the child and has also been deemed ineffective. The child will simply feel out of control and like the bonding experience in being forced.
Other treatments have included the withholding or even forcing of food or drinks. This has resulted in severe malnutrition and even a death in which the mother forced her toddler to drink large volumes of water. Research has shown that using food, whether withholding or forcing, is ineffective and can actually worsen the symptoms of RAD.
Some professionals encourage parents to anger their child in order to create a melt down. They feel that after the child has a temper tantrum or extreme loss of anger, that they will be more vulnerable and susceptible to looking to their parents for guidance. The professional will then encourage the parent to hold and bond with their child. However, many times the child is tickled, pulled at, picked on, and yelled at to bring feelings of anger to the surface. Research has shown that forcing a child to become angry is not an effective treatment of RAD. Rather, it can create more feelings of tension between the parent and child.
Professionals that are current and up to date with research findings and modern treatments of RAD will utilize educational methods, along with counseling to treat the child. They will avoid any of the above treatments that may harm the child or further worsen their symptoms. If your mental health professional is encouraging you to perform or participate in any of these controversial treatments, you should research and look to the findings and risks associated with the treatment.
You should not participate in or allow any type of treatment that you are not comfortable with or that is considered controversial. It is also important to always speak with the professional before trying any type of treatment at home. While you may become frustrated and desperate for help during the treatment, it is important to consider and research every option that is available to your child suffering from RAD.
Seeking help from a licensed professional that understands modern, safe treatments is the first step in treatment. You may also want to consider seeking out residential treatment for a child that has a very serious form of RAD and may put himself or others at risk. A boarding school that has trained and skilled professionals may become the answer and help that you have been looking for.
By providing your child with a stable, secure environment that implements a regimented routine and schedule, a therapeutic boarding school can help your child begin to feel trust and love again. Their trained professionals will offer constant supervision and guidance throughout the treatment of RAD. Because this disorder is long term, parents should not be expected to deal with treatments, counseling, and the effects of RAD on their own. Let a therapeutic boarding school help you and your child regain a loving relationship. Do not attempt to cope with RAD alone.