Trauma-Sensitive, Attachment-Focused Therapies
The most important component in helping a traumatized child to heal is a strong, therapeutic parent (primary caregiver). You can learn more about becoming a Therapeutic Parent on this website, as well as our ATN’s Learning Center. For ongoing support, education and encouragement in your Therapeutic Parenting journey, consider joining ATN.
The second most important component is trauma-sensitive, attachment-focused therapy. ATN actively encourages ALL families to work with therapists who specialize in attachment & trauma. While experts aren’t readily available in all areas throughout the US and the world, we urge you to seek out experienced professionals, even if it means traveling, working remotely, arranging for local therapists to be trained, or finding a professional willing to come to you.
How do I find an experienced attachment & trauma specialist?
Trauma-Sensitive, Attachment-Focused Therapies
The many pages in this section of the website details some of the most commonly used treatment modalities by attachment and trauma professionals. This field is rapidly evolving, and ATN strives to keep up-to-date. Many of these modalities and interventions are currently being researched and all are considered evidence-based or evidence-informed. Traits of trauma-sensitive, attachment-focused treatments include:
- Are grounded in attachment theory and recognize the importance of working toward healthy attachment and building resiliency.
- Address the child’s traumatic stress – including feelings of fear, shame, grief and loss.
- Are experiential (do not depend on talk therapy). Talk therapies and those dependent on behavior modification (reward/punishment systems) are not usually successful with our children.
- Enhance emotional regulation and teaches self-regulation skills.
- Involve the parent/caregiver in the therapy, providing parenting strategies and recognizing the critical importance of therapeutic parenting.
Explore these modalities in more detail:
- ARC – Attachment, Self-Regulation & Competence
- CPP- Child-Parent Psychotherapy
- DDP-Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy
- EMDR -Eye Movement, Desensitization and Reprocessing
- PCIT – Parent Child Interaction Therapy
- Real Life Heroes
- TBRI – Trust-Based Relational Interventions
- TF-CBT – Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- TRM/CRM – Trauma Resiliency Model/Community Resiliency Model
Neuro-Based Approaches. Research on early childhood trauma is indicating that interventions that address the underlying neurological impairments caused by early abuse and neglect can be VERY beneficial in conjunction with attachment & trauma therapy. The following approaches are currently being used to help traumatized children.
- Interpersonal Neurobiology – Dr. Dan Siegel
- NMT – Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics – Dr. Bruce Perry
- Neurodevelopmental Reorganization
- Sensory Integration
Questions to ask when considering treatment (coming soon)
ATN’s Official Policy on Treatment: ATN encourages all parents of traumatized children to seek professional therapy for their children that is trauma-sensitive and attachment-focused. Information on this website or support from other ATN members cannot replace professional therapy. We do not endorse specific therapists or treatment modalities. The information provided on this website should not be considered an endorsement. All parents should thoroughly research their options and ask for references.
More on Treatments
As a trauma and emotion-centered psychotherapist, I am relieved that children are now being screened for toxic stress. Thinking about mental health as a byproduct of a child’s environment is an important addition to current thinking on how to improve children’s wellbeing.
EMDR is a psychotherapy designed to alleviate distress associated with traumatic memories. This description is taken from the FAQ section of the EMDR Institute website.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.
There is NO medication specifically for RAD, attachment difficulties or trauma. However, ATN does not discourage the use of medications. Many families have found that medications help to treat symptoms and lessen anxiety, intrusive thoughts and behaviors in such a way that the child is better able to benefit from therapies and other interventions.
One of the fastest-evolving areas of promising interventions for traumatized/attachment-disordered children in the area of neuroscience approaches. These approaches are based on the premise of brain plasticity; that is, the research that shows the brain is able to continue growing,
Theraplay® assumes that the primary motivating force in human behavior is a drive toward relatedness to others not objects. Personality development is at its core interpersonal. The early interactions between parent and child are the crucible in which the self and personality develop. During treatment sessions objects are not used to resolve issues of childhood trauma,
Real Life Heroes provides practitioners with easy-to-use tools including a life storybook, manual, creative arts activities, and psycho education resources to engage children and caregivers in trauma-focused services. Tools and procedures were developed and tested with latency-age children in a wide range of child and family service programs including children with symptoms of Complex PTSD who lacked stable relationships with caregivers they could count on to provide a safe home and work with them in therapy and children referred for high risk behaviors that threatened the safety of children,
Developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross at the TCU Institute of Child Development, Trust-Based Relational Interventions® (TBRI®) is an emerging intervention model for a wide range of childhood behavioral problems.