Not all Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) therapy is intensive & controversial

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
Maybe I've seen this one too many times; maybe I'm on my last nerve but I just cannot bear seeing that all attachment based therapy is controversial.

Holding & rebirthing therapies have been outlawed in many states - Colorado being one of the major exceptions because of the BIG attachment center there run by an "expert" in the field.

Attachment disorder is a highly misunderstood disorder; therapy should always be based on the individual child - the history & the extent of neglect/abuse behind the diagnosis.

Our attachment therapy is gentle, guiding & parent/child based while encouraging nurturing in a safe environment. It's a slow process; the reality is that any attachment with a child diagnosis'd Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) will be tenuous at best.

I needed to get that does a parent of a child with a valid diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) a disservice to make blanket statements on all attachment therapies.

Thanks for listening.


New Member
I've had a combo of some of the controversial and a lot of the nurturing. I had one therapist suggest rebirthing. I absolutely refused to even consider it and quickly found another therapist. The holding therapy I do not consider all that controversial and it did help a bit. However, I had an adoption therapist who modified it so that it was not forced on the child. Rather, it was done at the request of the child. Ditto letting my daughter regress when she so desired. That is, there were times she wanted to play at being an infant with me her mommy. It was never forced and only happened when she requested it.

So, I agree with you that attachment therapy is not necessarily controversial but it sure as heck is intensive and expensive.

The sad thing to me is how unsuccessful treatments for Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) seem to be. While I can honestly say there is some mild attachment by my daughter, it is nowhere near what logic tells me it should be given all of the therapy, treatment plans, love, etc. she has been given.


Well-Known Member
We had a foster child who we had to hold. He hated it. I wouldn't call it abusive, but he almost beat me In the end, (most of you know the story--won't go into it now) this child went to another family after we adopted him. He is doing great and has no diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). I think many attachment experts see a kid who acts out and was in foster care and jump on Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). This kid, in his new home, is doing great and, according to his adoptive mom, is very attached to his family. I believe it. I never thought he had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) symptoms. He HAD been sexually abused and didn't like being touched without his permission.
I don't know what's controversial and what isn't. I believe the DSM says everything else should be ruled out before a diagnosis. of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) should be made. I think that's a good idea. Then you do your homework to see what you want and don't want for your child. I certainly KNOW Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) exists. We had a kid with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)--it wasn't pretty. In his case, he was so severe I don't think anything could have helped him. He was way too far gone. But he'd been in five foster homes. Anyways, just my thoughts.

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
The holding therapies can be/are traumatizing to these children as many have never been held due to neglect or have been physically &/or sexually abused. Can you imagine forcing intimacy? Can you imagine breaking a child's spirit & then not building with the good & positives they need?

Again, many states have banned these types of therapies due to a several deaths by over zealous tdocs or parents who weren't trained correctly. AND given the nature of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), the anger it brings into a home this type of therapy can put a child at risk.

meowbunny, I agree with you. Given the amount of time & the length of therapy there is little success. The prognosis for a full blown case of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is dismal.

I fear too much has been "hardwired" in our children by the time an attachment disorder can be addressed.

MWMom, I think that attachment disorder is not as commonly diagnosis'd as you believe - however, it's at a higher percentage in the foster care community, which isn't surprising. These children are in foster care because of bio parents who couldn't/wouldn't parent these children safely or were neglectful.

I appreciate the calm discussion on this topic. As I said - attachment disorder is so highly misunderstood. It's a diagnosis I've seen some doctor's hesitate to give because of the poor prognosis.

Our psychiatrist's comment, when every other test, evaluation & medication had been trialed was "dam#, now we have to look at Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)". Not a promising start to a challenging disorder.


New Member
TL, sorry, I had to laugh at "dam#, now we have to look at Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)." The reaction here was pretty much the same. I requested a meeting with her therapist, psychiatrist, social worker and neuropsychologist. I asked what, exactly, were we looking at. There was hemming, hawing and finally I was told that everything but ODD, CD and Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) had been pretty much eliminated and they were trying to find some other diagnosis -- ANY OTHER DIAGNOSIS!!!!

There was a lot of hemming and hawing as I asked questions about treatment plans, prognosis, etc. The first suggestion was to have her put back into foster care. This was a suggestion I heard over and over as she grew up. This wasn't an option to me. This was my child and I would do what I could to save her. As I said above, there has been some success. Not much, but some. At least she has some empathy, some conscience, loves her pets, actually will cuddle without it being a manipulation. Who knows, she may yet grow up and be a productive adult.

As to the holding therapy, as I said, it was done here only with her permission. If she said she did not want to be held and stroked, it was not done. Fortunately, she loves being stroked and she always made it a deal -- you hold me with one arm, you pet and scratch me with the other. by the way, I was the one who refused to force her to be held. It just didn't make sense to me to force her to do something she might feel was further abuse. The rebirthing just sounded too traumatic to me and it didn't help that there had been an episode on Law & Order about a child who died while it was done.

As for over-diagnosing it, I don't think so, at least not here. Even kids in foster care get this diagnosis as a last result and even then with a lot of reluctance. They really do try to rule out everything else before saying Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). My feeling is that they feel it is just too hopeless. I have seen our county recommend over and over that a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) child be returned to the system because of the behavior and prognosis.


Active Member
Not to be ignorant, but what is the difference in a child/person having Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and abandonment issues. My son was always very bonded to me, but his father has come and gone from his life since he was born. He would be a part of his life for 3 months, being the "best" father possible - and then just completely vanish. This roller coaster has left my son with so many scars and issues, that sometimes I wonder if he has Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), but I think Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a more serious issue, right? Is it possible to develop it because of only one parent's neglect, when the other is stable and loving? Or develop it because there is not anyone else that a child/person is bonded with other than the mom?


Well-Known Member
Many children have attachemnt issues but do not go on to develop Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).