Does Therapy Work with Your RAD Child?

Most parents with a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) child know that they are not very cooperative with therapy. It seems the kids can read the therapist and have amazing talents at manipulating him or her.

Talk therapy is almost useless for RAD children when dealing with an older therapist.  These kids do not trust adults, especially ones who are trying to probe information from them about their previous experiences.

Ann and Kara Lamphere

My daughter was extremely capable of taking our therapist down the proverbial rabbit hole.  In a year and a half, the therapist had no clue how to reach her. I was the only one benefiting from the therapy.

It’s only since I’ve been working with families of RAD children that I’ve come to realize that conventional therapy is rather useless for children with RAD.  Children, like my daughter, from other countries who have had horrible trauma before coming to the United States do not want to talk about it to anyone.

Children, whose primary language is not English have no way to tell their new parents what they experienced in the original country when they first arrive here. The new parents have no way of knowing the child’s history except for what they’re told by orphanage personnel or foster parents.

Therapists are taught that getting the children to talk is the best therapy. It’s not! My daughter wouldn’t talk and she’d been speaking English for about three years by the time she started therapy. She wasn’t about to tell what had happened in her life to anyone, me included.

I’m sorry for being a little cynical about the professional treatment options that I found on the internet. I’m listing them here. I’d like to hear some of your experiences with these treatment options from the Mayo Clinic:

  1. Children with reactive attachment disorder are believed to have the capacity to form attachments, but this ability has been hindered by their experiences.

2. Most children are naturally resilient. And even those who’ve been neglected, lived in a children’s home or other institution, or had multiple caregivers can develop healthy relationships. Early intervention appears to improve outcomes.

3. There’s no standard treatment for reactive attachment disorder, but it should involve both the child and parents or primary caregivers. Goals of treatment are to help ensure that the child:

  • Has a safe and stable living situation
  • Develops positive interactions and strengthens the attachment with parents and caregivers

4. Treatment strategies include:

  • Encouraging the child’s development by being nurturing, responsive and caring
  • Providing consistent caregivers to encourage a stable attachment for the child
  • Providing a positive, stimulating and interactive environment for the child
  • Addressing the child’s medical, safety and housing needs, as appropriate

5. Other services that may benefit the child and the family include:

  • Individual and family psychological counseling
  • Education of parents and caregivers about the condition
  • Parenting skills classes

I would like to hear your stories on these recommended treatment options. 

Please leave a message here on the blog or email me at  Your responses will be used in the course I’m developing for professionals to inform them about RAD and the families it affects.

Thank you,

N. Ann Lamphere, MSW, CSW

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: