The Core Attachment Therapy© process has been revised and the books have been updated to reflect the change. With this new attachment game added to the end of Core Attachment Therapy’s mommy/daddy games, it now seals the deal, so to speak, in securing the attachment between child and parent/s. What has been witnessed thus far, has truly been heartwarming, inspiring and authentic. You can purchase the newly revised editions of Core Attachment Therapy: Secure Attachment for the Adopted Child (therapist book), or Your Love is Hope: Parent Companion of Core Attachment Therapy (for parents) and/or Letting Us Into Your Heart (young child version) all on Amazon.
I have had the great fortunate experiences during the past several weeks of the reminder of the powerful impact Core Attachment Therapy© has not only on the children who go through this process, but on the parents as well.
I saw a parent at a local store several weeks ago who had gone through the CAT process with her son many years ago. She came over to me because she wanted to let me know that they still sit side by side as the games had organized. She added they do this every night prior to bed and have their 1:1 talks. Their connection continues to grow and grow.
Another parent shared at another time that prior to the CAT process, she felt she had a strong connection with her son. After the process, when we talked about her sons connection, she added that for herself, the process was well worth it. Her connection, attunement and attachment feels much deeper and richer.
One grandparent shared that raising her granddaughter has been very trying and left her feeling inadequate. Going through the Core Attachment Therapy process has allowed her to feel more than adequate. She feels very confident in her role now as grandmother as she has come to realize that her love has been what has transformed her granddaughter when she learned how to channel this love in a deeper way.
Over the years, I have come to realize that has the children transform from having a secure attachment with their parent/grandparent, the parent/grandparent too, transforms. Going through the experience of healing their child’s attachment wound fosters an intimacy between the two that is inspiring and heartwarming.
Core Attachment Therapy©….it’s just not for children after all but for the parent/child dyad.
I have been using Core Attachment Therapy© for many years now. Every so often a gift of its power comes to me.
This gift came in the form of a 4 year old who is in the guardianship of her grandmother. Here in the state of New Hampshire, many grandparents are raising their grandchildren due to the opioid crisis. When we began, her initial response was avoidance. This is typical for children with developmental trauma. However within moments, she looked at her grandmother, took a deep breath and jump on her lap to be held. We started the attachment games. Within seconds, she grasped the emotional meaning behind what we are attempting to do.
As she took in the nutrition of the food she was being given, she would “tweet” each time she was ready for more. From there, this “baby bird” got stronger and would flap her wings. This continued by flying away with each morsel and returning. She then upped the emotional risk pretending to lose a feather at each flight, finding it, then heading it to her grandmother to be put on. From one feather it progressed to 2 feathers. It was as if she was telling her grandmother “I fully trust you with healing my heart.”
It was a fun week helping others understand the important work that we do. Also had a contest with the winner receiving a box set of the Core Attachment Therapy© publications.
To conclude this week, I thought I would share an article I wrote which is also posted on the website.
“A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every passerby leaves a mark” -Chinese Proverb
This mark is what gets played out in play therapy. If the marks on beautiful marks, marks that enhance the growth and development of a child, then play remains just play. However, if the marks on not beautiful and actually leave scars, then the play becomes therapy. A child’s play is his/her natural and symbolic language to show the world the scars that have been left behind. These scars effect the child’s growth, development and overall well being. If the marks are beautiful marks, then the child’s toy of a kitchen set becomes a place of nurturance. If the marks are scars, then this same toy becomes the symbolic place where dishes get thrown, food is withheld and heads get placed in the oven. If these marks are beautiful, then the child’s toy of a baby doll gets taken care of, goes off on visits and experiences others adventures. If these marks are scars, then this toy gets tossed across the room, has food shoved in its face and gets yelled at. If these marks are beautiful marks, then the child’s toy of guns gets used to protect stuffed animals from monsters. If the marks are scars, then this toy is used to defeat all that is good.
So, play therapy is not about play. Rather it is about using a language that the child is most comfortable using and putting this language to work. This work turns these scars into beautiful marks. The transformation of scars is the process of play therapy. It all begins with the therapeutic relationship between the child and therapist. Before any of the work can be done, the therapist has to convey to the child that s/he is held in high regard. This relationship then becomes the foundation for turning the scars into beautiful marks.
As the child begins to experience emotional nurturance, s/he then feels safe enough to release the issues that never felt safe anywhere. This is where the work of play therapy begins. This work is very intense where the child is engaged in thematic play from the moment s/he walks in the office until the time s/he leaves. As the child exposes the scars, s/he takes the emotional risk of allowing it to heal. When taking this risk, the child, in this therapeutic relationship, will then open him/herself up to be taken care of. As the child experiences being nurtured, the walls come down, more scars get revealed and more healing occurs. This process can take anywhere from several sessions to several years, all depending are how deep the scars run and on how quickly the child views the therapist as a partner in this work of play. Eventually play becomes play and the kitchen set is for cooking for one another, the baby doll goes out for walks to the park and the guns are used for protection, if used at all. So the child’s natural language of play, used as therapy, allows the child to turn the scars into his/her tapestry of life.
Dorothy Derapelian, M.Ed., LCMHC 12/31/03
The important task for the Phase 1 games in Core Attachment Therapy© is to help the child learn a new way of being with parents who are emotionally available. Children who have had attachment disruption have this message downloaded in their CNS that parents are not emotionally available. When they have this faulty wiring, so to speak, they except all adults to behave the same way. Creating this new muscle memory of turning towards, rather than away from parents is the building block in establishing secure attachment.
With one particular child, the Phase 1 games were difficult but the other phases in Core Attachment Therapy went like a breeze. This demonstrated that her attachment trauma happened in early infancy. As the weeks progressed and her new mommy demonstrated over and over her attunement to her, she took the plunge in a moment to trust. It occurred incidentally when she heard a police car go by the office. She had deer in the head lights look to her, inquired about the siren, then slowly curled up in her mother’s lap and nestled her head into her mother’s neck and shoulder. When it came to really needing to be comforted, she took the chance to trust and it has been smooth sailing for this mother/daughter since.
While watching a Sunday news program during Hurricane Harvey, there was a story regarding the evacuation of the NICU at Baptist Hospital in Beaumont TX. These most vulnerable babies were without their parents for a reported 10 days. This moved me very much knowing that secure attachment development begins at birth.
Since Core Attachment Therapy© is for securing attachments of children with their parents, I felt pulled to help in any way that I can. The occurrence of this devastating storm correlated with the release of my children’s book, Letting Us Into Your Heart. I decided then that I would offer all three Core Attachment Therapy© publications as a box set with 50 per cent of the proceeds going to Baptist Hospital’s NICU. In communications with the NICU, they are thrilled to utilize these donations to help families stay with their newborns via gas cards, hotel vouchers, car seats, etc.
It is with great pride to be of service to these families. The reason why Baptist Hospital was chosen over other hospitals for this project who faced similar evacuations is I, as creator of Core Attachment Therapy© once resided in SE TX. This project keeps my “attachments” secure.
If you are interested in this wonderful cause, please visit http://www.coreattachmenttherapy.com for further details.
Part of the therapeutic process of Core Attachment Therapy© is non-directive play therapy. This follows the mommy/daddy games in the therapy session. The purpose of creating this format is for children to have a way of processing the feelings and emotions which may be generated from the attachment games.
A very clear example of the therapeutic value of following this format for children occurred between a 6 year old and his mother. There was interruption in his attachment development due to his parents use of substances. Both parents were out of the picture for a while. His mother worked hard to get clean and to get her son back.
After interviewing the mother and getting a developmental history of the boy, it was determined that Core Attachment Therapy© would help the boy feel more secure in the world.
As suspected, there were some rough spots during the attachment games. Each corresponded to times in his life where he experienced disruption. What was amazing to witness was the therapeutic play he had created after each of the mommy games.
Phase 1 of attachment development is feeling safe and secure while being cared for. His play evolved around being a wolf in a cave and his mother coming and going bringing things in that they needed.
Phase 2 of attachment development is the understanding that the child is a separate individual from the parent. During this phase of the mommy games, he utilizes mommy/child stuffed animals. The mommy takes the child to and from school and protects the child from troll.
Phase 3 of attachment development is the development of an individuated self. What evolved in this boy’s play was first being doctor’s and taking turns listening to one another’s heart to later playing Hide N’ Seek.
Emotional changes noted in the boy was overall calmness, happiness and ease with being with others.