An eight year old girl was referred for counseling by her father who has sole custody of his daughter
since the age of 5. Her mother had addiction problems and was an inconsistent parent figure in her
daughter’s life. Her father did see her throughout her life but during many months had no contact with her due to what was going on with her mother.
The presenting issue was being parentified (there is a younger brother of any father), which my new 8 year old client took care of. He is now with an aunt. Anyway, my client also had difficulty making and keeping friends because she was very controlling of them. She also had very intense tantrums.
With this disruption in her attachment development, I decided to do Core Attachment Therapy with
father and daughter. He is a very emotional available parent, so this was a very natural course of action and gave them back those lost months and years. I encouraged the father and his new wife to come to the Nurtured Heart Approach training (Component 1), but they were not able to make it on the dates it was offered. I decided to proceed forward with the attachment games anyway (Component 2). I do not often do this when there is intense behaviors at home, but decided to do so since there was a history of he parent/child relationship.
This was the right call to make because as the 8 weeks progressed, the girl’s behavior calmed down. Her happiness was becoming more and more evident. As she calmed down, she became less controlling of . She no longer needed to control others because with secure attachment, she no longer had to worry that she was going to be left alone. As a result, people have been gravitating to her and for the first time in her school life, the teacher reported to the father that she now has friends. The father extended this special time with his daughter by going out for dinner, just the two of them after our sessions.
This illustrated to me the power of the attachment games without Component 1. Will I do this each and every time? No, because Component 1 is such an integral part of the process. Each family has its unique set of circumstances that bring them in for counseling. This is evidence that Core Attachment Therapy has a flexibility to meet the attachment needs of children no matter how their attachment development got interrupted.