Play Therapy and Core Attachment Therapy

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.


Please go to  HERE to listen to a podcast on Core Attachment Therapy and the Nurtured Heart Approach.  Some great information for parents, educators, and other therapists!  Please also feel free to provide feedback and comments after you’ve listened.   Look forward reading them!


CAT With Grandmother and Granddaughter

March 12,2015

Finished another round of Core Attachment Therapy with a grandmother and granddaughter. The girl’s bio mother is in prison for drug use and selling. At the time of arrest, the girl’s father stepped up to the plate and petitioned the court for custody of his daughter with whom he had little contact for the first 6 years. As it turned out, he was not a reliable, effective parent, so the girl was returned to her grandparents. At the beginning of therapy, she was resistant and very angry. As the week’s progressed, she slowly “allowed” the process. This giving permission so to speak, gave her the opportunity to experience being taken care of on a more intimate, core level. The final session was met with pure joy and happy girl energy-singing, dancing, giggling vs. frowns, demands and tantrums. Such a relief to all involved. She even shouts across the street each morning to her grandmother as she boards the bus “I love you”, which was not the case prior to our work.

Another success story and still counting!

Anxiety and Core Attachment Therapy

Over a year ago, I had begun Core Attachment Therapy© with a biological mother and daughter. The girl was 4 at the time and was almost paralyzed with anxiety. In taking the developmental history of the girl, the mother was in a domestic violence situation for the first year of the girl’s life. As one can imagine, the mother was in an anxious, traumatized state and of course the girl was too.
As we moved through the process of Core Attachment Therapy©, the girl’s anxiety eased week to week. She did have some difficulty transitioning to kindergarten but made it through in several weeks. After Christmas, the girl’s anxiety heightened again, but not as intense as it initially was. I scheduled appointments again with the girl and suggested to the mother to return to the mommy games of Core Attachment Therapy© and have the girl decide with games she wanted to play. Sure enough, movement forward with no anxiety was once again hers.

CAT Not Just For Adopted Children

Core Attachment Therapy is not just for children who have been adopted. I utilize this process to help any child whose attachment development had some form of disruption. Fertile ground for attachment development is the child having an emotionally available parent to ignite the attachment process. When a child has a parent who is depressed, the emotionally availability is stifled.
I am currently working with an 8 year old boy and his mother who has depressed for the first 4 years of his life. We began Core Attachment Therapy and are easily sailing through it with positive behavioural changes noted at home…..until the transition game from Phase 2 (separation phase) to Phase 3 (individuation phase). He did the transition game with lots of enjoyment, but the behaviors at home afterwards were quite alarming after the positive gains noted the prior weeks. I asked his mother what had been going on in their lives when he was approximately the ages of 20-24 months of age and this stuck a cord. They had moved cross county in hopes of a better life and the opposite had happened.  The mother’s depression deepened and the boy was in day care with little attention given to his emotional needs…he was even sleeping on the floor at night while his mother was working.  This scenario explained the emotional reaction and behavioral change he is now experiencing. Just goes to show that the body does hold the memory of trauma and how Core Attachment Therapy lovingly moves a family through the stuck places in their hearts.