Impact on Parents

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.



National Play Therapy Awareness Week

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.

What Is Play Therapy?

“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

Hurricane Harvey Project

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 for further details.

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.

New Book soon to be released

It is with great excitement to report that Your Love is Hope:Parent Companion of Core Attachment Therapy© has been sent to the publishers and should be available for purchase by the end of this week.

This book is written so that parents have a format to follow to incorporate the attachment games at home with room for journal entries to share with their child’s therapist each week. It can also serve as a “baby” book the adopted child did not have. The journal entries include what we call “greatness” stories from the first three years of being home along with greatness stories of each week.

An additional feature of this book is photographs of each of the mommy/daddy games followed by a description of how the games are played.



Attachment Work and Older Children

I have started Core Attachment Therapy© with a young adolescent and her mother. The attachment disruption for these two was several psychiatric hospitalizations of the mother during the girl’s first 4 years of life. The mother has been stable for many years and is in a healthy relationship now.This stability has allowed us to move forward with attachment work.

As one might expect, there was initial resistance on the girl’s behalf, not wanting to “time travel” (a phrase I use when describing Core Attachment Therapy© to older children) back to when she was little. Although she cooperated, her body language was loud that she just didn’t want to be here. As we continued, her body language got quieter and quieter and within minutes, she was all in with giggles and full participation. During the second session, no resistance at all. Just eager participation and hunger for hearing the great qualities she had shown that week.

This affirms to me that the brain is primed for healing. It just needs a way to get there. This experience also affirms to me that Core Attachment Therapy© strikes this cord towards healing the early psychic wound in a very gentle, respectful and caring way.



Not Just For Adopted Children

The initial intent for Core Attachment Therapy© was for adopted children to have a chance at a life of healthy attachment. The process is expanding to children who have had some type of disruption in their life during the attachment development (birth to 3 years of age).

I just completed Core Attachment Therapy© with an 11 year old girl and her bio mom. The disruption in this girls life occurred in late infancy when her mother returned to the use of drugs. The emotional impact on the child was anxiety (she also had health issues as an infant) and as she got older and became a big sister, she developed parentified behaviors.

At intake, I decided that Core Attachment Therapy© would be the way to address this girls anxious behaviors. The mother has since become clean and is providing a stable and loving home to her children. As the weeks progressed, the transformation startied very quickly. This girl’s anxiety lessened, her joy increased and the greatest moment was when she turned control of events over to her mother to just be a kid. The relationship between mother and daughter has been enriched. The mother now feels empowered because her daughter now comes to her for advice rather than holding on to her troubles. The mother also feels empowered because when she sees her daughter act in an anxious way, she now addresses it quickly by comforting her. The anxiety reduces and that contagious laugh of hers returns.

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!

Core Attachment And Teens

People have been curious of Core Attachment Therapy works for teenagers.  I have just completed this process with two families of teens – one a 15 year old boy adopted at the age of 10 and a 15 year old girl adopted at the age of 8. With the 15 year old boy, he reports feeling that he feels seen for the first time and that he has a voice now. Prior to our work together, he isolated himself in his room and his family felt that he was going to be unreachable. For the 15 year old girl, she felt she had to take care of everything because there was no one to trust. She also was an emotional eater due to feeling there was no one to turn to. With Core Attachment Therapy with her adoptive mother, she now lets her mother take care of things and more importantly, is now turning to her mother for comfort rather than turning to food.  These are just two case samples of how Core Attachment Therapy can have a profoundly positive effect even for adolescents.