How does Secure Child therapy help children?
Difficult behaviors in children can often be understood as deficits in the ability to get important needs met. Unmet needs can trigger big emotional upsets that seem to come out of nowhere and are not in line with events. Secure Child therapy helps children by helping caregivers to identify and address underlying needs. As children experience increased attunement with their caregivers, they are better able to regulate their emotions and behavioral outbursts are mitigated.
How does Secure Child therapy help parents?
Secure Child therapy helps parents make sense of such difficult behaviors in children as impulsivity, refusal to follow directions, running from caretakers, temper tantrums, and unpredictable outbursts. As parents become increasingly aware of the underlying processes of attachment, they begin to see their child's behavior in a new way. Parents tell us that with this insight, they being to feel increasingly confident that they know what their child needs, and how to respond.
Some of the benefits of Secure Child therapy include:
- Attaining a better understanding of children's needs, impulses, and behaviors
- Applying strategies to improve a child's ability to make good use of the caregiver relationship
- Finding resolution to issues or concerns that have plagued the family
- Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
- Improving observation and interpretive skills
- Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in the family or marriage
- Improving a child's self-esteem
- Boosting confidence in the caregiver's ability to meet the child's ongoing developmental needs
- Improving communication among family members.
What if the child doesn't have Reactive Attachment Disorder?
Children can have unhealthy and insecure patterns of attachment, and not be diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Trauma, depression in a parent, loss of important caregivers, abuse or neglect, and exposure to domestic violence, are some of the things that will affect a child's automatic relationship impulses and impair the ability to make good use of caretakers. Disruptive and difficult behaviors in children are often related to a limited ability to form and maintain meaningful relationships. These challenges often confound their caregivers and trigger painful separations, further exacerbating feelings of isolation or loss.
Why is the therapy with the caregivers? The child is the one with the problems.
Research indicates that children grow and heal best in the context of their relationships with caregivers. Our intervention focuses on caregivers because we have witnessed first-hand, the power of the investment they have in the children they are raising. The best way that we know to influence how things go for kids, is to honor and support the commitment their caregivers have made. Parenting is a difficult job, and circumstances can make the challenges greater. When parents start to feel overwhelmed or unsuccessful, therapy can help them resolve painful feelings and shift the relationship patterns in the direction of health. Relationship therapy provides long-lasting benefits to intimate relationships and gives parents the tools to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns and overcome challenges as they arise.
How do you know if Secure Child therapy is a good fit for a family?
The Secure Child intake process begins with a free pre-service assessment, which includes a detailed discussion about the child's history and presenting problems, the current placment and placement goals, and anything related to family functioning. This first step considers the reasons why this child may have problems with attachment relationships, and whether the in-home intervention is the best way to help the family with the presenting problems. An important step in the pre-service assessment is a meeting with the caregivers to describe the protocol, answer their questions, and help them make an informed decision about whether or not the Secure Child In-Home Program is a good fit for them. When appropriate, we ask parents' permission to talk with other service providers working with their family, to clarify our role and make sure that our service won't interfere with established therapeutic relationships.
What is the goal of the Secure Child intervention?
The goal of the intervention is to bring into awareness the automatic nature of relationship patterns, the underlying thoughts and feelings that can drive behaviors, and the importance of the caregiver relationship to healthy child development. Parents gain insight to difficult behaviors and begin to feel increasingly sure about what their child needs from them. Children start to feel understood, and increasingly connected to their caregivers—quieting their emotional upsets and improving their behavior.
Because all parent/child relationships are unique, this is not, “one-size fits all therapy.” The therapy is as distinct as the relationships, and each caregiver identifies goals for treatment specific to his or her experience of the child. Along the way, the Secure Child therapist will help parents to consider how other relationships may affect the family, issues with co-parenting that may occur, and the impact of siblings on each other.
What is the attachment assessment?
An essential part of the of the intervention, the assessment includes a videotape of the child with each parent, and interviews with caregivers. The videotape provides a way for us to help parents "see" their child's behaviors through the lens of attachment, and helps answer the question: "How does the child try to get his or her needs met by this parent?" Interviews provide a window into the parent's experience and help us to have a deeper understanding of the people we are serving.
What happens in sessions?
Parents learn about attachment processes, brain development and typical child development. They view the videotape of themelves with their child and begin to decode their child’s behavior by considering it in the context of attachment processes. While we have a great deal to teach, we know that parenting is not an intellectual exercise. Parents hearts are in the game and the child's experience is not the only thing that matters. Sessions provide a place for caregivers to celebrate, vent, process and reflect on all of the important relationships in their lives.
What is the appointment schedule for sessions?
We offer parents two sessions a week, that are an hour-and-a-half to two-hours long. This frequency of appointments supports the development of a safe and trusting relationship between parents and the therapist, and provides parents a way to regularly process experiences with their child. At the start of each case, we request a full-year of service, but most cases will close within 9 months.
What if parents can’t meet twice weekly?
Like treatment objectives, parents have a big say in the appointment schedule. When families cannot follow the ideal schedule, we work with them to determine what they can do, and whether or not it is enough to meet their treatment objectives.
How long is the intervention overall?
Each family is unique and the amount of time needed to achieve goals will vary. On average, our cases close within 9 months. The anticipated length of service is discussed each quarter and an anticipated closure date is articulated by the end of six months of service.
Does the Secure Child In-Home Program work with other service providers?
Many of the families we see are getting services from other providers. We work closely with other agencies to ensure that we are not interfering with their therapeutic process and that our work is not in conflict with services that are already in place. At the start of a case, the Secure Child therapist will talk with parents about the benefits and risks of multiple providers, and if they would like for information to be exchanged across agencies. We have had great success collaborating with other programs and are mindful of the challenges this can create for parents.