This entry is part 13 of 32 in the series Still Standing

The first visit with the attachment therapist is intense.

Aaron had warned Mike and me that the first session would be tough. He told us to be prepared.

He said there are two critical turning points in his relationship with every child — the first session and the first time the kid is in crisis. Those two set the tone for the rest of the working relationship. Attachment Therapy: When a New Start is Scary|The Holy Mess

Attachment Therapy

Aaron is an attachment therapist who comes to our house. The sessions are mostly in our home, although he goes where our son goes, so sessions might be at the park, in the community, at Tae Kwon Do, or Aaron will also attend IEP meetings or other events. He is the center of the wheel that helps us manage our son’s life and behavior.

Aaron is a cool outdoorsy kind of guy. He has been working with the toughest teen boys for 17 years. He told us about a boy holding a butcher knife to his throat. Nothing our son does is going to scare him. He has totally no fear of these kids, and he says that over and over. That establishes his authority.

The first visit lasts about 2.5 hours.

Instead of working to develop a “friends” relationship or even find something in common, one of the first things Aaron tells our son is, “I’m your therapist, not your friend.”

Aaron tells us this actually helps kids like our son calm down. Kids with trauma issues feel anxious when adults try to be their friend, because then the child feels like they have to be in control. This escalates them.

Aaron tells us he will work with our son for each session and then also take him out to do some fun activity time or community based time. They might play basketball or ride bikes. He is really big on kids facing their fears, and he keeps them guessing.

Number one is getting our son’s aggression under control. Nothing else can be dealt with until then.

Aaron has us order his workbook, The Feelings Workbook, which is geared toward younger kids but will work for our son who is emotionally young, and a Time Timer to help him calm down his anxiety.

Aaron uses some of the Nancy Thomas methods we’ve been using summer, but he encourages us to not feel like we have to stick to the system. He says by the time parents get to where we are, we are exhausted so we cling to the systems as our last ditch effort. The system becomes the life-line.

The trouble is the kids see this and manipulate it because there will always be times we can’t do the system exactly.

He tells us several times, “I’m not Nancy Thomas,” and he uses an eclectic mixture of all the attachment theories and his own expertise from years of experience.

Aaron tells us the number one rule is, as the parents — YOU ARE THE BOSS. It’s okay to have the system, but give yourself flexibility within the system. When we make changes, say, “I am making this decision because I’m the mom,” if I choose to allow something different.

Mike and I both take a huge sigh of relief when he says this.

We learn about lying. Our son has been lying to us non-stop, and we call him on the carpet for it, telling him we know he is lying. Aaron taught us to change the wording to “fear.” If we focus too much on saying he’s lying all the time, that ingrains those negative patterns in his brain.

Instead, we point out to our son that he is lying because of fear, and we can teach him not to be afraid. So whenever he lies and controls, Aaron taught us to say, “I know you are really afraid right now because _____” or “I see you are showing fear right now because __________.”

Aaron will step in and break the cycle of our son’s rages. If our son continues to assault us, Aaron will walk us through the process of taking our son to court. Kids can be charged with assault and battery after age 10 in our state, and the time has come to draw the line in our home.

After the first session, I’m feel flutters of hope for the first time in a long while.

Still StandingStill Standing|The Holy Mess

Bible Verse

The Lord upholds all who are falling
    and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
    you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord preserves all who love him,
    but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Psalm 145:18

Attachment Therapy:When a New Start is Scary|The Holy MessJournal Prompt

Psalm 145:18 says “The Lord is near to all who call on him.” How does this verse bring you comfort for times when you are afraid to start something new?

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