I live in the high mountains of Colorado 150 miles from the best therapists. For 10 years I drove that road every week over two 11,000 foot mountain passes. If there was a blizzard and the road was closed, I would put the chains on my van tires and be the first in line when it opened! Why!? Because I am a saint? Not hardly, it was totally selfish. It was because I would have a nightmare of a week with the new child I had without the treatment to release and resolve the inner pain that had built up since the last therapy session. My child would be in misery and take it out on me until they got that relief. Each new child placed in my care needed at least 6 months of intensive treatment to be stable enough to go to every other week and then monthly until they graduated. I have met children that have been in treatment for years and years and not improved! One son I have, that had killed his two-year-old sister before being placed with me, needed therapy twice a week for the first few months until he felt better and could regulate himself well enough to last a full week.
Can we help these children without a therapist?
Yes, we can make a difference, however most really need professional help to address the pain they carry from their past. Many suffer until they get relief. Finding a skilled provider is critical.
What kind of therapy works?
Matthew Bradley LMFT, a highly skill therapist shared with me:
- “Corrective Attachment Therapy” is what the treatment is called. This is the way to release and resolve past trauma. He successfully uses “Journey of the Heart” which is a Christian version of Internal Family Systems.
- The excitement he shared about a new treatment Mr Bradley is seeing positive success with, called “Brainspotting”, got me all excited about it! He says it is “EMDR on steroids”! It is more relational and attunement focused and also uses some of the amazing research Dr Porges has found to heal the brain with bilateral sound therapy.”
Deborah Hage MSW says: “They must experience the change”
James Dumesnil, LPCC said; “Techniques don’t work, relationships do.”
What have I personally seen work after 40 years of working with RAD?
- Absolutely the treatment Matthew Bradley described as well as:
- We have seen phenomenal changes in some of our children at our camps with SSP (Safe and Sound Protocol) developed by Stephen Porges MD.
- Another of the treatments working really well for our trauma-based children is ILS (Integrated Listening Systems) This is a sound therapy that activates and helps heal the temporal lobes that are highly impacted by alcohol and/or drugs before they are born. The calming program gives welcome relief for an hour a day for weeks while it is helping the brain heal. It is amazing for depression, focus problems and PTSD. New research has proven that Choline added to the diet (eggs!) before they are 4 years old has a huge impact on brain healing for our little ones effected by FASD.
- Equine, art therapy, and cranial sacral have all shown great benefits when used in conjunction with Corrective Attachment Therapy.
- Have your doctor test for the four main medical conditions we often see with our children; Pyrrole disorder, Copper or Heavy Metal Toxicity, or Methylation defects. Here is more detailed information from Amy Apigian, MD.
- Have your doctor do a thorough physical exam to check for brain lesions, gut problems (including leaky gut or chronic constipation) and hormone or neurotransmitter
- Last but by no means least is neurofeedback. When used by a professional who does a brain map first, we see good results. Anyone can buy the equipment and hang out a shingle. Be aware! Do not let anyone use “standard protocols” on your child! Each child’s brain is unique and without a scan (QEEG) to know what path to take they could make it worse. We don’t need worse! The best I have found are: neurotherapynw.com in Skokane WA, Sarah Jordan in Boise Idaho, and Dr. Ed Hamlin in North Carolina.
Along with having a skilled treatment professional on your team be sure to cover these bases:
- Sleep is essential for the brain to detoxify and recharge at night. Sleep problems or shortage equals big behavior problems, aggression and attention difficulty
- Nutrition is also crucial for the brain to be fueled. Garbage in- garbage out. If you want a mc bad day feed them cheap and easy. If you want a mc fabulous day feed them high protein low carbs and healthy fresh veggies!
- Have a parenting plan with structure and nurture in balance, where you can correct while you connect. See Brain Based Behavior
I have an 87 % success rate with children who had extreme violence. Many of them had killed before they were placed with me in our Therapeutic Treatment Home. Those 87% are now loving, caring adults who contribute to their communities. I am proud of every one of them. I do not have all the answers but I want to share with you the ones I have found before I retire.
The boy who killed his two-year-old sister is a loving father to five sons today. He is happily married to his amazing wife and has peace in his heart. That is what I want for your children to have in their future! Let’s work together to make it happen.
Be sure to read my blog, RAD; What Therapy Bombs
We can make a difference, Nancy Thomas