Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a very rare, yet very serious mental illness. Children and adolescents most commonly experience the onset of this disorder when they do not have the opportunity to establish healthy bonds with parents or other types of caregivers. However, it is believed by some professionals in the field that it is possible that children may develop symptoms of RAD as a result of experiencing severe trauma. Regardless of the reason why the onset occurs, the disorder itself can be extremely debilitating for the children suffering from it.
Because reactive attachment disorder typically exists as the result of children not being able to control their attachments to or connections with other people, it is understandable that they may seek out other relationships or connections where they can have control. Unfortunately, some children and adolescents find this sense of control by acting out in a sexual manner. Even more devastatingly, these children may be putting others at risk as a result of their behaviors.
At Piney Ridge Treatment Center, we offer exemplary programming options that have been designed to meet the needs of children and adolescents who are suffering from a wide array of mental, emotional, and behavioral concerns. For children who are struggling with the symptoms of reactive attachment disorder, in addition to another mental health condition, as well as those whose symptoms may be further complicated by the presence of problematic sexual behaviors, we provide treatment options that are designed to help young people overcome their challenges and develop the skills needed to achieve a successful future, free from their troubling symptoms. At Piney Ridge, we have been providing successful, thorough, and comprehensive care for boys and girls ages 7-17 since 1996, and we want to work with your child to give him or her the help that he or she needs and deserves.
Helping a Loved One or Family Member Get Treatment
Reactive attachment disorder is arguably one of the most difficult disorders to live with. Watching your child struggling with the symptoms of RAD can be confusing and heart-breaking. You are probably questioning what you can do to help your child get to a place where he or she can overcome the debilitating symptoms of this disorder, but are unsure as to what steps are appropriate to take. Maybe you are questioning whether the behaviors that your child is displaying are, in fact, evidence of the presence of reactive attachment disorder. The following are some examples of various symptoms that children and adolescents suffering from RAD may exhibit:
- Participating in self-soothing behaviors (such as rocking back and forth or stroking his or her arms)
- Refusing to interact with peers
- Turning or moving away when someone tries to show him or her affection
- Unable or unwilling to make eye contact
- Delayed responsiveness to stimuli
- Lacking the ability to trust others / always feeling unsafe
- Low self-esteem
- Chronic feelings of sadness and anxiety
- Lacking the expression of positive emotions (e.g. rarely smiling)
If you have noticed any of these warning signs in your child, along with the addition of sexually maladaptive behaviors, a residential treatment program could possibly be the most beneficial resource for getting your child the help that he or she needs. While the effects of these illnesses can be devastating, with proper treatment, the children and adolescents suffering from them can learn how to successfully manage their symptoms and develop appropriate behaviors and boundaries while learning how to create and maintain positive, healthy interpersonal relationships.
Why Seek Residential Treatment at Piney Ridge
If you have been dealing with the emotional turmoil of taking care of a child who is fighting against you due to the nature of reactive attachment disorder, as well as who is struggling with the symptoms of a co-occurring condition, you might not only feel a sense of rejection and failure, but you may also be feeling increasingly concerned about what your child’s future holds. Your feelings are understandable. If left untreated, the effects of RAD when coupled with a co-occurring disorder and problematic sexual behaviors can have critical effects on your child’s ability to thrive.
Residential treatment programs have proven to be successful in helping children and adolescents overcome the devastating and destructive path that their sexual behavior problems and mental illnesses are leading them down. When children enter treatment in a residential setting, they are instantly entering a safe environment where they will be monitored with compassionate care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Within this safe environment, they are able to step away from the routines of their everyday lives, removing themselves from potentially stressful triggers, while gaining the ability to focus solely on their treatment and on healing.
Program Philosophy and Benefits
At Piney Ridge Treatment Center, our staff strongly believes that every child and family who comes to us for help is truly unique and deserves to have a treatment plan personalized to meet that unique set of needs.
At Piney Ridge, we recognize that every person has the right to privacy regarding their sexual thoughts and behaviors, yet we know that it is crucial that the maladaptive thoughts and behaviors are addressed. As a result, we ensure that these intimate things are discussed in a therapeutic manner with the sole intention of helping our patients reshape their future behaviors. We also understand the sensitivity that surrounds the symptoms of reactive attachment disorder and any co-occurring conditions and work hard to ensure that those aspects of treatment are administered in a way that provides the compassion that these types of illnesses require in order for children to heal. Our program is designed to provide patients with the ability to understand how to accept responsibility for their past behaviors in order to make the changes they need to in order to find true well-being.
Types of Treatment Offered at Piney Ridge
At Piney Ridge, our treatment program was developed using an evidence-based model of care, with trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy at its core. We combine various therapeutic techniques as a means of providing the most holistic treatment possible as we help our patients begin the path of healing. These treatment methods include:
Medication management: One aspect of treating the symptoms of reactive attachment disorder and the presence of any co-occurring disorder may come in the form of psychotropic medication. We have three psychiatrists and one internist on staff that will meet with your child at least once every 28 days. Additional appointments will be scheduled based on each child’s individual needs and all effects of the medication will be closely monitored so that appropriate changes can be made if necessary.
Individual therapy: Individual therapy sessions are a time for your child to meet on a one-to-one basis with his or her therapist. Children and adolescents benefit from this individual time because it provides them with an opportunity to develop personal problem-solving and coping skills. It is also a time in which their therapist can help them learn appropriate ways to behave, learn to cope with their anxiety, identify traumatic events that are causing them pain, and learn how to better control their impulses. Individual therapy sessions take place at least once a week, but additional sessions will be added if needed or requested.
Group therapy: Group therapy sessions are a time for our patients to gather together in order to enhance positive social interactions and reinforce the coping skills that they are learning. Group sessions are held daily and cover topics such as empathy skills, anger management, family issues, and sexual safety. Goal groups are held every morning and rehab groups are held every evening.
Family therapy: The role of the family is extremely important for any treatment process to be successful, especially when dealing with the severity of RAD and any comorbid disorders. Family sessions are held on a weekly or biweekly basis based on the needs of each patient. These sessions are designed to help parents learn how to implement rules about sexual behavior, enhance community and social skills, and use strategies that will reduce behavioral problems. These sessions will also help parents understand why the symptoms of RAD are present in their child and what they can do to help ease the pain of those symptoms. In addition to the family therapy sessions, visitation is available on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays.
School: Every child and adolescent in our residential program attends school Monday through Friday, so you do not have to worry about your child falling behind academically as a result of treatment. All of our teachers have special education certifications and there is a maximum of 15 students present in each classroom. All patients have their own individualized education plans and the credits they earn while in treatment are transferable to their home public schools. Tutoring and college prep are available, and high school students have the ability to graduate while remaining in the program.
Experiential program: In an attempt to make our treatment program as holistic as possible, we offer a thorough experiential program. This program includes recreational therapy, expressive therapies, and spiritual therapy. Occupational therapists and speech therapists are also available to work with patients when necessary.
Continuing Care and Levels of Treatment
At Piney Ridge, the discharge process is a thorough one. We understand that in order for our patients to leave our program with the comfort and knowledge that they can return to their lives at home, continued care is often necessary. As a result, we make referrals appropriately based on each patient’s treatment plan. Case management is an ongoing process throughout our patients’ stays, so this allows us to work on the discharge process thoroughly and intensively prior to their last day of treatment so that nothing that happens comes as a surprise. For our teenage patients, we will help arrange transfers to college, to the military, or to independent living situations, based on their needs.
We do not want you, your child, or your family to continue suffering. At Piney Ridge Treatment Center, our multidisciplinary staff will do everything in their power to make sure that all of your needs are met and that your child leaves treatment with the confidence that he or she needs in order to successfully go on to live a happy and fulfilling life.