By Kenzi Dirks, M.A., R.C.C. Twelve-year-old Willow sat on the corner of my office couch, handling some Play-Dough from my box of fidget toys. From the outside, no one would suspect that this intelligent and confident pre-teen was used by her biological father for sexual purposes. Having been adopted for almost two years, Willow’s parents felt like she was continuing to “bottle everything up”.  She just would not talk about how she was feeling. Furthermore, Willow’s parents were receiving school …

Recently, a foster family came to see me about their nine-year-old son. *Michael had been with this family for about 6 months and the parents were at a loss as to how to help him sleep at night.  Every night, there seemed to be a mixture of reasons, excuses and behaviours that seemed to escalate …

This blog post is for members only. Join our community and gain instant access to practical and evidence based trauma informed resources! To read this post please log in or become a member.

It is important to note that all attachment is relational and interactive –that a child will have a different attachment relationship with each of his or her main caregivers. Attachment isn’t something that is just about the child. It is always about a particular relationship. So any child might learn more than one attachment style, although this will be most influenced by the parent(s) or caregiver(s) who are the ones most available when the child is an infant and toddler. Theoretically, a child can be securely attached to one caregiver and avoidant in their attachment to another.

The loving approach of a caring and responsible adult can be highly stressful for a traumatized child and they may react in ways that are baffling to the adult – lashing out or pushing away in a dramatic way. For some adults this rejection is not just baffling but it is also hurtful.  It can be hard to remember that the child is stressed and that they’ve been so badly hurt that their trust needs to be built ever so slowly – not unlike approaching a wounded wild animal. When we talk about Strengthening Attachment we are referring to how we help the caregivers and parents to build a secure attachment within the child and to counteract the years of insecure or disorganizing attachment experiences.

By Chuck Geddes, Ph.D. Complex Care and Intervention (CCI) model In our clinical work we are often referred children or youth from our foster care system or from stressed adoptions who exhibit extremely challenging behaviour and who seem to have a bewildering array of difficulties.  The children often arrive with a long list of diagnoses and an equally long list of “what hasn’t worked”. It’s not uncommon to encounter committed caregivers who are at their wit’s end and are on …

By Dr. Chuck Geddes Why is this new focus so important? For those of us who work with troubled children and youth it is obvious that their lives have been filled with difficult relationships, traumatic events, and high levels of stress.  So why is this relatively new focus on complex trauma and trauma-informed practice so important? Don’t we already know enough to make a difference? – That a stable, caring adult relationship can make a huge difference. That safe places …