Reactive Attachment Disorder

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Reactive Attachment Disorder 2017-03-21T21:16:23+00:00

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) Counseling & Therapy Services in Orlando, East Orlando, Lake Mary, Winter Park & Clermont Florida FL


Reactive Attachment Disorder is described as a person that has severe difficulty in forming loving, lasting intimate relationships. It is very difficult for them to trust anyone except themselves, especially when it comes to their needs and safety. Reactive Attachment is seen at an early age and typically occurs from frequent changes in caregivers such as foster care or an orphanage. Adopted children can also diagnosed with this as well.

So what are the signs?

The DSM-IV-TR defines it as:

Markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relatedness in most contexts, beginning before age 5 years, as evidenced by either (1) or (2):

  • Persistent failure to initiate or respond in a developmentally appropriate fashion to most social interactions
  • Defuse attachments as manifest by indiscriminate sociability with marked inability to exhibit appropriate selective attachments (e.g., excessive familiarity with relative strangers or lack of selectivity in choice of attachment figures)

Also, Pathogenic care as evidenced by at least one of the following:

  • Persistent disregard of the child’s basic emotional needs for comfort, stimulation, and affection
  • Persistent disregard of the child’s basic physical needs
  • Repeated changes of primary caregiver that prevent formation of stable attachments (e.g., frequent changes in foster care)


Total Life Counseling Center Experts in the News on this Topic! 


Four types of Reactive Attachment that are commonly seen in children are:

Ambivalent –

  • These children are angry, defiant, and often times violent with others and themselves.
  • They try to sabotage most positive things that happen to them.
  • They can be very manipulative and affectionate when they want something.
  • They tend to lack empathy and are unable to give and receive love.

Anxious –

  • Tend to be overly clingy, showing extreme separation anxiety when separated from their mothers.
  • Can be superficially compliant but will try to control conversation
  • Are often passive aggressive and test parents’ patience and control.
  • Usually recover faster than those in the other categories

Avoidance –

  • Tend to be very compliant but lack depth of emotional engagement
  • They do not feel safe around others
  • Feel that they can take care of all their own needs
  • Often oppositional in a passive aggressive way

Disorganized –

  • Highly disorganized behavior
  • Hide anger deep inside, they are easier to deal with, harder to treat.
  • May have atypical psychosis, bipolar disorder, and other neurological disorders.
  • Are excessively excitable (other RAD children are usually moody.)

Benefits of Counseling or Therapy For Caregivers

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) Therapy and Counseling Services in Central Florida, Southwest Orlando, East Orlando, Lake Mary, and Clermont Areas.

RAD is most often seen with children that have come from either an orphanage outside the country or from foster care into an adoptive family. Family therapy is vital to helping the child to “attach” to the family in a healthy productive way. Because these children come with emotional hurts and sometimes from abusive situations, trying to provide them with a loving home can be extremely stressful for the entire family. It can put a strain on the marriage and can sometime make the biological children feel alienated because so much time is spent helping them. Using Creative Arts Therapy and behavioral counseling can help achieve this goal.

Differences of opinion may even arise between parents, and each may begin to feel isolated and alone in their journey. Your counselor is trained in providing empathy and has resources to help you.  He can also provide you with support, encouragement, and a place to share your journey.

How long does counseling for RAD take?
Some parents enjoy regular weekly appointments in order to share the latest developments in their child’s progress. Others prefer less frequent visits, saving the most significant issues/changes for discussion. Still other prefer more frequent visits because they also need to work on their marriage and communication. Recommendation: set goals at the beginning of your counseling. Setting goals helps you track where you are in the process. As you achieve your goals, you will know when counseling may end.

Call (407) 248-0030