Attachment Related Disorders

These disorders often result from a lack of a safe emotional attachment to a caregiver or parent. The individual may develop mechanisms in order to protect themselves, such as outbursts of anger, bullying, limited facial expressions, lack of affection, extreme clinginess, oppositional behaviors and limited fear of strangers. A poor parental attachment relationship has been shown to increase the likelihood of an adult becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol, requiring the professional treatment offered by Seasons in Malibu.


Researchers believe that a lack of love and consistent caretaking contributes to development of attachment related disorders. Inadequate caregiving can make a child feel abandoned, alone and uncared for, all of which can prevent that child from developing a healthy and secure emotional bond with his or her primary caretakers.

Young children form healthy relationships when their basic needs are consistently attended to, which builds a sense of trust between young children and their caretakers. Examples of inappropriate ongoing caretaking situations that place a child at greater risk of developing attachment disorders include:

  • A baby whose diaper is soiled and not changed for many hours.
  • A baby who is hungry and not fed for many hours.
  • A baby who is crying and not attended to and who is not comforted when they are in distress.
  • A baby who is not held, touched, talked to, or interacted with for many hours at a time.
  • An infant whose needs are met only some of the time due to inconsistent caregiving.
  • A young child who only gains the attention of caretakers by acting up or being disruptive.
  • A baby or young child who has had multiple primary caretakers, especially if the care provided is inconsistent and/or from unfamiliar people.
  • Any situation in which the child has been physically or emotionally neglected or abused by primary caretakers or other adults.

How to Treat

  • Psychotherapy/Counseling. A mental health provider works with the child and parents in a variety of ways, sometimes one-on-one with the child, sometimes solely with caretakers, and sometimes in combination, to build skills and reduce problematical patterns of behavior.
  • Family therapy. This treatment involves working together with the primary caretakers and child to develop ways to interact in healthy ways.
  • Social skills intervention. This therapy teaches the child how to interact more appropriately with other similar–aged children in typical social settings. Parents usually are also involved to help the child use the skills they learn.
  • Special education. If a child qualifies, these are school-based programs that help children learn skills to succeed both academically and socially.
  • Parenting skills classes. In these sessions parents may learn more effective ways of managing their child’s challenges. This can be particularly beneficial because managing discipline for children with RAD can be difficult.

If you or a loved one needs treatment for attachment related disorders, please call one of our caring, admissions counselors now for a free, no-obligation and confidential conversation about how The Beach Cottage at Seasons in Malibu can help.

Let’s Talk 424-235-2009

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