CYC-Net on Facebook CYC-Net on Twitter Search CYC-Net

Join Our Mailing List

Discussion Threads

Transcripts of Selected Group Discussions on CYC-Net

Since it's founding in 1997, the CYC-Net discussion group has been asked thousands of questions. These questions often generate many replies from people in all spheres of the Child and Youth Care profession and contain personal experiences, viewpoints, as well as recommended resources.

Below are some of the threads of discussions on varying Child and Youth Care related topics.

Questions and Responses have been reproduced verbatim.

ListenListen to this

Attachment disorder (2)

Hi I was just wondering if anyone has any suggestions on this issue, I am writing a paper on it would like some help from people who may of experienced this issue first hand in the work force ... thank you kindly for the information.



Working with foster children and youth, and assisting in teaching at university level attachment disorders, I may have some answers for you. Please contact me at if you are interested in talking!

Amanda Rose

Hi Caroline,
I attended a workshop about a year ago on the subject of Attachment Disorder. The keynote speaker was a woman by the name of Tanya Helton, who is associated with Forest Cottage Center Inc. They have a very comprehensive website with numerous resources and information.

Hope this helps

Michelle Buttery

Dear Caroline,
First off let me say, thank you for your question. I personally work relief at a program where I deal one on one with children between the ages of 5 and 12, and the majority of them have one form or another of attachment disorder. It is interesting to see how each and every one of the kids I deal with handle attachment, but for the most part I deal with insecure attachments. With my experience I have noticed that most will warm up to you quite quickly if you have a strong personality, but these kids have a way of almost, testing you. I think that when they are pushing you away, what it is they really want is to protect themselves from any further hurt. These kids have been treated so badly by people who are supposed to love them, and then they come to a place that they learn is safe, and start to attach to a worker, and then the worker quits, or moves on?? and then we wonder why they can't seem to build health relationships?? hum..

There have been many times where a youth will be close to you and then when they blow up, they attack you physically and verbally. I think that in their way, this is how they "test" you. How far can they go until you don't come back. This is way I think it is important to know that they are not doing it to hurt you, but in a way, to stop themselves from getting hurt. I know it sounds weird, but I see it first hand, and I can't help but build this theory. I think that the most important thing that we need to do for this specific age group, is nurture and teach them, they are so young, and need guidance, and want it. And they way we can do that is by setting limits and build relationships with them, and if we need to move on, then we need to set up closure with them, so they understand.

I don't know if this will help you with your paper, but it is a tough subject, I would recommend looking up some journal articles on attachment on the cyc-net.

Thank you.
Keeli Elaschuk.
Calgary, Alberta.

I just finished a paper on attachment disorder and I found a good site using the msn search engine. I typed in the words and came up with a few good articles to site. I also did some case studies. I myself am in first year. I found the book A Child's World by Papalia et al good for sources as well. I know that not much has been done but there is some stuff out there if you look. Google scholar might have some good resources too.

Isabel Jarvis


I know I'm not answering your question directly but I would like to throw in a cautionary note. The "attachment disorder" diagnosis assumes that the problem lies within the child. In my opinion the difficulty is relational and refers to the quality of the bond between parent and child. In this case the work is relational, not remedial. Just something for you to consider.

Relationally yours,
Gerry Fewster

Hi Caroline
You might want to decide if you mean attachment disorder (DSM IV, ICD10) or attachment insecurity and/or disorganization (perhaps summarized as attachment difficulty).

I have long standing interest in the second. I have worked in residential settings for over twenty years with children and young people with insecure and often disorganized patterns of attachment, and been involved in developing and promoting a therapeutic approach to group care. I hope it is not immodest of me to mention a practical book on this: A Practical Guide to Caring for Children and Teenagers with Attachment Difficulties (author: Chris Taylor from Jessica Kingsley).

Good luck in your research.

Hi Caroline
I'm never sure how helpful other people's notes are, but I'm sending a handout I have in pdf on Attachment and Conduct Disorders. Use as you will.
See it at:

Lorraine Fox

Hi Caroline,
I have used attachment theory to help children for many years, even during the time that it was very unpopular. Whilst it is very widely used to understand the needs of children, and that has obvious benefits, it is less influential in direct application. A couple of years ago I produced a paper for colleagues in the organisation I work for which tries to give examples of attachment theory in practice. I could send it to you if it would be useful.

David Pithers

The concern I have with many of the treatment protocols established and promoted within the "Attachment Disorder Community" is that they focus almost entirely on the child / youth and not on the real problem which is the RELATIONSHIP the child / youth has with other people in his / her life.
Most if not all of these children have had horrendous learning experiences in the area of finding, establishing and strengthening healthy relationships.The adults in their life need to be as much of the focus of treatment as the child / youth does.

Gregory Manning, PsyD
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

This is a very interesting topic because it can be experienced by all. Because attachment is the deep and enduring connection established between a child and caregiver and it has a profound influence on both individuals.

However, if that form of attachment is disrupted, it could lead to emotional and social problems, as well as causing biochemical consequences in the developing brain of the child. That is why it is the beneficial for workers and professionals in the field to be properly informed and equipped with some form of specialized training to facilitate secure attachment, and healthy attachment.

Some would say attachment disorder is along the lines of addiction. It is a form of validating risky behaviours by saying that they are helping other serious problems that one may be experiencing internally. It is used when one need is not met so a need that can be met will be used to its full extent, at a very high risk emotionally and psychologically. Many of the individuals with attachment disorders are very vulnerable and substitute their issues and connections with human relationships. One book you should really look into that is really very interesting is called Addiction as an Attachment Disorder by Phillip J. Flores. It may not be directed solely on attachment disorder but it ties in a lot of things that are really interesting and I found quite helpful when writing my paper for my practicum. I hope this helps a bit. Good luck.

Elyse Peacock
Mount Royal University

The treatment protocols that my agency follows specifically involve the Primary Caregiver as you are correct, it is just as much about helping the Caregiver understand how the "dance of reciprocity" isn't the same for kids with this diagnosis. Thus treatment needs to involve caregiver peer support groups as well as therapeutic intervention with child and caregiver/Youth worker.. Though I wouldn't use Theraplay as an intervention everytime I love to use the Marshcak Assessment in most cases. Theraplay group activities integrated in group settings with kids and cyw's can also be very powerful..

Theresa Fraser

Dear Everyone,
I agree with Gregory Manning and Elyse K Peacock that attachment is a two way process and that we should be considering the strength of the attachment relationship not just the child's capacity to attach which after all is substantially defined by the adults who look after the child. The most recent work of the attachment theorist and psychoanalyst Peter Fonagy has focussed on this. His findings suggest – not surprisingly – that people who in childhood experience disrupted or poor attachments relationships with
parenting figures are likely to struggle to make healthy attachments to their own children if they are not provided at some time in their lives with replenishment or indeed plenishment. The latter process in part defines our work. I have for practical reasons simplified the work of Fonagy and his contemporaries but I think my gist is in large part accurate. John Fallowfield has written an excellent introductory article about classic attachment theory, Attachment theory and social work with 'looked after' children and their families which can be googled. For Peter Fonagy's work on attachment relationships read Fonagy, P. (2001) Attachment Theory and Psychoanalysis. New York: Other Press.

For me the forming of healthy mutual relationships which enable the caring adult as well as the youngster to grow is the fundament of our work.

Best wishes,

Charles Sharpe

The International Child and Youth Care Network

Registered Public Benefit Organisation in the Republic of South Africa (PBO 930015296)
Incorporated as a Not-for-Profit in Canada: Corporation Number 1284643-8

P.O. Box 23199, Claremont 7735, Cape Town, South Africa | P.O. Box 21464, MacDonald Drive, St. John's, NL A1A 5G6, Canada

Board of Governors | Constitution | Funding | Site Content and Usage | Advertising | Privacy Policy | Contact us

iOS App Android App