Q&A: For Pros—Recommendations for Working with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) Adopted Teen?

Q: Do you have any suggestions on literature or websites to get information on treatment for adolescents with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)? I am working with a 13-year-old boy that was adopted at the age of eight along with his younger brother from an orphanage in Russia. He is now from California and lived with his brother and adoptive mother before coming to our center. There is no father involved in their lives. Thank you for your help.—Treatment Center Director and colleague

A: Sure thing... I'm sharing this Q&A from my colleague as these are resources that parents will find helpful as much as professionals will.


A few books:

  • Treating Attachment Disorders; From Theory to Therapy, by Karl Heinz Brisch
  • Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow, by Gregory C. Keck, Regina M. Kupecky
  • When Love is Not Enough: A Guide to Parenting Children with RAD - Reactive Attachment Disorder, by Nancy L. Thomas
  • All of these books are available here.

A few other considerations:

  • Hope mom's getting lots of parent training while he's getting treatment, as well as family therapy together. The worse thing you can do is treat "the problem child" without treating the entire family system the child lives in.

Staff & Parent Training:

There's simply no substitute for good training for both your staff and your client's parents. If you ever want to do a staff training and/or parent training on working with difficult teens, I do a workshop for professionals who work with teens and for parents. Here's the link and  description from my website:

  • "WORKING the System: Motivating and Strategizing with “Resistant” Teens to Achieve the Better Outcomes THEY Want" Systems, whether they be school, family or legal systems, can seem impossible for teens to successfully navigate. These systems can seem especially hard to figure out when they feel their only options are comply or rebel—neither option being what the teen really wants. Teaching them how to strategically “work the system” empowers them to actually achieve the better goals they want. And they do want to succeed. Many just don’t know how. The Working the System seminar teaches your people how to reach and teach the “unreachable” and “unteachable”.
  • "How to Talk to Teens about the Tough Stuff" This workshop is closely related to the "Working the System" above that is less clinical and more geared towards parents. It'd be fun to do a training with your people sometime if you like.
  • "Child Development & Attachment Disorder: What's "Normal" and What's Not" If you work with kids then knowing what's "normal" and not can make ALL the difference. I have given this training several times to The State of Utah's Guardian ad Litem's and CASA's Office.

Glad to hear of your work and your life.

Peace bro,