Today I’ll be giving you a quick rundown on two other treatments for reactive attachment disorder, plus one that as far as I know, is not officially used to help anyone suffering from this but in my opinion, should be. I use it myself and can attest that for me, it has been nothing short of amazing.
As we delve into the last post covering treatments for Reactive Attachment Disorder, I’ll tell you about a couple of other therapies.
So far, we’ve discussed a variety of things that both therapists and parents of RAD kids have found works for them, like firm yet empathetic, structured parenting, which often includes things that seem counterintuitive to good parenting.
For example, “time-in’s” rather than “time-out’s;” laughing at tantrums and continuing on as if nothing happened, holding, etc. Also covered were parent groups and parental training, and various things that might be included with both inpatient and outpatient treatments.
Please note: The posts dealing with some of the various treatments for RAD are for informational purposes only, and I make no recommendations or endorsements of these treatments. As always, if you suspect you or a loved one may be suffering from this disorder, please don’t wait, and contact a qualified, professional therapist with experience in this area.
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing – a mouthful that truly deserves an acronym! EMDR was originated and developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro.
In 1987 Dr. Shapiro discovered that certain eye movements that took place at the same time as distressing thoughts seemed to have a desensitization effect upon those thoughts. She began experimenting with this and conducted studies which showed that the subjects involved did indeed experience relief.
In1989 she reported her success in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, and since then, in addition to her own work, many other researchers and therapists have contributed to the evolution of EMDR, which now includes elements of many different treatments and has standardized protocols.
Many controlled studies have been done, and according to emdr.com, some of the results have shown:
- PTSD for 84-90% of single-trauma victims vanished after three 90-minute sessions
- A study funded by Kaiser Permanente showed 100% of single-trauma victims and 77% of multi-trauma victims were no longer diagnosed with PTSD, after six 50-minute sessions
- In one study, 77% of the combat vets were freed from PTSD after 12 sessions
Although most of the research has been done on those with PTSD, many clinicians have reported that in their practices EMDR has also been helpful for:
- Panic attacks
- Personality disorder
- Sexual abuse
- Dissociative disorders, and others
Researchers say that EMDR seems to affect how the brain processes incoming information, in a way that is similar to what is happening in our brains during REM sleep.
They claim that after successful sessions of EMDR, the patients no longer relive the sights, sounds, smells, and experiences of the past traumatic event as if they were back in that moment. They still remember the event, but it becomes less and less upsetting to them.
Neurotherapy is also known as Neurofeedback (NFB) and EEG Biofeedback. If you’ve ever had a full-on hospital sleep study done, as I have thanks to sleep apnea, then you probably had an electroencephalogram (EEG) done while you slept.
For those of you who suspect I’ve taken leave of my senses, have invented my own bizarre language, or both, bear with me here. Having an EEG done is no big deal – except for the hot mess it makes of your hair (it took four rounds of “lather, rinse, repeat” to get the goo out).
They stuck electrodes all over my scalp and various parts of my body, hooked it all up to a machine next to my bed, tucked me in and somehow expected me to sleep. The electrodes picked up my brain activity and sent the info on to the computer.
But with NFB the patient is not only very much awake, but is an active participant, as the information is then used to train and rewire the brain, using movies and video games. For a much better description than I can give, check out this post by Matt Hellstrom at Parenting Allies.
Detox that Brain!
Just a FYI: I am not being compensated in any way by Dr. Leaf or her company. Writing about this particular program is a purely personal thing because I have used and continue to use it with great success.
This brings me to the final therapy, the one I use myself, although I didn’t start out using this technique as a way to heal from RAD. Young children would not be able to use this technique, although older children probably could.
It’s called the 21 Day Brain Detox and is the brainchild (pardon the pun) of the brilliant neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf. Back in my first post in this series, I alluded to being healed from RAD during a long, slow process – so by the time I discovered the 21 Day Brain Detox, the RAD monster was long gone, except for tiny bits and pieces that pop up from time to time.
In my last post, I’ll go into a bit more detail on my healing, and include a surprising twist at the end, so don’t miss it!
In the meantime, let’s talk detox! Exactly how does one detox one’s brain? Eating special foods? Doing a cleanse? While these are certainly healthy and helpful, this is not the type of cleanse I learned to do with Dr. Leaf’s program. This is one where you learn to detox specific thoughts. Whaaat? Well, as Dr. Leaf puts it, thoughts are real. They are not simply wispy, fleeting things with no true substance.
They are tangible things in our brains which show up on Golgi stains, looking for all the world like little trees. And the amazing thing is, we can grow these “trees” and we can destroy them. Which means we can grow beautiful, healthy trees or we can grow ugly, unhealthy, and downright nasty trees in our brains.
We have the power to choose which trees we grow and which ones we chop down, which is where the detox comes in, by consciously focusing in on one negative, unhealthy thought, or one bad habit (because our habits originate from thoughts).
During a 21-day process, Dr. Leaf teaches you how to methodically destroy the “toxic” thought, bit by ugly bit, while at the same time you are nurturing a new, healthy thought that literally grows larger and larger, until finally the toxic thought has been “detoxed” and replaced by the healthy thought.
Then you start destroying another toxic thought and nurturing a new, healthy thought for another 21 days, while at the same time you’re continuing to nurture and grow the new healthy thought “tree” from the previous 21 days.
More than Merely Trying to “Think Positive”
Sound a bit too simplistic? I thought so too, until I began looking at the research and proof. I confess to being something of a research nerd! But then I put it to the test, and the results were far beyond my wildest dreams.
But wait, you may be asking. If you were no longer suffering from RAD, what would you need something like that for? Well, you probably know people who go through life as a dark rain cloud, forever dwelling on the negative and believing the worst about everyone and everything. Sort of like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. These types are in dire need of detoxing their brains, right?
Right – and so are all of us!
We all have negative, unhealthy thoughts growing here and there like weeds in our brains. Even the most positive, ray-of-sunshine person you know has unhealthy thoughts – granted, far less than our Eeyore, but there are some all the same.
And these thoughts directly affect our physical health as well as our psychological health. I am living proof to those around me that this detox worked wonders for me. The first 21-day cycle I tackled was – well, my brain.
At the time I was treating my Lyme disease (National Institutes for Health has done some fascinating research on essential oils and Lyme), which among many other nasty things can cause severe brain fog, forgetfulness, and inability to concentrate.
As if that weren’t bad enough, I firmly believed I had a learning disability because in first grade I was dismayed to find that I didn’t pick up on math as easily as I did reading and writing. Then as any child would do, I began to believe what was said to me – that I was stupid when it came to math.
This ugly label followed me all through my school years, becoming so firmly entrenched in my mind that I believed I had been born with some defect in my brain.
The damage was so great that, even as an adult in college, try as I might, I couldn’t grasp the simplest algebraic concepts. Thankfully, years later I heard about Dr. Leaf’s work. I read every one of her blog posts and watched quite a few of her videos.
She explained things so clearly and showed the science behind how our brains were perfectly created by God to be brilliant, and that if our minds are a mess it’s due to us having made the mess with all our toxic thinking. But the good news was that it can be cleaned up — and I had that “Aha!” moment.
One of the things she stresses is that if we wired it in, we can also wire it out. I saw the truth in this, and began building a positive, healthy thought “tree” that included branches such as, “God gave me a perfectly good brain;” “The only thing wrong with my brain is the garbage I’ve put there, but I’m cleaning it up;” and “I will redesign the landscape of my brain,” among others.
At the same time, I pictured my brain chemicals being as pure water and fertilizer for my new, healthy “tree” while raining down as poison upon the gnarly, black, dead-looking (but very much alive) toxic tree, slowly dissolving it bit by bit. There’s more to the detox than that, but hopefully, this will give you a general idea.
From Math Dummy to Einstein…Well, Not Exactly
About two weeks into my detox I was reading books on quantum physics, thanks to Dr. Leaf’s brief and simple, yet to me, fascinating explanations of the workings of the brain and quantum physics. Don’t panic – one does not need to learn a thing about quantum physics to detox the brain!
That was just me – told you I’m a research nerd! There was something miraculous about going from a math-hating person who couldn’t understand the simplest algebra problem, to someone fascinated by quantum physics.
As the days went by, my mind became clearer and sharper. When the 21 days were over and it was time to begin detoxing another toxic thought, for the next 21 days my focus was on not being a victim of Lyme disease, and on regaining my health.
My health had already been improving significantly, thanks to the awesome essential oils I used, which were doing the work of potent antibiotics without the side effects; but now I began to improve at an even faster rate. Friends and family were noticing and commenting in amazement at the huge difference in me.
But What About Adults?
So far in this series, I’ve only talked about children who suffer from this nasty attachment disorder. But what of the adults? Of course, the RAD adult or child can get neurotherapy, EMDR, or experiential therapies such as art or equine therapy.
Some or all of these may be extremely helpful for the adult who sufferers, not to mention the experiential therapies would be fun. But if finances and/or medical insurance doesn’t provide, then what? Detoxing your brain is by far the least expensive.
But I would encourage you to take a close look at each of these therapies, even those of you who are not research nerds! Due diligence will save you money, time, and heartache in the long run, and as I’ve said before, what works well for one person may not work for another.
Rekindle Your Hope
It’s true, you really can dare to hope. And please remember, if you are someone with RAD, this is not your fault. If you have a child with RAD or know someone with it, it is not their fault. Stuff happens.
But although we couldn’t prevent whatever happened from happening, we can take control now. We can stop that horrible downward spiral, and start making our way back to the surface, and learn how to really live again…or maybe begin to really live for the first time.