It works if you work it.

We tried everything. Play therapy, time “in,” behavior charts…nothing really worked. Our child’s behavior kept spiraling out of control. Then we moved, and her behavior exploded into a fireball of crazy. I was calling crisis hotlines, begging friends for respite and crying on a daily basis.

Finally we landed on a therapist who assured us she had a strategy. It is pretty much the same strategy  she uses with most adopted kids suffering from loss and trauma–kids diagnosed with attachment disorders and their fried parents.

It all seemed so strange. We were going to therapy without the kids and being “trained,” in  therapeutic parenting. Which is the 12-STEP  for adopted children.

“Is that it?” we thought about our assignments. It seemed too simple. Not easy, but just simple.

Then on the first night–it worked.

Outlandish behaviors continued to recede and when we struggled, our therapist gave us some stories and anecdotes as models for a new week.

Many times there was rebellion.  So to avoid knocking down our therapists door a hundred times a week, we finally asked,”Is there a book or reference guide to follow?”

In her confident and joyful voice (a technique by the way) she let us know, “…anything by Deborah Gray.”


Now the Deborah Grey books were wonderful, but let us know that buyers who bought her books also bought, Facilitating Emotional Attachment. The Road to Emotional Recovery and  Behavioral Change in Foster and Adoptive Children. It has become a behavioral treatment encyclopedia for our family.

Our go to chapter is chapter 12, “Day to Day Parenting.”

In his book, author Daniel Hughes clearly explains why this therapeutic model works while giving much needed practical steps on what to do when. He elaborates on ideas given in Grey’s works  Though there is this caveat:

“The following represents ideas, some of which may be helpful in a given situation.Some responses may be effective one time and never again. When they are not effective, parents need to discard them, take a break  and try something else.”

If Grey and Hughes were out for coffee, they would very well agree on their strategies to assist traumatized children. The difference may be that, in book form, Hughes (at least this is true for our family)  lays out a daily blow by blow, taken from the real lives of clients. The Day to Day section is organized like a Yellow Pages of trying behaviors.

Still, we backslide. Usually, we look for a new technique, vitamin, or mantra. This time however,we have at least learned how to start over. “Keep coming back,it works if you work it.” is what we are chanting today.




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