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    Reactive Attachment Disorder

    How Is Reactive Attachment Disorder Treated?

    Treatment of RAD has two important goals. The first is to ensure that the child is in a safe environment. This is especially important in cases where the child has been abused or neglected. The second goal is to help the child develop a healthy relationship with an appropriate caregiver.

    Treatment for RAD often focuses on the caregiver. Counseling may be used to address the issues that are affecting the caregiver's relationship with and behavior toward the child. Teaching parenting skills also can help improve the relationship with the child and help develop attachment. Treatment may also include play therapy. This technique allows the child and the caregiver to express their thoughts, fears, and needs in the safe context of play.

    There is no medication to treat RAD itself. However, the doctor may sometimes use a medication as an adjunct to treatment to help manage severe behavioral symptoms, such as explosive anger or problems sleeping.

    The use of so-called holding therapies and/or "rebirthing" techniques is controversial. There is no scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of such interventions.

    What Is the Outlook for Children With RAD?

    If not treated, RAD can have a negative impact on a child's physical, emotional, behavioral, social, and moral development. Children with RAD generally are at higher risk for:

    • Depression

    • Aggressive and/or disruptive behavior

    • Learning difficulties and behavior problems in school

    • Inability to form meaningful relationships

    • Low self-esteem

    With treatment, it is possible for children with RAD to learn to trust others, and to lead healthy and productive lives.

    Can Reactive Attachment Disorder Be Prevented?

    Recognizing a problem with attachment and providing interventions as soon as possible are essential to preventing RAD.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on May 23, 2014
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