Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Attachment disorder in children-Treatment, Play therapy, Family psychotherapy, Parent and child, Reactive attachment disorder, Non-directive child-centered play therapy, Filial therapy


The purpose of this study was to investigate, from a theoretical perspective, the best treatment approach for preschool-aged children with Reactive Attachment Disorder. The challenges and needs of these children can be extensive, and the search for effective treatment is ongoing. Two specific questions of focus were: How are the theories behind Non-Directive Play Therapy/Child-Centered Play Therapy and Filial Therapy useful in conceptualizing the experience of therapy for a child with attachment disorder? And, how could these treatments be used to benefit children with attachment disorders and their families? The research for this paper involved a literature review of peer-reviewed articles on Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and treatment, original sources describing Attachment Theory, Non-Directive Play Therapy and Filial Therapy, and the DSM-IV-TR and ICD-10. Both types of therapy were found to be helpful for children with RAD because they create a therapeutic relationship that encourages secure attachment, allow children to process trauma as needed, and provide conditions which help children build affect-regulation, improve self-concept and regain healthy development. Filial Therapy showed an additional benefit in training parents to provide ideal caregiving conditions. A comprehensive assessment and treatment program, utilizing aspects of both treatment types was suggested for children with Reactive Attachment Disorder and their families; it includes the potential for use in clinical settings, child welfare investigations and with foster and adoptive families.




i, 188 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 173-188)