Contact Us

3601 SW 29th St. Ste. 108 | Topeka, KS 66614
(785) 608-3321
(785) 783-8348 FAX

Trauma / Attachment Treatment

We serve children who have suffered disruptions in significant attachment relationships. The disruption is often related to maltreatment in the form of abuse and neglect, but may also result from other causes (e.g. chronic pain in infancy, temporary separation from caregiver).

We are committed to providing effective treatments that aim to resolve the symptoms related to the child’s trauma. Strengthening attachment and relationships, developing improved living skills, and processing unresolved trauma and grief are the goals of our treatment.

Our treatment approach is based primarily on four models of treatment. Most of our therapists are trained in the following models:

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP)

Description: DDP is a family centered treatment approach to strengthen attachment and resolve trauma. At its core is the use of a safe setting where a child can begin to explore, resolve, and integrate a wide range of memories, emotions, current experiences that are frightening, shameful, avoided or denied. The therapist and parents/caregiver work to provide attunement to the child and maintain an attitude of PACE (playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy).

Links: (see therapy section for a great description)

Building the Bonds of Attachment: Awakening love in Deeply Troubled Children, Daniel A Hughes (2006).


Theraplay Activities

Description: Theraplay is an engaging type of therapy. It aims to replicate healthy parent-child attachment relationships and uses four dimensions to do so. Each session includes structure, engagement, nurture, and challenge activities. Theraplay helps the child to replace inappropriate coping behaviors with healthy, creative, age appropriate solutions by offering activities which aid in self-control and self-regulation. Theraplay also aims to increase the child’s self esteem by emphasizing the child’s strengths and positive attributes. Finally, Theraplay increases the positive interactions between the child and caregiver through emotionally attuned, interactive, physical play; thus enhancing the relationship.


Theraplay: Helping Parents and Children Build Better Relationships Through Attachment Based Play, 2nd Ed., Ann M. Jernberg & Phyllis B. Booth (1999).


Narrative Attachment Family Therapy

Description: Children develop beliefs about themselves and the world based on their early experiences with caregivers. Children with negative experiences form negative beliefs, such as “I’m bad”; “I don’t deserve love”, “I can’t be safe”. This belief system drives their feelings about them self and their behavior. Children who think they are bad act bad. This treatment approach attacks the mistaken beliefs (also called internal working model). Parents intuitively know their child’s deepest needs and emotions. With this approach, they create a story, with a protagonist or hero with whom the child can best identify. Through the process of telling the child the story that identifies the child’s key struggles, parent’s empathy provides a pathway of attunement to their child. This is a critical factor in strengthening attachment.


Parenting With Stories: Creating a Foundation of Attachment for Parenting Your Child, Melissa Nichols, Denise Lacher, & Joanne May (2002).
Connecting With Kids Through Stories: Using Narrative to Facilitate Attachment in Adopted Children, Denise Lacher, Todd Nichols & Joanne May (2005).



Description: Eye Movement, Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a powerful approach, highly effective at helping people to resolve trauma, anxiety, disturbing memories, fears, and other emotional problems. The work is based on “adaptive information processing” whereby, “stuck” traumatic or negative memories are linked up with positive, beliefs. This leads to resolution of the negative images and beliefs to the point where they are no longer troubling to the individual. This approach is used cautiously with severely traumatized children, as mental exposure to the troubling images that haunt a child is necessary, and can be very difficult for the child.


Small Wonders: Healing Childhood Trauma with EMDR, Joan Lovett, MD (1999).


Integrated Treatment Approach

We provide education to assist families in understanding why their child struggles. We agree with Ross Green, author of “The Explosive Child” that kids behave well when they can. If kids are not behaving well (and thus not feeling well internally), we work to understand why and provide necessary interventions. To aid in this process, we screen children for the common problems that children with attachment issues have, including: sensory processing, auditory and language processing, and challenges related to in utero substance exposure. When necessary, we refer to the other professionals who diagnose and treat these common co-existing conditions.

Our treatment approach is grounded in the latest research. The work of researchers and clinicians, such as Dr. Bruce Perry Dr. Alan Schore, and Dr. Daniel Siegel has shown the inter-relationship between brain functioning and attachment relationships. The therapy approaches we use is consistent with what these experts have determined to be effective in treating children with attachment problems.

Children are not worked with in isolation. Parents/guardians are a critical part of the process. The adults are involved in a number of ways. First, they are present for family therapy, including the four models described above. In addition, we work with caregivers without the child present to focus on developing a therapeutic parenting plan. Finally, individual and couple therapy may also be recommended to caregivers as a means to help strengthen the family unit.