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Attachment disorder

Attachment disorder is a broad term that is used to describe a series of emotional and behavioural problems that can develop in young children who struggle to form expected bonds to primary caregivers, usually their parents.

Priory offers a range of evidence-based therapy and treatment for children who are showing signs of attachment disorder. Established therapeutic techniques, such as play therapy and family therapy, are used to treat children with attachment disorder.

The initial bond that we have with our parents from birth is our first experience of a safe and trusting environment, encouraging us to learn and develop under the guidance of people that we instinctively know that we can trust, even at an early age. However, for some children, this fundamental connection with caregivers doesn’t occur. There are a number of reasons why this may happen, although it is typical that abuse, neglect or separation from parents means that the close attachment doesn’t have the necessary circumstances to develop as normal.

When children do not develop an attachment with their caregivers, this can lead to attachment difficulties.

Treatment for attachment disorder at Priory

The purpose of attachment disorder treatment and therapy at Priory is to address and nurture the emotions that are needed for appropriate attachment. This is achieved by essentially ‘re-wiring’ the brain, and replacing negative thought processes which may be blocking the path to healthy attachment, with more positive and healthier alternatives.

It is important to obtain professional psychological support for attachment disorder as early as possible, because the longer this condition is left untreated, the greater likelihood that further behavioural problems will appear. That being said, it is never too late to seek treatment, as people can still respond to the right treatment at any stage of their life.

This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg (MBBS, MMedSci, MRCPsych) in August 2018.

Treatment for children with attachment disorder
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What is attachment disorder?
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What are the signs and symptoms of attachment disorder?
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What causes attachment disorder?
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