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|Tapping into Strengths - Page 2|
At the Child Guidance Resource Centers, the large mental health agency in suburban Philadelphia where I work, I was asked to do a family consultation with an outpatient therapist who was struggling with a loving, close-knit, middle-class family that was desperate to decide whether to place their recently adopted 13-year-old son, Daniel, in residential care.
Daniel, who'd come to the family with a diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), a developmental disorder that often exhibits in ambivalent and contradictory responses to caregivers, was stealing compulsively from school and from family members. His parents, Janet and Paul, had reacted by grounding him for the foreseeable future and confiscating his personal items one by one until his room resembled a barren prison cell. Relationships within the family were strained, and extended family members were adding to the tension by urgently advising increasingly severe punishments.
After hearing a good deal about Daniel's unacceptable behaviors and the failed attempts to stop them, I decided that the best way to help his parents enlarge the lens through which they viewed their problems and prepare them to try some different approaches to change their son's behavior was to engage them in a more formal "clinical" exploration of possible sources of his actions. Could we possibly find some meaning for his behavior that might disarm the defeatist, blaming family view that the boy was just bad?