Clinical psychologist Colby Pearce provides a concise and easy to understand introduction to what ‘attachment’ means, how to recognise attachment disorders and how to help children who have an attachment disorder. This extract is taken from his new book A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder, Second Edition which offers a comprehensive set of tried-and-tested practical strategies that can be used in the home, school and consulting room with children affected by an attachment disorder. Colby is also the author of A Short Introduction to Promoting Resilience in Children.
Sue J. Daniels, a therapeutic counsellor and author of Working with the Trauma of Rape and Sexual Violence, discusses the top 20 do’s and don’ts for working with survivors of sexual violence.
I remember the first client I ever saw; she was an ex-heroin addict who had been sexually violated by her brother when she was eleven years old. That particular client session was twenty years ago now, and I still remember her to this day.
The client told me that it wasn’t until she was fifteen that she realised what her brother did to her wasn’t normal. Before then, she only knew that she felt uncomfortable and that she didn’t like it but because she loved him she accepted it. During a school biology lesson she had a light bulb moment that it was wrong; so very wrong. After many years of drug addiction and self-sabotage, it took a further twenty years for her to fully disclose what had happened when she engaged in therapy for the first time.
When a person has been raped or sexually violated in any way, they can often live in their own private hell, unable to speak or recall their experiences easily. Having a trained professional to listen, with both their ears and their heart, can be priceless to that individual and is the beginning of healing and restoration for that person.
Every week we get calls from counsellors, policing teams, support workers and other professionals asking for information and/or advice about working with rape and sexual violence, so I’ve put together the following information to answer some of the questions previously asked:
Following on from the experiences that inspired Sally to write the book, here Kara McHale gives us some insight into the illustrations she put together for one of her most exciting projects to date, Sally Donovan’s new book for children aged 8-12, Billy Bramble and The Great Big Cook Off.
There are days when stories with perfect beginnings and perfect endings just don’t cut it at reading time- Ali Redford, author of The Boy Who Built a Wall Around Himself, wanted to write a book for her son that he would be able to relate to with his experiences of early trauma. In this blog post, Ali explains the story behind the boy who built a wall.
I wrote this book to scratch an itch. Something had been niggling away inside me since my children were very small.
As adoptive parents, my husband and I had missed out on our children’s very earliest years, which we knew had not been at all idyllic. They had previously had three different foster carers, one of whom had taken them to the library every week and encouraged a real love of stories. My boy Blue was then three and clinging on desperately to positive memories of his birth family. These included reading Peter Pan on his birth dad’s knee, which probably did more for Blue’s love of books than anything we have done since! But such good times were not the norm in his first two years.
Despite scouring Amazon and local book shops, we found few, if any, stories that seemed to acknowledge or recount anything but a perfect start in life. Even those books which recognized that early life could be traumatic often put the responsibility for any misery onto step mothers or evil adoptive uncles – really unhelpful at a time when we were trying to help our children form loving attachments! Our most useful and beloved books in those early days were probably John Burningham’s Borka, Debi Gilori’s No Matter What and The Ugly Duckling. As Blue got older he latched on to Harry Potter with a vengeance – but Harry grew up too fast, too soon for Blue and the books (which we read avidly anyway) were already too advanced to begin with. We had needed something else, something simple, with strong images that conveyed both the dark times and gave the reader a feeling of hope.
At the time I wrote The Boy Who… our family had just (reluctantly and temporarily as it turned out) finished three years of therapy at the excellent Family Futures. I was having to draw on everything I had learned about therapeutic parenting from them to help my boy through an extremely difficult last year at primary school and transition into secondary. At home, we were coping with lots of very challenging behaviour, but deep down I knew it wasn’t really my boy, but the trauma he had suffered showing itself through him. Boy is basically my boy Blue, with several pinches of salt and a light sprinkling of sugar. The character of Someone Kind is based on our wonderful Family Futures therapists, with the best of my husband and our support network thrown in. The wall metaphor just came. It should not be confused (although it may well be) with a different but equally helpful wall used by Adoption UK to demonstrate why adopted children do not always recover from the gaps in their early lives. But that’s another story!
I’m almost ashamed to say I wrote The Boy Who… in about half an hour, tweaks aside. I showed it to a few close friends before asking one of them to illustrate it for me. As the mother of one of Blue’s oldest friends, I knew Kara Simpson would understand what I was trying to say and do. She also happens to be one of the best illustrators I know. Her work on the book took considerably longer to do than mine but I’m sure everyone will agree her beautiful illustrations perfectly capture the darkness as well as the light in the story.
So there you are, that’s our little book. My itch has been scratched and if a few more traumatised children now have something they can really relate to or which helps them move on in any way, any minor discomfort of mine will have been well worth it.
Ali Redford is an adoptive parent of siblings who has worked in education, theatre and marketing. She has been through a lot of family therapy and, on a good day, seems to be coming out the other side, touch wood.
The Boy Who Built A Wall Around Himself