• Residential Treatment Program for Teens 14-17

Attachment Issues


Treatments for Attachment Issues

The Developmental Trauma Group is a speciality therapeutic group offered to students that have experienced adoption, attachment, or developmental trauma. Identity is a common issue for teens that have experienced this trauma, and it can be very healing to help foster a sense of community and identity in an area that previously caused them to feel so isolated. 

Trauma Focused Equine Assisted Therapy (TF EAP) is another approach is that very healing from a relational level: students have the opportunity to build relationships and practice communication with real time results. Instead of hearing about how they are showing, they are seeing how they are showing up in the relationship with the horse.

Solstice West also has Adventure Therapy which offers long-term and repeated shared experiences with peers, which provides opportunity to create and practice healthy attachments. 

Family Therapy is a critical part of attachment and adoption work: having students feel empowered and safe enough to begin to heal the family wounds is very powerful, and many times current parents are unaware of the impacts that developmental trauma have on their teen. Students feel seen and heard, which goes a long way in the healing process.

Attachment issues can come up when there is anything besides a “secure attachment” to one’s primary caregivers. Events such as adoption, divorce, or neglect/abuse can cause attachment issues to occur. In teens with attachment and/or adoption issues, one of the most important  initial therapeutic inventions is for the teen to be in a safe, relationship-based environment. Solstice West is known for its relationship-based approach and positive peer milieu, and this allows for the student to develop that secure attachment with their therapist.

Adoption issues are a more specific type of attachment issue. They can include big questions around self and worthiness, for example “who am I?” and “am I worthy of love if someone gave me up?” Through the Hero’s Journey curriculum at Solstice West, teens are able to address these questions and more in a supportive and loving environment. 

Causes of Attachment and Adoption Issues

Most teens that have attachment issues had problems or difficulties in significant early relationships. These problems or difficulties can include:

  • Being in an orphanage or foster care
  • Physical, emotional, or verbal abuse
  • Parent(s) with mental illness, drug abuse, or anger management problem(s)
  • Frequent changes in caregivers

Because they lacked a secure attachment or attachments as young children, false ideas were imprinted within their core beliefs. A common example that teens with attachment issues deal with  is “my needs don’t matter”. This is because, at a very early age, the people and world around them let these children know that their needs were not as important as other circumstances around them. Whether intentional or not, the effects can be devastating during the developmental years and beyond. 

Attachment and adoption issues have very real consequences including psychoneurophysiological effects: hyperarousal, hypervigilance, and cortisol elevation, all occurring during a time where the child’s brain is any number of key developmental stages. The associated emotional and social problems often persist as the child grows up.

Signs and Symptoms of Attachment Issues In Teens

It is very common for teens that have been adopted to have attachment issues, but not every person with attachment issues also has adoption issues. Here is information on both sets of issues and what to look for:

Attachment Issues:
  • Unexplained withdrawal, fear, sadness or irritability
  • Control issues: Because they felt helpless at a young age, teens with attachment issues will go to great lengths to ensure they are in control and not feeling helpless again.
  • Difficulty showing appropriate emotions: This can be difficulty showing affection toward parents or relatives and also showing excessive affection toward someone they have little connection with.
  • Anger problems: This can be having tantrums or acting out in passive-aggressive ways.
Adoption Issues:

The primary reason for adoption issues is being adopted. There are also factors and considerations within the adoption that can increase the odds that issues will arise later on. They are:

  • Age
  • Secrecy Of Parents
  • Differences In Ethnicity
  • Genetic Differences