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Considerations When Choosing A Counselor Who Works With Attachment Issues
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Considerations When Choosing A Counselor Who Works With Attachment Issues

There are two main considerations when choosing a counselor who works with attachment issues---the type of mental health professional and the training of the mental health professional.  There are many different types of professionals who provide mental health services.  First, let's start with counselors.  A Counselor has completed either a master's level program (M.A. or M.S.) or a doctoral level program (Ph.D. or Ed.D.).  In addition, a counselor also possesses a license (LPC).  Counselors are trained in a variety of counseling theories and techniques.

Another type of mental health professional is a social worker.  Like a counselor, a social worker has completed a master's level program (MSW) or a doctoral level program (DSW).  These individuals are licensed (LCSW).  Similar to counselors, social workers are trained in a variety of theories and techniques.  

Another common mental health professional is a Marriage and Family Therapist.  Like counselors and social workers, these individuals have completed a master's level program (M.A. or M.S.) or a doctoral level program (Ph.D.).  In addition, these individuals are licensed (LMFT).

A clinical psychologist is another type of professional that provides mental health services.  These individuals have completed a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) and are licensed (L.P.)  Psychologist provide testing and counseling services.

Finally, a psychiatrist is another type of mental health professional.  These individuals are medical doctors with specialized training in mental health issues.  Psychiatrist are designated by the initials M.D. or D.O. and are able to prescribe medications.  Most psychiatrists provide limited, if any, counseling services and mainly manage medications.

Children with RAD have complex issues.  For that reason, I would recommend, at a minimum, that the counselor be licensed.  It takes a minimum of two years for a counselor, social worker, or marriage and family therapist to obtain licensure.  This two-year period gives the counselor time to gain experience and additional training to work with children who have RAD.  I would be extremely skeptical of a counselor who is provisionally licensed or is working under the license of an agency.

The other consideration when choosing a counselor with an attachment focus is the training of the counselor.  Does the counselor have training in RAD?  Such training would include Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, Attachment-Focused EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, and Neurofeedback.  Additionally, does the counselor provide psychoeducation regarding RAD and parenting?

As most children with RAD also have Psttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the counselor also needs to have advanced training in trauma.  Such training would include EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, and certain types of play therapy.  

There are many considerations in choosing a counselor who works with attachment issues.  I hope these suggestions can offer guidance to families seeking attachment-focused counseling.

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