Adoption, Attachment and trauma are linked. Adoption leads to a separation of a child from its primary carer, this is a trauma. When I first realised that my son had attachment issues through his adoption and poor foster care, I was told by a Children & Adolescent Mental health worker that there were no effective interventions that could help my son. She even sent me a photocopy of an article outlining the fact that young people with an attachment disorder were extremely likely to end up in borstal. No strategies were offered.
It seemed hopeless, that his fate was sealed. I was devastated. Looking at my 3 year old son, I saw no hope for his future. I refused to accept this bleak landscape and started on my 'quest' to find some answers that could give us all hope, give him a life, and a place in society. For he had committed no sin or wrong doing, he was a child. My son deserved better.
I researched attachment disorders, trauma and secondary trauma, believing that with knowledge comes power. I taught myself different ways of parenting my son, always having to adapt my approach as no one response worked for very long! This learning encouraged me to train as a counsellor and then after witnessing massive changes in my son after he received a therapy called Lifespan Integration, I decided to train in this therapeutic approach as well. Li integrates in a gentle but powerful way.
For a number of years, I have become interested in neuro-plasticity, the fact that the brain can change and develop throughout our life, under the right conditions. We are not frozen in time, hope is not lost. Trauma actually changes the structure of our genes, and the heartening message is that this alteration to the gene is reversible, with the right environment.
I attended the Attachment & Trauma Conference (12th-14th May 2017) in London, along with 1200 other individuals. I found the developments in neuroscience and its application to therapy fascinating and reassuring, if at times too complex to fully take in! Dan Siegel (1) talked about integration being;
'.. the essential mechanism of health as it promotes a flexible and adaptive way of being that is filled with vitality and creativity. The ultimate outcome of integration is harmony. The absence of integration leads to chaos and rigidity'. Health and integration are linked.
Another interesting fact was that the body has the fight or flight impulse when faced with danger. The body has the freeze response and the flop response. This means that if people have ever been attacked but were left unable to fight, they should be free of shame and blame. This response to freeze or flop is part of our makeup, our survival mechanism. Many survivors of assaults feel that they should have fought back but couldn't. The research supports them - they literally could not fight. Instinct took over.
Neuro- science and psychotherapy are meeting and talking. This is good news for all concerned. It has always been believed that therapy can help individuals in pain, but now the science is actually proving it. Images of the brain show how trauma can affect it, and research proves that maltreatment and longterm deprivation directly influences how affected individuals struggle with understanding in an empathic manner and that these individuals struggle with self regulation, according to Arduzzi et al (2) . What has been supposed is being proven.
As we become more aware of the brain and the body being linked, so therapy can adapt to embrace the new knowledge. This is exciting and amazing I feel.
(1) Siegel. D (2010): http://www.drdansiegel.com/abouinterpersonal_neurobiology/
(2) Ardizzi. M., Umilita. M. A., Ravera R, Evangelista. V., & Gallese. V. ( 2017); The impact of prolonged maltreatment and neglect on the physiological mechanisms supporting humans' social nature: a study of street boys of Sierra Leone.