Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

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To feel attached is to feel connected, protected, and safe (Sable, 2013). Although a relationship with a pet is not the same as one with another human, individuals have a biological need for attachment. Attachment theory and neurobiology specifically give an even deeper understanding of the closeness that animals provide, and this knowledge is relevant to therapeutic work (Knapp, 1998). The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effects of canine-assisted therapy among children who are diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). There is not a lot of research on working interventions that assist a child with poor attachment styles learn positive attachment styles. This study will be able to shed light onto if Canine-Assisted Therapy…show more content…
RAD is a persistent social or emotional disturbance characterized minimal social and emotional responsiveness to others, limited positive affect, and episodes of unexplained irritability, sadness, or fearfulness that are evident even during non-threatening interactions with adult caregivers. RAD can manifest when the child has experienced a pattern of extremes of insufficient care as evidenced by social neglect or deprivation in the form of persistent lack of having basic emotional needs for comfort, stimulation, and affection met by caring adults, repeated changes of primary caregivers that limit opportunities to form stable attachments (e.g., frequent changes in foster care), or rearing in unusual settings that severely limit opportunities to form selective attachments (e.g., institutions with high child to caregiver ratios) (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).
Paws for Healing is a non-profit organization based out of Napa, California. Their primary mission is to train volunteers in the community in Canine-Assisted Therapy (CAT). These teams seek to enhance the quality of life of individuals in hospitals, mental health facilities, special education classes, adult day care centers, cancer units, hospice
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For example, our upstairs bathroom has been a source of real terror for her. A couple of months ago, on her own, she took Grizwald into this tiny bathroom and used it without me or any other support. This may not sound like a lot to someone who doesn’t know Bekah, but let me tell you, this was a major breakthrough.”
The goal of this literature review is to determine if there is research supporting a positive correlation between the use of CAT and improved attachment styles among children diagnosed with RAD. Due to a lack of research in CAT and the fact that most AAT involves the use of canines, it will be assumed in this paper that if canines are not mentioned in the research, the effectiveness of CAT may be equal to the effectiveness of AAT (National Service Animal Registry, 2017).
Sable (2013) suggested that a relationship with a family pet, especially a dog or cat, reflects certain aspects of attachment which may result in a sense of comfort and connection to individuals. Sable came to this conclusion using the ethological-evolutionary framework of attachment, neuroscience, and animal studies. He concluded that there is now convincing scientific evidence that companion animals have positive effects on psychological and physical well-being, helping shape how people regulate their emotions, deal with stress or trauma, and relate to others (Sable,
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