Effectiveness of Therapeutic Attachment Camps for Improving Behavior in Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder

Anne M. Coleman1, Allen Rand Coleman2, *
1 Cabrini University, Radnor, PA 19087, USA
2 Cornerstone Therapy & Wellness, Malvern, Pennsylvania, USA

© 2017 Coleman and Coleman.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Cornerstone Therapy and Wellness 639 W Swedesford Rd, Malvern, PA 19355, USA, Tel: (610) 616-5935; E-mail:



Early childhood attachment disruption manifests in disruptive, oppositional behavior and reduced ability for trusting intimate relationships. Chronic emotional disorder negatively affects the entire family system, making treatment difficult.


The goal of the study was to assess a family therapeutic treatment program for children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) conducted through an intensive, one-week camp.


Therapeutic camps included training for caregivers, support for siblings, behavioral interventions for children with RAD, and family therapy exercises. Camps were conducted across North America. Standardized behavioral health rating scales were used to evaluate outcomes.


Therapeutic Attachment Camp effectively reduced disruptive behaviors within a one week period and improved family mental health scores. Pretest to post-test scores on the Randolph Attachment Disorder Questionnaire showed significant change in a clinically positive direction. Behaviors specifically associated with attachment and conscience development improved, such as showing remorse or guilt, self-control, telling the truth and accepting parental direction. Child anxiety was observed to be less based on self-rating on the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Parent anxiety was significantly reduced based on the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Statistical effects were moderate to large.


Results suggested that a treatment program addressing the needs of the entire family and combining attachment exercises with psychoeducation and structured parenting practice can be effective within a short time frame. Findings have implications for community and family mental health, and for developing culturally relevant treatments that integrate disciplines.

Keywords: Attachment, Therapeutic camps, Anxiety, Adoption, Foster care.