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Rachel,2 not yet 2 years old, stood looking at herself in the full-length mirror, a frown slowly overtaking her face. Deep in her throat began a low, grumbling growl. As the growl grew louder, she...

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Rachel,2 not yet 2 years old, stood looking at herself in the
full-length mi
or, a frown slowly overtaking her face. Deep
in her throat began a low, grumbling growl. As the growl
grew louder, she began hitting the side of her head and mov-
ing slowly toward the mi
or, her eyes glued to her own
image. The growling became yelling, and she began slapping
at herself in the mi
or. I sat, stunned, unable to move o
formulate a response. Her rage was palpable and deeply dis-
ing. Finally, I got up from my chair and went to her. I
got down on my knees, gently held her shoulders, looked
into her eyes, and said, “Rachel, this is not your fault! You
are loveable and you are loved.”
Healing and Change From an Attachment
Theory Perspective1
The Children’s Ark
Gonzaga University
May 2006
This article focuses on the remarkable story of a deeply
disorganized child, Rachel, and her experience in foste
care with Janet and Paul Mann, founders of the Chil-
dren’s Ark. Rachel and her mother were refe
ed to the
Ark, an innovative intervention center for at-risk fami-
lies, when Rachel was 10 months old. After 11 months
at the Ark, Rachel was placed into foster care with the
Manns. On the basis of Janet Mann’s professional
immersion in attachment theory, object relations theory,
and especially the Circle of Security protocol (Cooper,
Hoffman, Powell, & Marvin, 2005), Janet extracted
6 “principles” that guided her caregiving behavior with
Rachel. These principles included: (a) Communicating
the message, “I am here and you are worth it”;
(b) viewing negative behavior as needed; (c) reading
cues and reinterpreting miscues; (d) “being with,” espe-
cially during periods of intense emotion; (e) working
consciously toward relationship repair when disruption
occurs; and (f) developing awareness of one’s own state
of mind. This article explains and illustrates these princi-
ples through Janet’s experiences with Rachel and pro-
vides candid insight into what hurt children need fo
healing and positive change.
This article presents a remarkable story of a deeply trau-
matized child who, by great fortune, was placed into foste
care with Janet and Paul Mann, founders of the Children’s
Ark, Spokane, Washington (described below). Her story
1Portions of this paper have been presented at various training work-
shops, including at Project Same Page, which was supported by the Paul
Allen Foundation. We wish to thank Rachel and her family for allowing
us to use examples from her experience with Janet to illustrate the princi-
ples in this article. In addition to her family, Janet extends her gratitude
to her clinical colleagues, Sandra Powell and Kent Hoffman, who walked
this journey with her, enriching the experience. The Circle of Security
Project along with Janet’s work, interactions, and experiences with Glen
Cooper, Kent Hoffman, and Bert Powell drove and framed the principles
outlined in this article.
espondence concerning this article should be addressed to
Molly D. Kretchmar, Department of Psychology, Gonzaga University, 502
2In order to protect the privacy and to respect the confidentiality of
the child represented in this article, her name has been changed. Further,
the child’s adoptive parents provided full consent to the use of her story
and read a complete draft of the manuscript prior to its submission in
order to confirm that they were comfortable with its contents.
21382_Pg XXXXXXXXXX/1/06 6:57 AM Page 29
May 2006
to them, about whether they are worthy of care, and so
forth. Children with secure attachment histories have a
sense of trust toward others and feel the self-worth reflected
y the nurturing care they have received. In contrast, chil-
dren with insecure histories are likely to view others as less
available and less trustworthy and to have internalized a
compromised sense of self (Weinfield, Sroufe, Egeland, &
Carlson, XXXXXXXXXXOf greatest concern are children with disor-
ganized attachment strategies. These children typically
have caregivers who are either frightening or frightened,
placing them in an i
esolvable approach–avoidance bind;
“the infant is presented with a paradox wherein the haven
of safety is at once the source of the alarm” (Main & Hesse,
1990, p XXXXXXXXXXStemming from this paradox, researchers
expect that these children will ca
y forward highly dis-
torted models of the self and of relationships; models char-
acterized by deep mistrust, fear, rage, and possibly violence.
Some theorists further speculate that disorganization is a
precursor to serious psychopathologies (Crittenden, 1995;
see also Lyons-Ruth & Jacobvitz, 1999).
Children in the foster care system have likely suffered
multiple attachment-related traumas, not the least of which
is parenting that is traumatic and frightening. It is likely,
then, that many of these children have insecure and/or dis-
organized attachment relationships (Schofield & Beek,
2005). However, even when children have insecure and/o
disorganized attachment relationships with their parents,
eing separated from these primary caregivers adds anothe
layer of trauma (Charles & Matheson, XXXXXXXXXXFor a young
child, the very nature of separation is scary; even if what
they had was abusive, it was at least familiar and perhaps
even predictable. Children also have a remarkable capacity
demonstrates how a predictable environment and secure,
loving care providers can foster change even when a child
is profoundly disorganized, deeply mistrusting, and full of
age toward herself and others. Along with their commit-
ment to her, Rachel’s care providers’ solid understanding of
attachment theory and their ability to translate theory into
practice were central to the progress Rachel made. In this
article, we use Rachel’s story to illustrate principles of care-
giving grounded in attachment theory that we hope will
provide insight to other care providers. This story is ulti-
mately one of great hope, not only for this child but for the
thousands of hurt children in foster care.
Attachment Theory and Foster Care
“Attachment theory,” first developed by John Bowlby
(Bowlby, 1969/1982, 1973, 1980), asserts that children have
a primary and essential need to be “in relationship” with
their caregivers. To ensure our survival, our evolutionary
history prepared us to seek closeness or proximity to ou
caregivers, especially under conditions of threat or vulnera-
ility (e.g., presence of a stranger, illness). When caregivers
are available and welcoming, seeking proximity is easy and
children’s feelings of safety and security are bolstered. When
caregivers are unavailable (physically, emotionally, or both),
inconsistent in their responsiveness, or frightening in some
way (e.g., abusive), seeking closeness becomes more difficult
and children’s feelings of security and safety are disrupted.
Bowlby (1969/1982) proposed that young children
internalize “working models,” or representations about
themselves and others that are based on their early attach-
ment experiences. These models form the basis for chil-
dren’s expectations about how others are likely to respond
: M
21382_Pg XXXXXXXXXX/1/06 6:57 AM Page 30
to be connected to their caregivers, even their abusive o
depressed or addicted caregivers; this attachment is primal
and visceral—built into our species to help ensure our sur-
vival (Bowlby, 1969/1982). Removing a child, then, even
for the child’s welfare, is likely to be deeply threatening and
disorganizing in and of itself. In addition, because the pre-
sent foster care system cannot ensure permanent place-
ments for children, many children experience multiple
placements, involving multiple separation and loss experi-
ences, which only compound children’s deeply distu
sense of self and other (Charles & Matheson, 1990).
The Children’s Ark: An Attachment-
Oriented Solution
The Children’s Ark was founded in 1994 by Paul and
Janet Mann, who then had over 6 years of foster care experi-
ence and had provided care for over 40 children. The Chil-
dren’s Ark began as a foster care residential program in
which mothers who had lost custody of their children were
able to live, full time, with their children in a safe, struc-
tured, therapeutic environment. The hope was to minimize
the separation experience between the parent and child
(Kretchmar, Worsham, & Swenson, 2005; Worsham &
Kretchmar, XXXXXXXXXXPresently, the Ark functions as an evalu-
ation and intervention center that allows for daily and
extended visitation between children placed in foster care
and their parents. At the Ark, parents join their children
each week day, retain the primary caregiving responsibilities
under the Ark staff’s supervision, and are required to work
toward improving their capacities for parenting and self-
sufficiency. In addition to being with their children, parents
participate in educational programs and in the Circle of
Security, a group-based intervention in which parents learn
about their attachment relationships with their children and
how to enhance these relationships (Cooper et al., 2005;
Marvin, Cooper, Hoffman, & Powell, XXXXXXXXXXRachel and he
mother joined the Ark when Rachel was 10 months old.
Rachel: A Teacher of Powerful Lessons
Rachel was born into a chaotic family environment in
which the abuse of her older siblings by her father had
already attracted the attention of child protective services.
With her father gone, Rachel remained under her mother’s
care in an in-home dependency issued by the State of
Washington. When she was 10 months old, she and he
mother were refe
ed to the Children’s Ark for services
after Rachel was diagnosed with multiple delays and failure
to thrive. Rachel and her mother participated in the Ark
for 11 months during which time the Ark staff became
increasingly concerned about Rachel’s safety in the home
and the impact of Rachel’s home environment on he
development. Rachel’s mother agreed to voluntarily place
Rachel in foster care with Janet and Paul Mann.
Janet Mann became Rachel’s primary attachment fig-
ure. In her journey with Janet, Rachel was a powerful
teacher about what all children, but especially hurt chil-
dren, need to develop to their ultimate potential and about
what even temporary care providers can do to begin to heal
the pain of the child’s past. Janet, an experienced foste
parent well versed in attachment theory, had the wisdom
to listen to Rachel and to see through Rachel’s compli-
cated behavior to her vulnerability and tremendous need.
It is in Janet’s words that we tell Rachel’s story:
After watching Rachel in the mi
or, I was aware of
pondering somberly how wounded she was. It was certainly
clear to me that it was a dismal picture she ca
ied in he
head about how the world worked, whether or not she was
valuable, how she would be responded to, and whether she
could impact her world. Much of her rage seemed to be
aimed at herself; somehow she ca
ied the responsibility fo
Answered Same Day Jul 15, 2020


Manvi answered on Jul 18 2020
119 Votes
One can successfully infer that some children have high needs for emotional and behavioural support, to meet their true potential. I can now gaze at and interpret deeper layers underneath profound withdrawal, mistrust, fear, rage, attention seeking behaviour, vulnerability and possibly violent actions of children. These layers comprise of intense needs of safety and security. It is imperative to make children realise that they are worth being loved, that they are being understood, that they...

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