Today’s story – She is 13 years old. She has reactive attachment disorder (RAD) and takes it out on the whole family. She is my cousin’s child, so also my cousin. She is placed here along with her 2 other sisters. She is triggered by her younger sister’s happiness in being here and how we are one big happy family but she doesn’t feel a part of that.
An interesting suggestion was this one – Therapeutic Boxing. This is a style of depth psychotherapy using boxing skills to bring subconscious and unconscious material to the conscious mind, an unconventional style of mindfulness to look beneath the surface of behaviors. Also contact sports to help channel the anger into a positive. Some recommendations included kickboxing and Krav Maga (an Israeli martial art developed for the defense forces, it is derived from a combination of techniques used in aikido, judo, karate, boxing, savate and wrestling. It is known for its focus on real-world situations and its extreme efficiency) and rugby.
With adoptees – it is a given to seek out an adoption trauma informed therapist. Managing how an adoptee navigates trauma is a life-long road with peaks and valleys. Another type – Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) – a type of talk therapy for people who experience emotions very intensely. Evidence suggests that DBT can be useful in treating mood disorders and suicidal ideation, as well as for changing behavioral patterns such as self-harm and substance use. There is also Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – a structured, goal-oriented type of talk therapy. There are also rage rooms, also known as smash rooms or anger rooms, where people can vent their rage by destroying objects. Results according to experts appear mixed. One suggested that her oldest (age 10) loves to break large blocks of ice. There’s a lot of sensory input with that activity and it works wonders! One had a high school art teacher that always had old clay projects she could smash into the dumpster. She found that a very satisfying and helpful release. Another suggests group therapy because having other people who can relate makes some feel less alone with their situation. There are so many forms, yet another is Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP). Some target difficulties in attachment and some difficulties in intersubjectivity, finding it hard to give and take in relationships.
There are activities one can apply to develop coping skills and emotional regulation skills. Some examples include – Relaxation techniques: deep breathing, meditation, progressive muscle technique. Also taking a quiet bath in the dark, being alone but intentional about where and how one spends that time, eliminating all other distractions. Exercise; dancing, talking a walk, lifting weights. Talking with someone you trust. Engaging in art; drawing, coloring, painting, photography, playing a musical instrument. Journal, then later burn it into ashes. Also, scream into a pillow.
For the time being validate her anger. Acknowledge that you couldn’t even imagine what she is going through and apologize to her. Tell her that she’s welcome to be a part of that family bond, whenever she’s ready, and to take her time. And tell her until then, you can be a friend – if she let’s you. Some adoptees find only adulthood brings the freedom they need to cease being so angry.