Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 351-360

First online:

A Preliminary Investigation of the Effectiveness of Attachment Therapy for Adopted Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder

  • Jane S. WimmerAffiliated withDalton State College School of Social Work Email author 
  • , M. Elizabeth VonkAffiliated withUniversity of Georgia School of Social Work
  • , Patrick BordnickAffiliated withGraduate College of Social Work, University of Houston

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The purpose of this preliminary investigation was to examine the effectiveness of attachment therapy for adopted children diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Although attachment therapy is widely utilized in the practice community, outcomes of such therapy have not been well documented. In this study a pretest–posttest one-group design was used with a sample of 24 adopted children who received attachment therapy from trained, licensed therapists. Therapy was funded by the Georgia Office of Adoptions under a contract with a non-profit adoptive parent advocacy group which provided training of therapists and direct services to families. RAD was measured with the Randolph Attachment Disorder Questionnaire (RADQ), Third Edition; functional impairment was measured with the Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale (CAFAS). Statistically significant decreases in scores on the RADQ and CAFAS from pretests to posttests indicate improvement for the children who received therapy. In spite of methodological limitations, the current study adds to the limited knowledge about effective treatment for RAD.


Reactive attachment disorder Attachment therapy Special needs adoption