Play Your Way into Connection

Today’s blog post is written by guest blogger and life coach, Renee Witkowski. Renee is a professionally trained Christian life coach who specializes in the area of adoptive and foster families. I am so thankful Renee is sharing her experience and knowledge with us!

Play Your Way into Connection

My family has a funny story that has been passed down and fondly enjoyed at holiday get togethers over the years. A long time ago, my grandmother was traveling on a toll roundaboutroad, took an exit, and paid the toll, but for some reason she could not figure out how to get off the old highway and onto the new one. She continued to drive in a circle and pay the toll over and over, until a kind (and probably quite amused) toll operator helped her navigate in a different direction.
Just like in this story, foster and adopted parents may find themselves stuck in a negative pattern with their child that they just can’t figure out how to get out of. Their relationship may be frozen in a loop of anger, resentment and frustration.

This negative cycle can be very frustrating and discouraging for both parties, but one enodadproven way to navigate off this road is for the parent to intentionally interject play and fun into the relationship, even if they don’t feel joy or closeness when they are with their child.
Having fun together is an experiential way to tell a child that relationships can be safe and pleasurable. Not only can play short circuit the negative beliefs and bad wiring that a child may have, but play can re-wire joy, trust and attachment. Play can send the message “I like you”, “you’re special to me” or “we can have fun together”.
Being playful is an attitude shift away from negativity and into a cheerful, happy stance. It is adding lightness, joy, and silliness to everyday life.
Parents are not following their feelings, but are leading the emotional tone of the tongues-1031219_1920 (2)relationship. They are paying attention to not only their actions, but also to their facial expression and the tone of their voice.
How can a caregiver add playful engagement into the parent-child relationship, especially if the relationship is not in a good place?
The adult will need to set the mood, be intentional and look for everyday opportunities to initiate this type of interaction. Playful involvement does not need to be lengthy but can just be a short burst of happy, surprise interaction. Adding the elements of physical activity or touch are often helpful.
After parents get into the groove of being playful, they can begin to use their own creativity to interject play into the relationship with their child. Some examples to get parents started are:
1. Ask a question or answer your child in a funny voice or foreign accent.
2. Pretend that your kitchen is a fancy restaurant, take your child’s order and make up an impressive name for the meal.
3. Sit on the couch and play a game mirroring each other’s movements.
4. Take a walk together while playing follow the leader. Let the child have a turn where you follow them.
5. Take turns taking silly pictures of each other.

It may feel strange engaging with an older child in a more playful way. Typically, this type of interaction is reserved for babies and young children. You may feel uncomfortable at first, but give it a try. Break out of your comfort zone and see if you can surprise your child and yourself with a few minutes of positive interaction. Remember, shifting away from negativity and adding play will take time and practice for everyone, but a deeper connection is possible with lighthearted fun and intentional parenting.

ReneeFB Witkowski-social media-EditDo you need help learning to engage your child in a playful way? If so, contact us today! We offer small, affordable coaching groups and individual parent coaching. You can learn new skills and practice them in a small community of support. Visit our website at or contact Renee at


DBT Skills: A Life In Balance


(This article was initially published in the June 2017 edition of Adoption Today. Please see citation at the end of the article.)

Today, adolescent mental health is a concern our society, and around the world. Just reflecting on the names Columbine and Sandy Hook bring clear memories of devastation, loss, and adolescents who suffered with emotional instability.

Unfortunately, statistics validate mental health concerns for our children. The National Alliance for Mental Illness recently shared facts about youth provided by the National Institute of Mental Health. In their fact sheet they reported: 20% of youth ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition, 11% of youth have a mood disorder, 10% of youth have a behavior or conduct disorder, 8% of youth have an anxiety disorder, and 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24. (

Given the instability of adolescents in today’s world, it is our responsibility to teach young people skills they are missing due to mental health issues, and any level of trauma they have endured. In the late 1990’s, Dr. Marsha Linehan created a new type of treatment that addresses these skill deficits. She named this therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, widely known as DBT. Although DBT was originally created for adults, it has been modified to be used for teens and older children since around 2011.

dbt_blogWHAT IS DBT?

According to Dr. Linehan, “DBT is a cognitive behavioral therapy that was originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and it is now recognized as the gold standard psychological treatment for this population. In addition, research has shown that it is effective in treating a wide range of other disorders such as substance dependence, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders.” (

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is based on bio-social theory. Dr. Linehan found that “emotionally sensitive” individuals who have been raised in an “invalidating environment” can later lead to a difficulties and even a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. The term invalidating environment refers to a situation where the personal experiences and responses of a child are “put down” or “invalidated” by the significant others in his or her life. As an example, a child’s is hurt and cries; the adult responds to the situation by saying, “No crying . . . move past it.keep-calm-and-use-your-dbt-skills-14

While the combination of emotional sensitivity and an emotionally invalidating environment can lead to a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, let’s remember this diagnosis is typically not given before the age of 18. Borderline Personality Disorder has it’s roots in trauma and ambivalent attachment difficulties. Over time, if they are not treated, they can develop into BPD. The symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder include:
Impulsive behaviors
Difficult relationships
Low self-image
Intense and frequent mood swings


DBT has four groups of skills, or modules: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotional Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. Under each group, there are numerous techniques and hands on tools to help a child or teen learn the overall life balancing concepts. It’s extremely valuable for parents to learn and implement DBT skills alongside their child or teen to ensure their success in learning the skills.

Let’s look more closely at the four modules:

1. Mindfulness- Mindfulness is a practice of being in the moment, without judgment, and awareness of our thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and environment. We learn to be mindful by using our five senses to stay fully in the moment, without multi-tasking.

2. Distress Tolerance In Distress Tolerance we are learning skills to stay out of emotional crisis ranging from either out of control emotions and behavior to complete shut down of emotions and behavior. These skills help us to get through difficult emotions and situations we have to deal with or accept.

In distress tolerance skills, one strategy is to distract for a period of time in a healthy manner. One tool in this module is called, Self-Soothe With 5 Senses. In Self Soothe we use our five senses (see, hear, touch, taste, smell) to soothe our emotions and prevent them from getting out of control, and at the same time increasing our physical and emotional calmness. Let your child or teen choose some items to place in a box, and keep them handy in a certain location in their room. Many of the teens in my practice like this skill and find it helpful. Some examples they’ve given are:

See- A picture of the ocean, seeing friends or a younger family member, a picture of a TV or movie character.

Hear- Orchestra music, favorite song/artist, worship music, white noise, sound of rain.

Touch- A warm, comfy blanket; a fuzzy stuffed animal; a soft, cuddly family pet.

Taste- Sweet or sour candy, soft yeast rolls, macaroni and cheese, chewy foods.

Smell- The aroma of foods like coffee, ice cream or caramel; candles or lotion with warm vanilla sugar scent (or another favorite scent).

3. Emotion Regulation In this module, the skills teach your child or teen about emotions: recognizing, identifying, and staying in charge of them. We also explore and get to know emotions by asking questions like, “What are my emotions job?” “How do I experience my emotions: how do they make my feel in my heart, in my body, in my voice, and in my facial expressions?”

One of my favorite DBT- ER skills is the acronym, MEDDSS, which stands for: mastery, exercise, diet, medication management, sleep, and spirituality. MEDDSS is about self-care, and keeping our body, mind, and emotions in balance.

keep-calm-and-dbt-on-1.jpg4. Interpersonal Effectiveness– Everyone has to handle relationships in an effective, healthy manner as relationships are all around us. Relationships may be with parents, birth family, foster family, siblings, teachers, coaches, peers, neighbors, and also —ourselves. DBT skills teach us to invest in relationships, get our needs met in a healthy way, and to maintain self-respect.

FAST is an DBT acronym to practice self-respect. The letters stand for: Fair to self and others, Apologize less (don’t over-apologize), Stick to your values, and Truthful with self and others.

Validation is another powerful IE skill. We validate others by helping them feel heard and understood. Our communication brings a sense of connection and understanding in the relationship, helping it to heal and grow.

DBT is an extremely effective group of practical tools to help people regulate emotions, manage emotional crisis, and get along better with others.

Lozier, C., MSW, LCSW. (2017, June). DBT: A Life in Balance. Adoption Today, 19(10), 24-25.

book-pictureCarol Lozier earned a Masters in Clinical Social Work from Florida State University in 1989. Ms. Lozier is a licensed therapist in Kentucky, and has been in private practice since 1998.

Ms. Lozier specializes in trauma; and adopted and foster children, teens, and adults. Ms. Lozier offers a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills groups with kids and teens. She plans to start an online DBT skills group for moms; visit her website to sign up

Ms. Lozier is the author of three books for adoptive and foster children and families. Learn more about Ms. Lozier and her books at

6 Practical Strategies to Improve Secure Attachment

6 Practical Strategies to Improve Secure Attachment

Cathy adopted her sixteen year old daughter, Rachel, from foster care at eight months of age. Cathy shares, “Rachel is on the dance team at school. This week they performed in front of the whole school, and Rachel was really nervous!”

“I saw her walk into the gym, and I was worried she wouldn’t find me. I waited while she looked around the room. Finally, our eyes met, and at the same time we pointed at each other. I gave her a thumbs up, and I could see her relax.”

Cathy’s story tells a lot about her (secure) attachment with Rachel who looks to her for connection, comfort, and safety.

therapist.childIn a secure or healthy attachment, the child seeks comfort from her caregiver and prefers her over strangers. In turn, the child feels safe, emotionally secure, and protected. Additionally, the child seeks their parent for emotional and physical connection when they are frightened, hurt. or if they become separated.

Secure attachments develop from available, consistent, and sensitive caregiving. An attachment forms from repeated interactions between the child and caregiver.

6 Practical Strategies to Improve Attachment

Following are practical strategies to use in relationship with your child. Practice these interactions as you work to improve your emotional connection.

1.Identify thoughts and feelings. Find alone time to listen to your child’s thoughts and feelings, especially ones that are hard to acknowledge. Say to your child, “I want to hear how you feel. Your feelings are important to me.” One hallmark of secure attachment is the ability to share feelings. Help your child to develop this skill.

2. Repair breaks in your relationship. Anytime you mess up (and we all do!) make sure take responsibility for your mistake, and apologize. When you apologize, you repair the break.

yoga.mom3. Validate your child’s feelings. Any time your child chooses to share, validate them. Validating helps a child feel heard and understood. Summarize their statement or use sentence starters, “What I’m hearing is . . . “ “It make sense to me that you’re feeling . . . “ or “I understand that you’re feeling . . . “.

4. Gently point out distancing behaviors. When your child is distancing, use kind honesty to point it out. Say to your child, “I think you are pushing my love away by ignoring me/pushing me away/being mean to me.”

5. Write. When your child is reluctant or refuses to talk, encourage him or her to share feelings through writing. It is a great first step towards verbal sharing.

6. Draw the feeling words. Feelings can be overwhelming. Draw the five feeling words (happy, sad, mad, scared, and loving) on paper, and ask your child to circle how he or she feels. Again, this is another step in the right direction to verbally sharing feelings.

book-pictureCarol Lozier is a therapist, author, and blogger specializing in trauma; and adoptive and foster kids, teens, and adults. Ms. Lozier is in private practice in Louisville, KY.


“We Are On Our Own In This”

“We Are On Our Own In This”

Last weekend I received a call from adoptive mom, Brenna, who was desperately searching for help for her family. She and her husband, John, had adopted a sibling group of three many years ago.

The children are now in their teen years. Brenna states, “We have never been in any therapy and they’re now taking acting out to a new level.” Unfortunately, over the past week John has confessed he can not take any more, and is planning to leave the family.

sadfamily_fullsizeIn session I asked Brenna about their community, “Well, we’re in an active group in our community, but they are looking to us for answers. We’re the veterans, so I can’t confide in them about our problems. My family lives out of state, and John’s family can’t handle the kids. We’re on our own in this.”

This family had quite a few overwhelming issues on their plate: John’s level of distress, the children’s acting out, and a lack of encouragement from their family, friends, and community. Brenna’s family situation can improve, and they need others to help and champion for them. Life’s challenges are less frightening if you have others walking alongside you.

Let’s Build a Community

It is imperative that adoptive and foster families offer connection, support, and strength to one another. Life’s biggest problems feel a little less burdensome when we have people who truly “get us”. This felt sense of safety is most palpable when we engage with someone in the same situation or “boat” as ourself. There are many ways to accomplish divorce-family-picturebuilding a community, and some ideas may include the following:

When you meet a new adoptive or foster family or run into a fellow adoptive parent, ask them how they are doing. And ask with your full attention —be mindful and respectful, fully engaged only in the conversation with the other person. So many times adoptive and foster parents feel alone . . . when you are fully present with them, it helps them to feel heard and connected to you.

Refrain from judging anyone. This is a big one! So many families feel judgment all around them: at their child’s school, daycare, Sunday school class, at family functions, in the neighborhood. Be the non-judgmental ear others are seeking.

Do not assume that other families are doing okay if the parents are smiling or do not complain. Many families are suffering in silence.

Be honest with yourself and others about your current situation. The fact is— all families go through times of burdens as well as times of blessings. The more honest you are and voice what you or your family needs, the more it enables others to be available for you.

If you meet a adoptive or foster parent who is not involved in a group, invite them to join your group. Share your resources and wisdom.sad mom

If your family is having a hard time, ask other families for resources. Accept any help they may propose, from several hours of respite to a cooked meal

Give one another hope and strength. If your family is in a good place, reach out to another family. Share your hope, your comfort, your story, and any other need you can fulfill for them.

Don’t forget to click on the FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL button on the top right side of the page to get updated posts and information on upcoming groups for kids, teens, and parents!

book-pictureCarol Lozier is a therapist, author, and blogger specializing in trauma; and adoptive and foster kids, teens, and adults. Ms. Lozier is in private practice in Louisville, KY.

Selecting A Therapist for Your Foster or Adopted Child

Selecting A Therapist for Your Foster or Adopted Child

Many parents begin to seek counseling as soon as their child comes home while other families may not see a need arise until a later time, such as adolescence. (I would strongly suggest finding a therapist before there is a critical need for one.) For most families, finding a therapist can be a challenging task especially if there are not trauma informed therapists nearby. This post hopes to give parents some direction on choosing a counselor for their family.

therapist,righttimeThere are many factors to consider from insurance and office location, to the therapist’s degree and training. All of this may seem confusing coupled with the many academic degrees that therapists may hold. Most clinicians will be happy to answer parent’s questions as they go about finding the best fit for their child and family.

Below is a list questions parents can ask the prospective therapist:

1. Do you have a Masters degree (or above) in a counseling related field? Counseling related fields can include but are not limited to: psychology, social work, and marriage and family therapy. It is imperative that your therapist hold at least a masters degree in their field. (By the way, the terms “counselor” and “therapist” are interchangeable and generic ,and do not indicate a particular educational background. The term “social worker” does indicate the person holds a degree in social work but this is not always the case, and therefore, I would encourage you to ask what degree they have received.)

2. Do you have a license to practice independently? Each state and degree has different requirements but a license indicates the therapist passed state boards which indicates experience and competency in their degree.

3. When did you complete your counseling degree? It is preferable for the therapist to have graduated more than five years ago. Of course, counseling is an art and the more years of experience the therapist has, the more likely they are to be adept in their profession.

4. Are you in network with my insurance? If a therapist is IN Network with your insurance, that indicates he or she has a contract to provide services at a particular rate agreed upon with the insurance company. In this case, you would only be responsible for your portion as indicated by your health care policy. To be on the safe side, talk to your insurance therapist.child2company prior to your appointment and find out your benefits, ie: deductible, copays, coinsuance, and out of pocket max. Also, double check with the therapist to ensure they are still in network with the company. I’ve had a difficult time getting my name off panels that I haven’t been on for over 10 years . . . just because the providers name is on the list, doesn’t ensure they’re still on the panel.

If the therapist is OUT of network, you are responsible to pay their fee in full. The payment still can be applied to your out of network deductible and that can be a benefit as the year progresses. Again, call your insurance company to determine your benefits. You also will want to ask the provider if they will file the claim for you or if you will have to file it yourself.

5. How many years have you worked with foster and adoption children? An effective counselor will have at least two to three years expertise in the area of foster care or adoption. And ideally, 30% to 50% of the therapist’s practice should be with foster or adopted children. For some reason, many therapists do not recognize this as an area of specialization, but it most definitely is! You can go to a general child therapist if there are no specialists in your area, but request that they receive supervision from an experienced practitioner in the area of adoption and foster care.

6. What is the location of your practice? This can be an influential factor for some families especially if there are several choices of therapists in your area, and you take your child or children to multiple specialist appointments in a week.

7. As the parent, will I stay in the room during my child’s sessions? Most therapists are not trained to keep a parent in the therapy room, but I strongly believe this is the best practice. There are several reasons this is the most helpful strategy for adopted and foster families as it offers the parent a chance to see the therapist role model behavior and ways to discuss issues with their child. It also provides healthy attachment opportunities for the parent and child . . . if the parent is not in the room as the therapist is discussing emotional issues, then the therapist is in a position to offer comfort to the child (in lieu of the parent) or they have to leave the session to fetch you and the opportune moment is lost by the time you return.

8. How were you trained to work with adopted and foster kids? There are many acceptable therapist.childtreatment models and some options are: Theraplay, Narrative therapy, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), and Dyadic Developmental Therapy. Research whichever model the therapist uses so that you are familiar with the process and know what to expect in sessions.

9. What additional training do you have that augments your chosen model? It is suggested that therapists have additional training in: individual therapy with children and adults, family therapy, child development, trauma work, Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) just to name a few.

10. Will we meet alone with you in the first session or do we bring our child? A general rule of thumb is parents attend the first session alone unless the child is an adolescent, then the teen may accompany the parents. It is especially important for the child to remain out of the first session so that the parents may inform the therapist of the child’s trauma history. The child does not need to sit and listen to their trauma, as that would be further traumatizing. If the patient is a teen, it’s important that they build a rapport with the therapist from the start and feel the therapist is willing to see “their side” of things and not just their parents “side.”

These last questions are for the family to ask themselves after the first visit or two:

11. Do we feel this therapist is a positive and comfortable fit for our family? In order to discuss emotionally laden subjects, the family must feel comfortable but also be aware of your own difficulties in this area and give the therapist time to get to know you. . . around three to five sessions. If after that time, you’re still not feeling comfortable with the therapist, it’s probably not a good fit.

12. Is the counselor open to our questions about the therapy process? This is hopefully a resounding, “Yes.” A therapist needs to be open to you asking questions about the process as you spend time together.

Don’t forget to click on the FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL button on the top right side of the page to get updated posts and information on upcoming groups for kids, teens, and parents!

book-pictureCarol Lozier is a therapist, author, and blogger specializing in trauma; and adoptive and foster kids, teens, and adults. Ms. Lozier is in private practice in Louisville, KY.


Is This behavior Normal Or Is It Adoption Related?

Is This Behavior Normal Or Is It Adoption Related?
Jodi, mother of 5 year old Sasha, voices a common concern, “I am a parent who wonders if some of the ‘issues’  I see in my child are normal or adoption related; I wonder if therapy would help her? I am a wholehearted believer in the benefits of therapy, but I would love to know whether she would benefit from it or not.”

oneyearoldIn order to distinguish a behavior as “normal” or related to a child’s history parents first must know and define average child behavior. Unless you studied child development in school, it’s helpful to have a resource on hand. One resource I refer to are the books written by child psychologist, Dr. Louise Bates Ames. Dr. Ames was a pioneer in the studies of child development and co-wrote the series, Your One Year Old. Your One-Year-Old: The Fun-Loving, Fussy 12-To 24-Month-Old“>The books begin with age one and end with a book that includes ages ten through fourteen. Each of the books provide information about general characteristics, relationships, routines, tensional outlets and abilities for the age.

childbehaviorDr. Ames also co-authored, Child Behavior; this book points out that every child goes through smooth and bumpy times throughout childhood. In bumpy times children seem distracted, easily upset and fussy, and increasingly negative in their outlook. In smoother times, they seem easy-going, positive, focused and overall easier to get along with in relationships.

So, how do you tell if a behavior is adoption related? In therapy, I am looking for negative beliefs the child holds about him or her self that seem to connect back to a history of abandonment, neglect, or trauma. Some common examples of negative cognitions adopted and foster children hold are:

I’m not safe trusting adults
I’m not going to be taken care of (so i must do it myself)
I am not going to have enough . . . food, clothes, toys, etc.
I am not important
I don’t have a voice or I am not heard by others
I am not loveable, likeable
I am also noticing any behavior that is out of range for normalcy in time and duration particularly for the child and his or her development. For example, if a 5 year old child is having temper tantrums lasting longer than 10 minutes or happening more than once a day, they would be out of the expected average range.

Another sign of adoption, foster, trauma related behavior is a child who appears to be recreating their past. As an example, if the child makes comments that don’t fit with his or her current life, or the child makes comments to you that seem to belong to another person, then those comments may be related to events that occurred before he or she came home. When a child’s remarks are related to his or her adoption, history in foster care, or past trauma, then it is adoption related.

boyandmomLet’s look at an example from Samantha and her 6 year old son, Arthur. Samantha adopted Arthur from a Koran orphanage at 13 months old. They decided to decorate cookies as a Christmas gift for Arthur’s teachers. Because of their busy schedule Samantha waited until the morning before school to decorate them. Arthur asked his mom to promise to decorate the cookies “neatly” and unfortunately, Samantha made that impossible promise. With the slight slip of hand, Samantha messed up the lime green icing on the cookie.

Arthur screamed, “You messed it up; it’s not perfect.” Crying, he turned to his mom and said, “I can’t count on you.” Samantha is a patient and giving mother but doubts herself and her part in this mishap. Blaming herself for Arthur’s upset she confesses, “I shouldn’t have waited right before school; I was rushed. I was trying to make it perfect for her but I went outside the lines.”

Overlooking Arthur’s ghosts from the past, Samantha quickly blames herself for Arthur’s emotional upset, “I’m going to have to make it up to him. I try but I just can’t be perfect.” Undoubtedly, Arthur’s upset is not about the cookies, about his mom being perfect, or whether he can count on her. Clearly, this emotional upset is an issue from the past that needs to be uncovered and addressed in therapy.

**Names have been changed for confidentiality.

Read more on this subject in The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guide at

Click on the FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL button on the top right side of the page to get updated posts and information on upcoming groups for kids, teens, and parents!


Carol Lozier is a therapist, author, and blogger specializing in trauma; and adoptive and foster kids, teens, and adults. Ms. Lozier is in private practice in Louisville, KY.

Is It Secure or Insecure? The Four Attachment Styles

Is It Secure or Insecure? The Four Attachment Styles

Cathy adopted 15 year old, Rachel, from foster care at eight months. Cathy shares in session, “Rachel is on the dance team at school. This week they performed in front of the whole school; Rachel was nervous about it. I saw her come into the gym, and I was worried she wouldn’t find me. I waited while she looked around the room. Finally, our eyes met, and at the same time we pointed at each other. I gave her a thumbs up, and I could see her relax.”

zeditorial-parent-childCathy’s story tells a lot about their secure attachment –Rachel looks to her mom for comfort and safety. In a healthy attachment the child feels safe, emotionally secure and protected; a securely attached child seeks their parent for emotional and physical connection when they are frightened, hurt or if they become separated.

Secure vs. Insecure Attachment: The Four Styles of Attachment

Secure (healthy) attachments develop from available, consistent, and sensitive caregiving while unavailable, inconsistent or insensitive caregiving promotes insecure attachments. Attachment forms from repeated interactions between the child and caregiver. Let’s look at the four attachment styles, along with a story, to demonstrate the insecure styles.

Secure attachment: Secure

Secure attachment develops when a caregiver provides consistent caregiving. In a secure relationship, the child seeks comfort from her caregiver and prefers her over strangers.

stressed-parent-in-front-of-crying-child-on-couch-017a-depressive-symptoms-in-parentsInsecure Attachment: Ambivalent, Avoidant, Disorganized

Ambivalent attachment develops when a caregiver shifts between adequate and preoccupied caregiving. Children in an ambivalent relationship are clingy, and (directly or indirectly) aggressive toward their caregiver often pushing them away and then immediately wanting closeness again.

Avoidant attachment develops when a caregiver is neglectful and rejects the child. Children in an avoidant relationship avoid their caregiver (i.e.: ignore them, refuse touch) and may show a preference to strangers.

Disorganized attachment develops when an inconsistent caregiver wavers between frightening and comforting the child. In a disorganized relationship, children try to control or attempt to be a caretaker to their parent.

Stories to Demonstrate Insecure Styles

Ambivalent Attachment: The Davis Family

Wade and Kimberly, are concerned about their three year old son, Luis. In a therapy session, Kimberly says, “We brought Luis home from Colombia when he was sixteen months old. We thought he had a good foster home; now, we’re not so sure.”

Wade and Kimberly explain Luis’ behaviors, “If I get upset with Luis he says, ‘Mom, your hair looks nice. I like you very much.’ It makes me wonder if he’s manipulating me.” Wade adds, “Another thing we’ve worried about is he runs into his room, hides and screams, ‘Don’t touch me!’ Then, he yells for one of us and as soon as we get there, he says, ‘Get out! Leave me alone!‘

A Child with Avoidant Behaviors: Joe’s Story

Joe is thirteen years old. From birth to age three, he lived with his birth mother, Charlene, who neglected him. Frequently, Charlene left Joe alone in a dirty home and when she was there, she rarely paid attention to him. Joe was removed from her care when Child Protective Services found Joe in the home with a drunken man who was passed out on the floor.

Joe was placed in foster care until age five when he was adopted by Chris and Mandi. Chris and Mandi want to hear Joe’s thoughts and feelings, but by the time he came to their home he had already lost his voice. Unfortunately, Joe keeps his thoughts and feelings to himself.

A Child With Disorganized Behaviors: Alee’s Story

Alee is four years old. Her birth parents, Brandon and Marcy, were both young and mentally ill. They could not remember how to mix her formula, dress her appropriately or manage her illnesses. Furthermore, Brandon would become aggressive when she cried. Marcy confesses that Brandon spanked Alee when he was irritated with her bouts of crying. Finally, Child Protective Services removed Alee from their home.

After two foster placements, Alee was adopted by her paternal aunt and uncle, Ellen and James, at the age of two and a half. Alee is both punitive and caretaking with her mom and dad. When Alee becomes punitive she hits, kicks, spits at her parents and says, “You’re just a stupid mom” and “Get away from me!”

Sometimes, Ellen is tearful which triggers Alee’s caretaking behavior. She scoots over to mom, gently puts her hand on mom’s shoulder and in a encouraging voice says, “Don’t worry, mom. I’ll do better.”

Read more information on attachment styles in The Adoptive & Foster Parent Guidat

Click on the FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL button on the top right side of the page to follow and get updated posts!


Carol Lozier is a therapist, author, and blogger specializing in trauma; and adoptive and foster kids, teens, and adults. Ms. Lozier is in private practice in Louisville, KY.

Upcoming DBT Group for Moms

happinessA parent once told me, “I can only be as happy as my least functioning child.” Trauma creates pain and chaos in a family; parents have to remain sturdy even when the tornado like winds threaten to tip them over.

Stay tuned…the Lord has been giving me a new skill set that I’m going to be teaching you! I am going to be hosting online DBT groups and education for moms.  So you no longer have to be in Louisville Kentucky to be in my group!

On this page, click on the FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL (Right side of the page or Bottom of the page on mobile app) to be on the list of those first notified of  the online group! 

For those of you who don’t know, DBT is a set of skills to teach Emotion Regulation, Distress Tolerance, Mindfulness (staying calm in the moment), and Interpersonal Effectiveness.

book-pictureCarol Lozier is a therapist, author, and blogger specializing in trauma; and adoptive and foster kids, teens, and adults. Ms. Lozier is in private practice in Louisville, KY

Happy Valentines Day <3

Happy Valentines Day, Trauma Mamas and Dads!! 


In celebration of Valentines Day I am giving a copy of my devotional, Devotions of Comfort and Hope for Adoptive & Foster Moms to the hardest, most loving mommas out there! It will be FREE on Amazon starting tomorrow, Wednesday, February 15 through Thursday, February 16th.  Love to you all!! Share with your friends!!!

Don’t forget to click on the the words, “FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL” on the right side of the page to get my updates! 🙂

Carol Lozier is a therapist, author, and blogger specializing in trauma; and adoptive and foster kids, teens, and adults. Ms. Lozier is in private practice in Louisville, KY.