Colorado Life Coach: A Special Message to Mental Health Workers

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Foster Care

So many of us learned about these issues in graduate school. We heard about Attachment Theory. We know more than most of society about these issues, because we’ve read textbooks, written research papers, and studied other people’s research.

And yet, there are some who know much more about this than most of us ever will.


My name is Carrie O’Toole. I earned a degree in Human Services specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy 2 years ago. More importantly, I’m an adoptive mom, twice. Our family consists of a son we adopted (now 21) at birth, followed by a birth daughter. We then adopted our 3 1/2 year old son from a Vietnamese orphanage. This adoption went horribly awry.

Before the adoptions, we had some training on attachment, but nothing prepared us for life with our traumatized son. I drove an hour every week for 4 years to see an attachment therapist. We paid him to come to our home on 2 separate occasions. I looked for therapists closer to home, and found myself paying to explain attachment to different counselors. Just because they know about attachment, does not mean they understand how to provide help to these wounded children or their parents.

I attended an attachment training where I was the only non-therapist in the room. They all knew I was the mom of a child with RAD. I learned much, but found it interesting that most of my time was spent answering questions: “Do they really do this?” “What’s it really like?” “How does your daily life look?”

Here is my plea to you: If you are not specifically trained in attachment and trauma, please refer these parents to other therapists.

So many do not understand.

These children do not trust. The counseling relationship is based on trust. These children will manipulate the best therapists, blame the mother, and life at home will actually get worse. Individual therapy does not work with these children. It is a family issue, and needs to be dealt with in terms of family.

We parented our son for 8 years, and his attachment to us never developed. After feeling crazy, blamed, frustrated, unheard, misunderstood, powerless, guilty, and unable to parent my own child, we made the unbelievably difficult decision to relinquish our son to another family.

Since then I earned my degree, started a ministry, developed a group intensive to help others understand their relationship styles and become more secure (based on Attachment Theory) and wrote a book.

Relinquished: When Love Means Letting Go is my memoir with a message.

Would you please read it? Learn what these parents and children experience. Learn what works and what doesn’t. Pass it on to your therapist friends and coworkers. Much needs to be done to bring awareness to the impact of traumatized children, what happens if they don’t attach (develop consciences, empathy, etc), and how to help these families.

Check out the trailer.

This important book will be available on Amazon on Mother’s Day, or preorder here.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole, M.A.




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Contact Carrie O’Toole to schedule a confidential telephone call or appointment for coaching.