Attachment Regulation and Competency
Achieving recovery from complex trauma involves building new and healthy relationships – both with caregivers and peers. However, these relationships are complicated by the impact of trauma on a young child’s primary attachment system. These systems include the child’s sense of safety and understanding of themselves and their world, as well as a core set of basic developmental skills (Arvidson, 2010). Traumatic experiences can have profound impacts on these essential domains.
attachment regulation and competency, as described in the ARC framework, is a comprehensive treatment approach for children with complex trauma that addresses these critical domains. Treatment is built from four key areas of study: normative childhood development, traumatic stress, attachment, and risk/resilience. Using these broad areas as the foundation, the ARC framework identifies important childhood skills and competencies that are routinely shown to be negatively affected by trauma and attachment disruptions, and which, when addressed, predict resilient outcomes.
Attachment Regulation Techniques for Improving Emotional Well-being
For a child to develop a sense of safety and understanding of themselves and their environment, they must have a stable relationship with one or more adult care providers. Caregivers’ capacity to respond consistently and appropriately to a child’s behavior is an integral aspect of this, including their ability to manage their own emotional responses. Often, trauma-related behaviors challenge caregivers’ regulatory capacities and create a cycle of disregulation in which a child’s adaptive response is perceived as an uncontrollable threat to their safety.
Additionally, children must learn to self-regulate their physiological and emotional states through play – either by engaging in healthy narrative or free play, or regulating their responses through sensory integration activities. Frequently, children in care have limited access to safe, structured play with the adults that are available to them.