Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dr. Ronald Federici: Advocates for Children in Therapy

Ronald Steven Federici is often described as “the country’s expert in the neuropsychological evaluation and treatment of children having multi-sensory neurodevelopmental impairments.”

He is best described as a “developmental neuropsychologist,” specializing in the treatment of “institutional autism” (which he also calls “post-traumatic autism,” or “post-institutional autistic syndrome”).

Dr. Federici is licensed by the Virginia Board, and is the holder of a Psy. D. degree.

Dr. Ronald Federici is the author of “Help for the Hopeless Child: A Guide for Families, With Special Discussion for Assessing and Treating the Post-Institutionalized Child” and is the founder of Neuropsychological and Family Practice Associates, in McLean, Virginia.

He has worked with adopted children from Russia, Romania, Ukraine and Belarus. He is also the father to seven adopted children of his own.

Federici is also an outspoken opponent of dangerous practices, such as those resulting in the death of Candace Newmaker. In addition, he has also sought to provide as much assistance as possible to children living in orphanages and other institutions with deplorable conditions.

More information about Dr. Federici and his work can be found at: (Ronald Federici blog) (Ron Federici Blog) (Children in Therapy) (Advocates for Children in Therapy) (Angelina Jolie’s adoptions; Dr. Federici is Angelina Jolie’s adoption consultant)

Arthur Becker-Weidman: Center for Family Development

The Center for Family Development is Western New York's only attachment center specializing in the treatment of adopted and foster families with trauma and attachment disorder. Our professionals have the knowledge, skills, personal experiences, and professional training to help adoptive and foster families with attachment concerns. The Center for family Development has focused much of its efforts on helping adoptive and foster families. The needs of adoptive families are unique and very few professionals understand these families and their special problems. The Center for Family Development was founded by Dr. Arthur Becker-Weidman to provide answers to questions, solutions to problems, and the expert support necessary for families to thrive in these turbulent times.

Dr. Arthur Becker-Weidman and his associates are dedicated to helping adoptive families achieve their potential. All members of the Center For Family Development are licensed, skilled, and highly trained professionals with at least twenty years experience helping families. Arthur Becker-Weidman, CSW-R, PhD. DABPS received his doctorate in Human Development from the University of Maryland, Institute for Child Study. He achieved Diplomate status from the American Board of Psychological Specialties in Child Psychology and Forensic Psychology. He is a member of the American College of Forensic Examiners. Dr. Becker-Weidman has received extensive training in Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, an attachment-based therapy, including with Daniel Hughes, Ph.D., author of Building the Bonds of Attachment and Facilitating Developmental Attachment.

At the Center For Family Development we only begin working with families after completing a thorough assessment. We carefully evaluate the child and the family. Our success rate is now over 95%. Success means that the child has developed the capacity to love and be loved and is functioning at least at about 80% of the level you'd expect for a child that age. See our Research page for the results of our follow-up study.

Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, an attachment-based therapy is an evidence-based treatment for children with Trauma-Attachment Disorders, Reactive Attachment Disorder, and other disorders of attachment that are complicated by severe trauma or histories of maltreatment. Other forms of treatment such as play therapy are ineffective with children who have disorders of attachment and complex post-traumatic-stress-disorder because all these therapies require a trusting relationship between the therapist and child. See our follow-up study in Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, a professional peer-reviewed journal. This demonstrates that Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy is an evidence-based effective treatment for children with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Please see our Informed Consent document for more information.

Parents of attachment disordered children experience a high level of stress and need support and understanding in order to help their children and survive as a family. The Center for Family Development offers a support group which is intended as an opportunity for parents to share parenting strategies, learn about approaches that work, support others, find support, and develop cooperative respite arrangements. This is not a treatment group or therapy.

Heather Forbes LCSW

Heather Forbes LCSW

I was born and raised in Vero Beach, Florida. I grew up with three older brothers and a fraternal twin sister. The best memories of my childhood are going to the beach, riding horses, and visiting with my grandparents.

Yet, apart from these good memories, memories of growing up with little emotional connection with two alcoholic parents and feelings of being "invisible" within a family system are even more prevalent. (And I share this with you because these difficult memories are an important part of who I am today and why I am so passionate about the work that I do). As a child, I found connection and validation through academics and graduated at the top of my class. Following high school, I attended the University of Florida and earned a bachelor's degree in architecture and a master's in construction management.

After working for ten years in the field of architecture, I woke up one morning with this pulling desire to be a parent. Due to numerous health issues and operations in my past (all a result of growing up in a stressful environment), adoption became the way to motherhood. Following countless phone calls and long nights working on paperwork, four months later I found myself in Russia meeting my son, an adorable 2 ½ year old little boy.

This was a major turning point in my life. Motherhood became the most difficult task I had ever undertaken. I had accomplished any goal I set my mind to in the past. Focus, self-discipline, and pure determination had been my tools to success. Yet, in the first six months of motherhood, nothing I had used in the past was working. Nothing-nothing was working. In fact, it was only getting worse.

Out of pure insanity or complete denial, I was in Russia a year and a half later, adopting again! This time I was meeting my daughter, a beautiful 4-year-old little girl. She was completely different, yet in the back of my mind, I kept hearing, "She's too good…there is something very wrong here."

As you can imagine, I had created quite a situation within a very short amount of time. After late nights of research, consultations with "experts," and at least 200 books on attachment and bonding, I was still at a complete loss of how to bring peace into our home.

Late nights of research turned into late nights of curling up on the bathroom floor, crying in a complete state of helplessness. Yes, I've been there on the floor with you, feeling terrified of the future and feeling as if life was no longer worth living!

I decided that since I was doing all this research, I should return to school and change my career path. Looking back, I was simply returning to the environment that I knew in my early years that had sustained me through stress--academia. I earned a master of social work and sought training in the area of attachment and bonding.

After working to first change myself and the interpretation of my children's behaviors, I was then able to parent in a whole new way. It also required intensive healing of my past childhood experiences in order to be able to become emotionally available to my children's pain and fear. I came to realize that if you want to change something in your life, there's only one place to look: inside you. And when you look to make this change, it takes doing it with love.

It took learning to love myself. First, though, it required a true understanding of the essence of love. We cannot give something we don't understand or something we have not yet received. Loving yourself is the key to being able to love others unconditionally, without requirements. This is especially essential to parenting a child with a trauma history who simply does not have the capacity to receive love or reciprocate love due to the intensity of his/her internal pain and fear.

When unconditional love is put into action, it truly is the "cure" to creating peace in the home. It simply takes learning how to put it into action. Traditional parenting techniques are fraught with fear, disguised as love. Shifting your perspective to allow the light of love to overcome the darkness of fear is the only way.

My children are teenagers now and I have a wonderful relationship with both of them (How many parents do you know with teenagers who actually enjoy their company?). My children are more emotionally intelligent than most adults and they understand the dynamics of human interactions beyond their years. Their early experiences of abandonment, abuse, and neglect have been integrated into who they are and they are better individuals today because of their pasts. That's the power of love!

If you are struggling with the effects of trauma in your home, I want this level of healing for you. I am passionate about providing the resources and understanding you need to make your family work for you. It is hard work. It is a journey of commitment and tenacity. Yet, it is what life is about - loving relationships. You aren't living unless you are emotionally attuned to both yourself and to those around you.

I am committed to helping families and changing the false traditional interpretation of how to love and discipline children. There is a way to pull out of the depth of pain that resides in so many families (and perhaps your family). I hope you'll join me on this journey to bring love back into a world that is living in too much fear and pain. Love never fails!