Archive for Adoptive Parents

The Holidays Can Be Lovely With Children From Difficult Beginnings

Dear Parents,

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

I just met up with my adult children for a pre-Thanksgiving gathering. I found myself marveling at how they are unfolding.  I mean that.  At 21 and 23, they are adults with lives of their own.  They are happy.  They have interests and friends and places to go and things to do.  They are grown up and I no longer worry about them. And that is the point of this post.

I worried way too much when my children were growing up.  Because they came from difficult beginnings and because their behavior was out of the ordinary, I fretted and worried and over controlled them.  I downright ruined every holiday.  Yes, it was me who ruined them, though at the time I quietly thought it was them ruining it for us.  I was wrong.

What I didn’t know how to do then was accept my children as they were.  I wanted them to be the way I wanted them.  You know, a lot more perfect.  Way less messy.  Seriously better mannered.  Definitely well regulated. I didn’t want their trauma to be impacting my holidays–pure and simple. Every year, every holiday I didn’ want that.  And, every year, every holiday they were who they were–traumatized, attachment reactive children from difficult beginnings.  Who needed to change in this situation?  Who had the most potential for change at the time?  Yep, it was me.

I could have accepted my life and my children. I could have changed my expectations and made the environment trauma-sensitive.  I could have been considerate of what they could tolerate and how long they could tolerate it.  Instead, I tried to fit them into my life the way it was before children and the way I thought other children were able to fit in.  My children weren’t other children; they were actually special with special needs during the holidays.  I could have been more loving and less worried about how they behaved. I could have been more flexible.

I learned a lot about myself while raising my children.  Much of what I learned was not pretty or pleasing to me.  Frankly, I wasn’t personally prepared for traumatized children.  I had to learn to be.  I had to learn to let them be.  I wish I knew then what I know now.

My children are unfolding in their adult lives according to their abilities.  That was always their trajectory.  My advice to my former self (who might resemble your current self): worry less, accept more.  I think that is the definition of love.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Ce

The Attach Place Upcoming Events Calendar

Trust-based Therapeutic Parenting Class for Parents of Children from Difficult Beginnings by Ce Eshelman, LMFT will be held in January 2019, from 10 am to 4 pm.  Childcare provided for an additional fee. CALVCB will reimburse this training. Register on our website!

AUTISM Support Group:  Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public.  Look for new day in January TBD next year.  Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks. This is a  monthly social group for the children; and caregivers will have an opportunity to connect, chat, and chill in a separate space. A donation of $0.00 to $5.00 will be accepted for food and supervision if you are able, but please don’t let that be an attendance barrier because the group is FREE.  ASD kids need a social life and this is a great way to make it happen.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Click Here to join our monthly  Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on December 12, 2018! Open to all parents/caregivers at no cost. Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm at 3336 Bradshaw Road, Ste 175, Sacramento, CA 95827.

GIVE A BOOK OF SUPPORT TO A FELLOW PARENT ON THE ADOPTION JOURNEY: Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT.  Daily inspirational reading for those who sometimes find it hard to keep hope alive. There is hope for healing.  Buy from Amazon or get a discounted copy here.

Disorganization Nation

Dear Parent,

I live with four young adults with extremely disorganized brains.  That, of course, is not the science.  Neuroscience tells us that the executive function–the part of the brain that governs organization, sequencing, cause and effect, logical thinking–of traumatized children has been delayed and in some cases damaged by long term exposure to stress hormone, cortisol dumps.  Whatever the reason, the result is hard to live with.

I thought the following might help some of you with older attachment challenged, trauma-brained children living at home.    They live at home long into adulthood, so prepare yourself. Here are some ways I go about helping everyone participate in the function of the family:

  • Every day there is a chore list waiting with a 24-hour time frame.  There are usually two chores assigned to each person. Some days there are no chores. Yippee.
  • When a chore is not done well, it appears again the next day for a “Try again.” No one gets in trouble over undone chores.  Just a reminder or a little lesson on how to do it better.
  • Bedroom cleaning finds its way onto the chore list, if necessary. And it is always necessary with some.
  • I give them all a full allowance on Friday to support a sense of relationship, family, sharing and cooperation. I don’t nit-pick or take money away for missed chores. I just give them a do-over, training, or reminder for mistakes and accept that they are human.
  • Everyone is responsible for doing their own laundry, and I let them decide how to cooperate around the use of the washer/dryer.  I could organize it for them, but I think they need to learn to collaborate with others.  One day I will not be here and they will still need clean clothes.
  • I talk about cooperation when things lag–like using the last of the toothpaste, TP, paper towels, wash clothes–and encourage them to take initiative to make sure the next person has a supply. No one wants to be on the one sitting down, staring at a bald paper roll with one square of TP.
  • There is a list on the frig when someone uses the last of something, like butter. Everyone writes on the list.  Sometimes frozen waffles gets written four times a week.  I just can’t seem to remember to buy them.
  • We all have established shower times, and exceptions are often made.
  • The main living area is always clean and presentable, so guests are welcome any time without a fuss.
  • I pay for a housekeeper every two weeks to do the deep stuff.  This saves my life. Disorganized brains are not usually deep cleaners, and I have a job.

    The Attach Place

    The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,

Ce

To sign-up for daily emails of Wisdom for Adoptive Parents, click here.

The next 8-hr. Trust-based Parent Training is scheduled for June 18th and 25th from 12 noon to 4 pm.  $200 per two person couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up, email ce@attachplace.com and I will register you.

TIME CHANGE: Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 6pm to 8pm.  Group and childcare are free.

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To buy your very own copy of Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT, go toAmazon.com or www.attachplace.com/drowing-hair-fire.  Please be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon.  Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Spanking Is Anachronistic

Dear Parent,

I’ve been on a bit of a rant recently about stopping the dead end, research uninformed, culturally sanctioned (behind closed doors) childrearing practice of inflicting pain to get a child to learn.  Sorry about the ranting, but I just gotta do it a little more.

Perhaps it would be helpful to talk about the role rage and anger play in the culturally sanctioned (behind closed doors) childrearing practice.  When we hit our children in anger and/or rage, we are abusing them.  That’s the plain truth.  Have I ever hit my child in anger?  Yes, and if you have read my book or my blog, you know my children feared me because I consciously set about putting the “fear of God” into them. Frankly, I thought I needed to do that because they showed very little fear in the face of my best Joan Crawford, Mommy Dearest, hairy eye-ball.  It followed, in my mind, that the lack of parental fear at 3- and 4-years-old would certainly lead to them becoming axe murdering criminals in their later years.  I know many of you fear this. I went so far as to actually fear they would kill me in my sleep.  Fear is cra cra like that.

What I didn’t know then is what I can share with you today.  That lack of fear I saw in their faces was frozen terror from trauma caused by the several parents that came before me. My kids showed up in pure terror, and I didn’t help things by resorting to anger and rage over their lack of respect for my authority.

I am here to tell you that my children were never going to be axe murderers.  That was fearful, catastrophic thinking from the loss of my illusion of control.  My children didn’t need to fear me to do what they were told, thy needed to trust me to do what I asked.  I was so confused in the beginning of raising my very challenged and traumatized children that I couldn’t see how challenged and challenging I was.  I couldn’t think clearly myself, so I guess it makes some kind of twisted sense that I would try to teach my children not to hit by hitting them.

I was expecting ordinary child mischief from my kids and they were dishing out exponential amounts of B-movie ruckus. If I had know that they needed more TLC than the average child; more understanding; nerves of steel on my part; and the patience of a running river to keep the high road, maybe I would have held structure and bathed them in nurture.  Maybe. I’m not sure, but I hope so.

How cra cra do you get in the face of your child’s lack of trust in your parental authority?  If you are calling it defiance, opposition, resistance, evil, calculated, rejecting, soulless, heartless, or hateful, then I know you need help seeing your child for who s/he really is–a traumatized, terrorized, wounded child who needs lots of consistent structure, consistent nurture, and years of patient loving persistence.  If you aren’t giving your child those last three things, you need to get yourself some help to do it. Otherwise, it just gets worse, and no amount of spanking will change their fear into trust.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,

Ce

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Ce Eshelman, LMFT, is an attachment specialist, adoptive mother, stepmother, guardian mother, dog/cat mother, grandmother, not her husband’s mother, and author of:

Available on Amazon.com.

To sign-up for daily Wisdom for Adoptive Parents blog, click here.
The next 8-hr. Trust-based Parent Training course is scheduled for June 18th and 25th from 12 noon to 4 pm.  $200 per two person couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up, email ce@attachplace.com and I will register you.
TIME CHANGE: Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 6pm to 8pm.  Group and childcare are free.

Like Clockwork: A Mother

Dear Parent,

There is nothing more certain than a loving mother.

She rallies when the chips are down and shows up to cheer when the sails are high.

She trudges through dark of night for a gallon of milk, and braves the brutal sun to see the bat swung by her wee-ist tyke.

She holds a steady heart during a good old tantrum, and five minutes later plans a family trip to the ocean per chance a whale spotting might delight.

She bites her tongue when a blistering quip is just right for the battle, and sometimes to her chagrin out it all tumbles.

She can be long suffering in truly ridiculous ways, so she rarely sees anything but the last cold pancake with one bruised berry on her breakfast plate.

She can joke about painful things, though in the quiet of her private space she is raw to the bone.

She laughs and cries like her life depends on it, and frankly sometimes is actually does.

She holds her children when they need love and safety; adoring the former while hating every minute of the latter.

She works and studies and cleans and tidies; and picks up and puts up and keeps right on going toward the things that matter.

She is a perfect blend of Super Girl and Wonder Woman, even though there are times when she feels more like a rag doll who has lost some stuffing.

She is strong and tender; tough and kind.

She means business and is, by her child’s account, uncool in the most inappropriate places.

She endures all things, giving up only occasionally on make-up, hair-cuts, and the latest fashion.

She pulls-off this whole child rearing thing every day because she was made for it, and once in a blue moon she wishes she wasn’t.

She is a contradiction; both symphony and garage band in three-quarter time.

She is amazing and dazzling in her ability to juggle.

She is love in action, rarely resisting the third request for a tickle or a snuggle.

She is terribly flawed and beautifully human for sure.

She is committed and dedicated, as only she can be.

She takes time for herself, when internal combustion nears.

She is on a mission of her own making; on this you can trust.

She falls down and pulls herself back up, because her family needs her.

She has soft eyes to comfort the most fearful heart, and a stink-eyed, hairy-eyeball like nobody’s business.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

She has the laser focus of a Jedi, whenever her child is at stake.

She is love.

She is certainty itself.

She is a mother.

…and mom love matters,

Ce

Ce Eshelman, LMFT is an attachment therapist, adoptive mother, stepmother, guardian mother, dog/cat mother, grandmother, not her husband’s mother, and author of:

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Available on Amazon.com.

More and More I Believe Play Trumps Everything

Dear Parent,

Go ahead, call me a broken record.  At nearly 60-years-old, play is not my first or second language.  I have to work at it, and I am still prone to seriousness.  Boo-hoo.  I know for a fact I myself am happier when playful, but it wasn’t done with me as a child, so I had to learn it as a parent.  This might be true of you, too.  Or, if play does come like rain used to in Spring, then you may be suffering under the misconception that attachment challenged and traumatized children are so naughty that you have to be serious in order for them to know you mean business.  Otherwise, you might think, your children could grow-up into mass murderers or anti-social, ne’er do-wells.  There is true terror in that thinking.

A mean task master, fear often scares the play right out of most parents of adopted children.  While adoptive parents are known to post lively, deliriously happy and grateful comments on Facebook, let this not distract from the underlying realities inside most attachment and trauma challenged relationships–chaos regularly oozes from under backyard fences, around window sills, and through carefully locked exterior doors.  The wounds of childhood abuses last a childhood and adoptive parents are on the front lines doing triage and in the background doing the healing.  Who has time for play?

That is my point really.  You  must make the time to play every day of your child’s life, without exception, because that is the healing language of children.  Play is not just a little thing you do when you can squeeze it in.  It is the whole shebang–the one true natural therapy.

Play is a biological imperative hardwired into children that sustains them while their bodies grow and their brains learn to handle the conflicting feelings produced by the slings and arrows of budding adulthood4.

Parents, if all you do differently is amp up your smiling face, throw on more laughter, and find the silly deep within your core,  you will be applying some of the best naturally occurring salve available for what ails the wounded heart of your child.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,

Ce

To sign-up for daily Wisdom for Adoptive Parents, click here.

The next 8-hr. Trust-based Parent Training is scheduled in June (TBD) from 12 noon to 4 pm.  $200 per two person couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up, email ce@attachplace.com and I will register you.

TIME CHANGE: Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 6pm to 8pm.  Group and childcare are free.

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To buy your very own copy of Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT, go toAmazon.com or www.attachplace.com/drowing-hair-fire.  Please be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon.  Thank you.

High Road Parenting

Dear Parents,

Dan Siegel, MD coined the term “high road parenting” in his book Parenting From the Inside Out–one of my favorites for helping parents understand their mission as parents and how to achieve it.  High road parenting isn’t any different from high road anything.

When one is cut off on the freeway, high road driving is called for–not the middle finger with a side of Mad Max road rage.  When one’s mother-in-law looks sideways at you while referring to today’s slackers, high road son-in-law behavior is ignoring the slight and offering her another piece of cherry pie.  When your partner, under stress, acts a tiny bit “hole-ish,” high road loving is to ask if you can do something to help–instead of “hole-ing” back an insult of greater proportion.  Where is the love, baby?

Taking the high road may seem like being a doormat, and I am not suggesting that at all. It is perfectly fine to kindly take care of yourself.  I am, however, saying that the world is a better place when people are attached to their own humanity and the humanity of others. Relationships are stronger when we treat them with love and respect in the face of adversity.  And parenting is healing when it is served up with a dose of kindness, empathy and sensitivity to the wounded hearts of our traumatized children.

The next time you get to a crossroads during a moment of heightened stress, take a moment; take a breath; and choose to take the higher road.  You and those around you will be grateful for your personal awareness and your dedication to being love in action.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,

Ce

To sign-up for daily Wisdom for Adoptive Parents, click here.

The next 8-hr. Trust-based Parent Training is scheduled in June (TBD) from 12 noon to 4 pm.  $200 per two person couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up, email Ce@attachplace.com and I will register you.

TIME CHANGE: Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 6pm to 8pm.  Group and childcare are free.

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To buy your very own copy of Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT, go toAmazon.com or www.attachplace.com/drowing-hair-fire.  Please be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon.  Thank you.

Never Underestimate Dysregulation

Dear Parents,

I had a therapy session today with an eleven-year-old boy whose dysregulated state looked just like paranoid schizophrenia.  If his parents were not there to tell me he is not always that way, hands down, I would have misdiagnosed him.  He was dysregulated by my miscalculation about his tolerance for role play.  Instead of getting my point (which I genuinely thought he would), he became humiliated and interpreted me as simply mimicking him.  I didn’t mean to humiliate him though, and he couldn’t recover despite my apology.

That is a bad feeling.  I don’t usually use that method to break through a child’s defense and now I remember why.  It sometimes backfires in a big way.  I hope I can gain his trust back.

If you are a parent who is prone to sarcasm, you may have found yourself resorting to mimicry to get your point across to your attachment challenged child. Take a lesson from me, they have tender underbellies and little tolerance for the gut-stabbing feeling of humiliation. The wound can be deep and long lasting.

Make yourself as safe as you possibly can to the tender parts of your defense-protected child. Our children need to trust we will not hurt them.  I will be making great effort to get this young boy’s trust back.  If you have hurt your child, on purpose or by accident, work very hard to re-establish trust and safety by making a sincere apology and taking the high road every chance you get.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,

Ce

To sign-up for daily Wisdom for Adoptive Parents, click here.

The next 8-hr. Trust-based Parent Training is scheduled in June (TBD) from 12 noon to 4 pm.  $200 per two person couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up, email Ce@attachplace.com and I will register you.

TIME CHANGE: Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 6pm to 8pm.  Group and childcare are free.
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Drowning with My Hair on Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents

 

To buy your very own copy of Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT, go to Amazon.com or www.attachplace.com/drowing-hair-fire.  Please be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon.  Thank you.

This Really Is My Life

Dear Parents,

I took my 20-year-old daughter for a psychiatric evaluation today.  I have somehow escaped this for the last two years, since she became an adult.  I offered to pay for an eval outside the Medi-Cal system in order to get a legitimate diagnosis and medication that is not dependent on the amount of money one can pay.  So, today was the day.

In a very short period of time, the psychiatrist leveled one of the diagnoses I knew would be given–Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). In that moment my heart cracked open and my mother blood leaked out onto the floor.  If you are not a therapist, this diagnosis may mean nothing to you. However, the diagnosis is often considered the bane of a therapist’s existence when a person labeled with it walks across the threshold.

I am breaking the therapist code of silence right now, because, as a therapist, I am not supposed to say any of this out loud.  As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure I will be stoned for daring to speak this. Most therapists (though not all) only take one or two people labeled “Borderline” into their practice at a time.  Why is that, you might wonder?  It is because they are so difficult to treat.  BPD person’s are predominantly female and well known for love you/hate you outbursts.  They often burst out of therapy the way attachment challenged children outburst over parenting.

My daughter had love you/hate you outbursts from the day I brought her home at three-years-old.  And, she still does.  Reactive Attachment Disorder grown-up without successful intervention is often called Borderline Personality Disorder in women and Narcissistic Personality Disorder in men.

I want you to know that early, effective intervention is possible.  Healing is possible. You can change the trajectory of your sweet, attachment challenged child.  How?  With consistent, trust-based, brain-based, therapeutic parenting.  That is how.

When my children were young, I wish I knew then what I know now.  I desperately wish this.  Right now, I am pleased my daughter lives with me and I have a chance to help her heal from the horrible wounds of attachment trauma in early childhood.  It is never too late.  Never.  I know this in my bones.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,

Ce

To sign-up for daily Wisdom for Adoptive Parents, click here.

The next 8-hr. Trust-based Parent Training is scheduled for April 23rd and 30th from 12 noon to 4 pm.  $200 per two person couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up, email Jen@attachplace.com and she will register you.

TIME CHANGE: Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 6pm to 8pm.  Group and childcare are free.
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Drowning with My Hair on Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents

To buy your very own copy of Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT, go to Amazon.com or www.attachplace.com/drowing-hair-fire.  Please be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon.  Thank you.

It Was A Sweet Book Party!

Dear Parents,

Many of you were able to make it to the book launch party on Saturday and I was so happy to see your beautiful faces.  I wanted to put pictures of the party in this post, though all you will see are empty rooms, me and only one of my lovely colleagues.

My husband (very quiet, unassuming, introvert) was the DP (designated photographer) for the day.

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At the start I told him he couldn’t take random pictures because there would be some parents here.  He took that to mean he would be taking pictures of food, empty rooms, and me, plus an office mate here or there.  So cute, he is.

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Despite how this picture looks, there was a lovely group of celebrants and I had a wonderful time.  I hope everyone else did, as well. Wish you all could have been here for the cake because it was to die for.

Thank you for all the love and support.

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Jen Nguyen, LMFT,  being the hostess with the mostess; and baby makes two. The quilt in this picture was handmade for me by two incredible, adoptive parents.

Love matters,

Ce

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationship

The next 8 hr. Trust Based Parent Training is scheduled for April 23rd and 30th from 12noon to 4pm.  $200 per couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up email Jen@attachplace.com and she will register you.

TIME CHANGEMonthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 6pm to 8pm.  Group and childcare are free.
To buy your very own copy of Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT, go to Amazon or www.attachplace.com/drowing-hair-fire. Please be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon.  Thank you.

Caught Cookie Handed

 

Dear Parents,

When your child looks at you like their hands are proverbially caught in the cookie jar, take a look at the way you discipline.  As a matter of fact, you might want to re-visit the origin of the word discipline–knowledge (Latin and Old English)  or punishment (Old French). I prefer the Latin root (no offense to the French). The Latin root of disciplining means to teach or create learned followers. Without realizing it, you may be scaring your children when you are correcting, rather than teaching them to be learned thinkers.

For correction or corrective parenting to work to support behavior change, you must have your relationship hat firmly affix to your own prefrontal cortex or you may be instilling fear of you into your child.  Fear of you is just that–fear of you.  Fear creates memory blocking cortisol to your child’s brain, effectively making you mute to your child’s learning center. The negative behavior you were trying to stomp out will persist in one form or another and your child will look caught or in trouble no matter what you are saying.

Be a gentle, sage teacher to your child and s/he will learn to be disciplined from the inside out.  That’s the best way to become a learned person with a solid sense of self in the face of adversities of life.

Love matters,

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Ce

Ce Eshelman, LMFT is the author of Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief for Adoptive Parents and an Attachment Specialist at The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships.

The next 8 hr. Trust Based Parent Training is scheduled for April 23rd and 30th from 12noon to 4pm.  $200 per couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up email Jen@attachplace.com and she will register you.

Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.  Group and childcare are free.

UPCOMING HOLD ME TIGHT WORKSHOP

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​Jennifer Olden, LMFT presents a ​“Hold Me Tight​”​ Couples Workshop at The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships in Sacramento, CA on May 28-29th.  If you are looking to improve your relationship​,​ this workshop will teach you how to create a stronger bond, lessen conflict, and increase trust and intimacy.  Based on Dr. Sue Johnson’s model for couples therapy:  Emotionally Focused Therapy.  Proven effective. Research based. ​Read more and register here.