Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Smith, Laurie


This study aimed to identify the challenges professional care providers face when working with foster youth experiencing Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). Using a qualitative data approach, the researchers interviewed ten professional care providers and performed a thematic analysis of their responses regarding clients with RAD. The study found that professional care providers find this diagnosis to be rare and have a unique set of challenges. The challenges include identifying the disorder and its origins, working with clients who have extreme mood changes, the labeling and stigma that comes with the diagnosis, building rapport and trust, and the inconsistency the children experience. The participants were able to share unique experiences and specific challenges when working with this particular population. The researchers recommend policy changes to address issues of consistence, specialized training for professionals working with at risk communities, and for agencies (i.e. DCFS, schools) to work with one another. Although this study provides valuable information, it is important to remember that this study does not represent all professional care provider’s thoughts on RAD.

Included in

Social Work Commons