2011 Superheroes for Washington families: Rebecca Mallos
When families with adopted children struggle, traditional therapy rarely works. Rebecca Mallos, a founder of Attachment and Trauma Specialists, heals these families by helping adoptive parents become a trusted safety net.
“Parents are desperate by the time they get to us,” says Mallos, who usually sees families after they have tried several other therapists. “They feel like nobody else understands.”
She describes herself as a facilitator, rather than a fixer of children who often come from backgrounds of abuse or neglect. Traditional therapy involves treating the child alone, and that approach can fail to forge a bond between the child and adoptive parents.
For client Ann Lokey, whose daughter was “headed down a path of destruction” when she came to Mallos, traditional therapy had been a “road map to nowhere.” Instead, Mallos taught the family therapeutic parenting, which brings parents into the fold. “It not only touched my child’s grief, but included me, so that I could become the soft spot for my daughter to land in,” says Lokey.
With more than 30 years of experience, Mallos often treats families off and on throughout the child’s life. She is reality oriented, says Lokey, not allowing a child to fantasize about who the birth parents are. “She helps them understand that this bad thing happened to them before, but that they can move on and be a part of a loving family.” — HB
Get to know Rebecca Mallos...
Personal heroes: The children I work with. They are very brave to risk trusting.
Pet peeve: Seeing parents on an outing, like at the zoo where I have volunteered, and rather than interact with their children, they are on the cell phone.
Best recent read: The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. It’s about the migration of rural African-Americans in the South to the northern and western states. It’s told from the personal experience of people who made that migration. Very interesting! Reminds me of the children I work with. They migrate as well.
Best way to get kids involved in giving back: I believe it has to begin very early and be something the family does together and is a family expectation, just like any other expectation. I did this with my children when they were growing up, and now, as adults, they all give to their communities in some way, because it is just part of who they are.
Up Next: Mike Heinisch, Kent Youth and Family Services >>
Flip ahead to meet the rest of our 2011 Superheroes:
Karen Bryant, The Seattle Storm
Flip back to see previous 2011 Superheroes:
Ron Sher, creator of local retail centers
Dr. Beth Harvey, pediatrician
Karen Kodama, Seattle Public Schools
Estela Ortega and Roberto Maestas, El Centro De La Raza
Shandra Benito, Reach Out
Michael Schindler, Operation Military Family
Sebrena and Rena Mateja Burr, Wellspring Family Services
Dan Savage, It Gets Better Project
2011 Superheroes: Home