Also known as Holding Therapy, Compression Therapy, Rage Reduction, Coercive Restraint Therapy, CRT Parenting, AT Parenting (formerly ‘Nancy Thomas Parenting’), Therapeutic Parenting, Therapeutic Foster Parenting, Rebirthing, and ‘Cuddletime’.
This page was last updated on 15th December 2011.
Detailed summaries of known cases: Jackson Four; Cassandra Killpack; Hansen Siblings; Loan Lynn Marr; Viktor Alexander Matthey; Candace Elizabeth Newmaker; Roxanne Lee Heiser; Roberta Evers; David Alexander Polreis; Krystal Ann Tibbets; Lucas Ciambrone; S. M. Abbott; Andrea Swenson; and Jeannie Warren. (Advocates for Children in Therapy website)
Training tapes and "therapy" sessions on YouTube courtesy of an Attachment Therapy survivor.
Includes the Reactive Attachment Disorder [RAD] diagnosis, a look at the 'attachment community', and gives details of the founders and proponents of Attachment Therapy including Robert Zaslow, Foster Cline, Michael Orlans, Neil Feinberg, and Larry VanBloem. Also contains reports of child fatalities. Article by Shannon-Bridget Maloney (Quackwatch)
Advocates for Children in Therapy is an educational and public advocacy organisation dedicated to halting the dangerous cruelty done to children by Attachment Therapy (AT), its associated Therapeutic Parenting practices, and other unvalidated, pseudoscientific interventions. Includes articles on what makes a proponent of AT, the lack of evidence for AT (including a look at the Myeroff study, the Becker-Weidman study, and Levy and Orlans's study), AT versus conventional child psychotherapies, and critics of AT.
Invisible England (8th December 2011) [3:36 mins]
“We all know that misguided celebrities, such as Jenny McCarthy, Oprah, Prince Charles, and Arianna Huffington, pose considerable public health threats. Few know that arguably the most vile form of quackery has been getting the thumbs up from a celebrity hailing from the most rarified heights of power and influence — Representative Patricia Schroeder (D-CO, 1973-1997). The practice I’m referring to is ‘Rage Reduction’. This practice, popular for decades in adoption and foster care circles, claims to help children develop the capacity to love and become attached to their new caregivers. Practitioners believe these children suffer from ‘Attachment Disorder’ because of early abuse and neglect. Typical of quackery, this unrecognized diagnosis consists of an absurdly long catch-all list of signs used to ensnare any child. (Even good behavior is interpreted as sneaky manipulation of parents.)
In a Rage Reduction therapy session, a child is restrained by a therapist – usually a licensed psychologist or social worker – plus one or more assistants. The therapist ‘activates’ a child by yelling, belittling, threatening, relentlessly tickling, bouncing the child’s head, covering his mouth, and painfully knuckling the child’s rib cage and sternum. Such sessions typically go on for two or more hours, until the child is exhausted from struggling and becomes, as one psychologist observed, ‘a whimpering little puddle’. Children, even teenagers, are then swaddled and given a baby bottle by their adopted mother for ‘bonding time’.
The rationale for Rage Reduction consists of several thoroughly discredited notions: the need to regress children back to infancy so that ‘repressed’ memories of abuse can be recovered and repressed ‘infantile anger’’ can be drained out through ‘catharsis’.
There is no reliable evidence that indicates that Rage Reduction would be anything but harmful. To critics, Rage Reduction is indistinguishable from literal torture, i.e. the infliction of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, for a purpose. The purpose here is apparently not the creation of loving relationships, but rather grinding down children until they are grateful and unquestioningly obedient. Think ‘Stepford Children’.”
Linda Rosa, RN, Science Based Medicine (8th October 2010)
Advocates for Children in Therapy (ACT) has been harassed by eight Attachment Therapists/Parenting Specialists who have serially filed bogus DMCA complaints. Essentially, these "therapists" objected to being quoted with full citations. ACT was automatically bounced by several ISPs who wanted nothing to do with any sort of complaint. It finally found a non-profit ISP -- Project DoD -- mainly concerned with First Amendment issues. When faced with an ISP that followed DMCA provisions, the Attachment Therapists started to harass Project DoD. Project DoD's Chris Mooney has written up what happened next in this link. (1st January 2010)
"The ABC program 20/20 did the public no service in its recent myopic support of pseudoscience. Aired in late November, 2008, the presentation "The Toughest Call" emphasized common "alternative" approaches to adoption issues, rather than citing excellent empirical research from investigators such as Sir Michael Rutter…..Like "Attachment Therapists", "The Toughest Call" put forward the unsubstantiated claim that adopted children need to be treated with systematic harsh, humiliating, and potentially dangerous disciplinary practices, a view contrary to a report of a task force of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children…..When attention was called to the program's problems, rather than attempting to correct the misinformation they had provided to the public, ABC staff circled the wagons and prepared a response that employed propagandistic arguments." Critical commentary by Jean Mercer, Ph.D., author of "Understanding Attachment" and "Child Development: Myths and Misunderstandings." James Randi Educational Foundation Swift blog (25th January 2009)
Beyond attachment theory and therapy: Towards sensitive and evidence-based interventions with foster and adoptive families in distress
Child & Family Social Work (November 2005)
"CRT [Coercive Restraint Therapy] is defined as a mental health intervention involving physical restraint and is used in adoptive or foster families with the intention of increasing emotional attachment to parents. Coercive restraint therapy parenting (CRTP) is a set of child care practices adjuvant to CRT. CRT and CRTP have been associated with child deaths and poor growth. Examination of the CRT literature shows a conflict with accepted practice, an unusual theoretic basis, and an absence of empirical support. Nevertheless, CRT appears to be increasing in popularity. This article discusses possible reasons for the increase, and offers suggestions for professional responses to the CRT problem." By Jean Mercer, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Richard Stockton College, Pomona, New Jersey, USA (9th August 2005) [pdf]
"There is no scientific evidence that such coercive interventions are effective. The growing number of deaths associated with these practices demonstrates their danger. These techniques also violate the fundamental human rights of the children subjected to them. The AACAP therefore urges that these coercive, dangerous and ineffective practices be discontinued." Quoted from the Policy Statement of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (November 2003) [Developed by the Child Abuse and Neglect Committee]
"What is clear is that a variety of so-called 'attachment therapies' should be avoided. These treatments are often provided to children or adolescents with a history of early deprivation or maltreatment and a clinical picture characterized by 'psychopathic qualities', such as shallow or fake emotions, superficial connections to others, lack of remorse, and failures of empathy. Non-contingently coercive therapies, including 'compression holding therapies', 'rebirthing therapies', or promotion of regression for 're-attachment', have no empirical support for efficacy and have been associated with serious harm, including death." Charles H. Zeanah, MD, Developmental and Behavioural News, American Academy of Pediatrics (Autumn 2003)
"Despite multiple cases of injury and/or actual deaths of children treated with these so-called therapy techniques, a few therapists continue to advocate their use. The Utah Psychological Association, as well as number of other professional organizations, maintains that there is no scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of such interventions…there is strong clinical consensus that coercive therapy techniques are, in fact, contraindicated and potentially dangerous, constituting a form of physical and/or emotional child abuse." Official Position Statement of the Utah Psychological Association (2003) [pdf]
Includes AT practices (Holding Therapy, Therapeutic Foster Parenting, and Rebirthing), AT theory, conceptual problems for empirical validation (information and consent, public verifiability, and outcome measures), and research on AT including the development of, and the validity issues, regarding the Randolph Attachment Disorder Questionnaire [RADQ]. Article by Jean Mercer, Ph.D., Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice (Fall-Winter 2002)
Attachment therapy using deliberate restraint: an object lesson on the identification of unvalidated treatments
Concludes: "Attachment therapy has many characteristics associated with warning signals of an unvalidated treatment. Mental health professionals have responsibilities to educate individuals and the community about unvalidated treatments such as attachment therapy and to work toward legislation and policy change to make such treatments unavailable." J. Mercer, Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing (July-September 2001)
Comprehensive information about therapies that subject children to mental and physical abuse. This site contains video clips of children apparently being tortured by therapists doing 'holding therapy'. It also includes case reports about children who were killed by such therapy.
Review of the book 'Attachment Therapy on Trial: The Torture and Death of Candace Newmaker' by Jean Mercer Larry Sarner and Linda Rosa. Reviewed by Katherine Alexa Fowler Ph.D. (The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice)
Blog spot by Jean Mercer, Ph.D. professor emerita, Richard Stockton College, Pomona, New Jersey, USA.