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The last decade has seen a sharp rise in the number of cases of gross child abuse, some resulting in death, by or under the direction of "psychotherapists"--many unlicensed or delicensed, who practice a form of pseudotherapy called Attachment Therapy (AT).
AT is a growing, multi-faceted and as yet underground movement for the treatment of children who pose disciplinary problems to their parents or caregivers, in many cases adoptees or foster children. These children are diagnosed as suffering from Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), a failure to attach with the current caregiver due to early trauma.
The only cure (according to AT) is to "reparent" the child, thereby supposedly obtaining the desired attachment and total obedience of the child. Reparenting methods include eye contact on command, physical restraint, the infliction of pain and terror, and the induction of regression.
Dr. David Waller of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School says of restraint model therapies, "My personal opinion of these so-called therapies is that they are very controlling, manipulative, aggressive, abusive ways of adults behaving toward children, in the guise of treatment." (Waller, 2001) There are many effective treatments for Reactive Attachment Disorder. (James, 1989) Claims of quick cures and anyone promising a "different" child in two weeks are preposterous. Parents and professionals who to claim that traditional therapies do not work on Reactive Attachment Disorder must be reminded that their statement is not supported by scientific evidence and that there is no excuse for torturing a child in the name of therapy.
Candace was treated by Connell Watkins, a nationally prominent attachment therapist and past clinical director for the Attachment Center at Evergreen (ACE) in Colorado, and her associate Julie Ponder. The treatment was carried out in Watkins's home and videotaped. According to trial transcripts, Watkins and Ponder conducted more than four days of "holding therapies." On one day they grabbed or covered Candace's face 138 times, shook or bounced her head 392 times and shouted into her face 133 times. When these actions failed to break her, they put the 68-pound Candace inside a flannel sheet and covered her with sofa pillows, while several adults (with a combined weight of nearly 700 pounds) lay on top of her so that she could be "reborn." Ponder is reported to have told the girl to imagine that she was "a teeny little baby" in the womb, commanding her to "come out head first." In response, Candace screamed, "I can't breathe, I can't do it! ... Somebody's on top of me.... I want to die now! Please! Air!"