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Offline Ursus

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Be Wary of Attachment Therapy
« on: March 07, 2011, 10:16:52 AM »
This excellent article from QuackWatch, which I'm sure a good number of folk are already aware of, summarizes a lot of pertinent background on Attachment Therapy and the people who practice it:

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Be Wary of Attachment Therapy

Shannon-Bridget Maloney

An epidemic of unfounded, untested, and unregulated therapies is being foisted on the youngest members of our society. Children, most of them adopted, are being subjected to a form of "therapy" that several state licensing boards have deemed grossly negligent. Some states have had cases in criminal and civil courts against the practitioners. Therapists have been fined, sanctioned, and even sent to prison for their treatment of children. "Attachment therapy" (AT), as the practitioners call their trade, has a frightening history, a devastating present, and, if legislatures and mental health licensing boards don't get more involved, a deadly future.

The "Reactive Attachment Disorder" Diagnosis

Mainstream mental health sources state that children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) have difficulty or are unable to form attachments in early life. The disorder may manifest itself through indiscriminant attachments, overfriendliness, or withdrawal from others. (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV, 1994.) However, self-proclaimed "attachment therapists" claim that the disorder has many characteristics that DSM-IV omits. The Institute for Attachment and Child Development (formerly the Attachment Center at Evergreen), for example, states:

    Children who do not have healthy attachments with a loving caregiver...

    • Do not trust caregivers or adults in authority.
      [li]Have extreme control problems, manifested in covertly manipulative or overtly hostile ways.
    • Do not develop a moral foundation: no empathy, no remorse, no conscience, no compassion for others.
    • Lack the ability to give and receive genuine affection or love.
    • Resist all efforts to nurture or guide them.
    • Lack cause and effect thinking.
    • Act out negatively, provoking anger in others.
    • Lie, steal, cheat, manipulate.
    • Are destructive, cruel, argumentative and hostile.
    • Lack self-control -- are impulsive.
    • Are superficially charming and engaging. (Institute for Attachment, 2003)

These "diagnostic criteria" set a child up for the roller coaster that is attachment therapy. Phrases such as, "superficially charming and engaging" are used to nullify any positive relations the child has with others as being unreal and manipulative. "Lack the ability to give and receive genuine affection or love" allows another (in most cases parent or therapist) to determine what genuine affection and love are, completely undermining the child's ability to recognize and/or exhibit such emotions. Notice, too, that the child's acting out is said to provoke "anger in others." The theory claims that on one hand the child is out-of-control and unable to be responsible for him or herself and on the other hand the child is responsible for the feelings and actions of the caretakers. Thus instead of investigating the caretakers' role in family discord, ATs blame the adults' feelings on the child placed in their care. The Institute for Attachment also lists parental characteristics that may be used to help diagnose the child:

    • Feel isolated and depressed.
      [li]Feel frustrated and stressed.
    • Are hypervigilant, agitated, have difficulty concentrating.
    • Are confused, puzzled, obsessed with finding answers.
    • Feel blamed by family, friends, and professionals.
    • Feel helpless, hopeless, and angry.
    • Feel that problems are minimized by the helping profession." (Institute for Attachment, 2003)

Nancy Thomas, a "therapeutic parenting specialist" who is the leading proponent of attachment disorder parenting methods, states that a well-adjusted child should do things, "quick and snappy and right the first time." The child should also be "fun to be around." (Thomas, 2000) Thomas seems to feel that a healthy child is one who makes parents happy, not one who experiences life and grows through those experiences.

Attachment Therapy

Attachment therapy has four core characteristics that clash with generally accepted principles of psychological practice.

  • The belief that the child must express rage that is within himself in order to improve. AT holds that the negative emotions of a child must be "released" in order for a child to function "normally." Gail Trenberth, founder of a national support group says, "They [children with RAD] won't learn to love until they can release that anger and helplessness and hopelessness that came from their early experiences." (Crowder, 2000) Interestingly, these same practitioners do not caution their patients against excessive happiness in fear that they may "run out" of joy. (Mercer, 2003)
  • Informed consent, as used in AT, is a mockery of the term as used elsewhere. Ordinarily, when patients consent to treatment they can stop it if they change their minds. But in AT circles, if the patient asks for the treatment to stop, the therapists interpret this as resistance for which the level of intervention must be increased.
  • While one could argue very persuasively that touch (such a hand on a shoulder, a brief hug) may be therapeutic, AT practitioners take the use of touch to new levels. In one case outlined in his book, Ken Magid tells of a young child being forced to undergo a three-and-one-half-hour session which included six "experienced body holders." (Magid, 1987)
  • AT practitioners regularly tell children what they are feeling, based on the therapist's beliefs rather than those of the child. Indeed, a parent whose child was treated at the Evergreen clinic of Foster Cline reported: "What we saw with Tina is they went to the rage, telling her why she was feeling the rage." (Oprah Winfrey, 1988)

AT practices have not varied much during the past 25 years. Its practitioners routinely use restraint and physical and psychological abuse to seek their desired results. Sessions of Z-process, holding therapy, and rage reduction have been noted to last as long as 12 hours per session. (Magid, 1987, State of California, 1973) In its most basic form, the child is placed lying across a couch on the therapist's lap with his right arm pinned behind the therapist and left arm held by a "holder." Additional holders restrict the child's legs. The child is then asked, "Who is the boss?" This is supposed to encourage the child to understand that he or she is not in control. The therapist then goes on to provoke the child to rage by using "rib cage stimulation" (e.g. tickling, pinching, knuckling). (Magid, 1987 and Cline, 1992) The child invariably demands and/or pleads for the treatment to end, which is interpreted as resistance. In one case, the therapist began by telling the client to resist and then harassed the client until the resistance stops. (Magid, 1987) The child is in a "catch 22," facing physical and/or mental pain no matter what he does.

The therapist continues the session by bringing up behavioral issues of the child. The therapist may refer to behavior the child denies, such as fire-setting. However, the child in these settings is always considered to be deceptive and manipulative. If the child denies the behavior, the therapist applies more physical and emotional stimuli, such as such as swearing, screaming in child's face, and grabbing child's jaw. (State of Colorado, 1995, State of California 1973, Lowe, 2001 a) If the child agrees to the behavior, he or she must do so in a way that "convinces" the therapist that the responses are honest. If the therapist is not convinced, the "stimulation" continues.

Ironically, the session ends with the therapist hugging the client and congratulating him or her on their "good work." (Magid, 1987, Cline, 1992) It is easy to see how such treatment could lead a child to develop not a healthy bond built on love and respect, but rather a fearful one built on pain and a desire to survive.

In addition to these practices, AT has rarely, if ever, been subjected to pure scientific evaluation and peer review. What little "research" is available on the subject is usually done "in house" and is scientifically questionable. (Mercer, 2003)

The "Attachment Community"

Psychologist Ken Magid states, "For some it is not difficult to see how holding therapy could be controversial. Some uninitiated observers viewing this therapy for the first time might think holding a screaming child against his will is barbaric." (Magid, 1987) Magid's use of the term "uninitiated" speaks volumes.

It has been estimated that 500 ATs practice in in the United States.(Graham, 2001) Gaining "membership" in the "attachment community" is a cult-like brainwashing process. Parents come to the practitioners frustrated and exhausted. In addition to not being the instant happy family they expected, adoption is proving to be hard work. The child they adopted is acting out and, at times, hurting themselves and others. Some parents have gone from therapist to therapist in hope of finding a quick fix. Some parents are frustrated with therapists who want to explore problems in the home because they insist that there were no problems before the child. arrived. (Institute for Attachment, 2003)

In the attachment community, parents are told (a) that things are not their fault, (b) the only effective treatment for RAD is AT, and (c) that their child is terribly sick and, if untreated could go on to be the next Ted Bundy. (Magid, 1987 and ADSG 2003) One parent, in quoting a therapist at the Youth Behavior Program, stated, "One of the greatest things that happened recently, was the time when we were sitting with the therapist that now has our daughter and he was in a session with other therapists working with us, and he says, 'What we have here basically is a healthy family and a sick child.'" (Oprah Winfrey, 1988) While no mainstream, modern psychological model holds that humans can live completely unaffected by environment, it did make that particular parent feel better. The parent went on to say, "It was like the load of the world had been taken off our backs because all this time thinking it was us." (Oprah Winfrey,1988)

ATs prey on adopted and foster children. Some claim that up to 90% of adopted children have RAD. (Reed, 2001) Some therapists go so far as to advertise a 75-80% "effectiveness" rate, a claim unheard of in mainstream psychological circles. (Institute for Attachment, 2003) Some ATs offer workshops and claim to be specialists in "adoption issues," which places them in contact with their target audience. Unsuspecting families seeking professional assistance in "doing" adoption "right" can easily fall into their trap. Many children who have already suffered a terrible loss in their lifetime become the target of a lucrative scheme that is polluting the mental help marketplace.

Mainstream therapists who criticize AT may illicit from parents a belief that the therapist is not well-trained in AT and a fear that the therapist is the enemy and will report that parent to Child Protective Services.

The attachment community has several people they generally regard as "experts." Parents are told they should be certain their child's therapist is aware of, ideally trained by and, if very fortunate, perhaps they can even get their child a coveted appointment with one of them personally.

    Robert Zaslow, who died in 2001, is the often forgotten Father of American Attachment Therapy. It was his creation, the "Z-Process" that gave roots to rage reduction therapy, holding therapy and the like. The attachment community makes light of findings against Zaslow, who was successfully sued in 1972 by one of his adult clients for a rage reduction session that didn't work. As a result, he lost his license to practice psychology in California, but he continued to teach the therapy he developed. Zaslow will probably be seen someday as a great pioneer who pushed back the frontiers for treating severely disturbed children." (Magid, 1987) Documents from the California State Board of Medical Examiners make no reference to a lawsuit over "a session" that "didn't work." They do, however, describe a patient restrained on her back for 10-12 consecutive hours by Zaslow and many (10-12) unlicensed, unregistered "assistants." The patient was not only physically injured by the treatment but was also choked when Zaslow instructed his assistants to put their fingers in her mouth and press down on her tongue and again when he instructed them to pour water into her mouth as she was screaming. Zaslow also refused to stop treatment when asked by the patient to do so. (Before the State Board of Medical Examiners, State of California, 1973)[/list]
      Foster Cline has been dubbed the founder and pioneer in Attachment Therapy by many. When Zaslow lost his license in California, he fled to Colorado and Cline met him there. Cline founded the Youth Behavior Program in Evergreen, Colorado, which later changed its name to The Attachment Center at Evergreen and is in the process of changing its name again to "Institute for Attachment and Child Development." He also was a founding member of ATTACh, the grassroots professional organization of choice for Attachment Therapists. Foster Cline has lined his pockets with money from parents, insurance agencies and school districts who use his Love and Logic discipline methods. Not surprisingly however, there is a dark side. In 1995 Cline was charged with various breaches of professional conduct by the Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners. The charges were related to Cline's supervision of Connell Watkins and Michael Orlans in their treatment of a minor child, "T.B." Cline claims that the child recanted his complaint soon after making it, (Cline, personal communication, 2001) Despite this claim, the case history of the complaint states:

        Respondent admits and agrees that in 1988, patient T.B. and other patients diagnosed with severe attachment disorders received Rage Reduction Therapy at Evergreen Consultants in Human Behavior in Evergreen, Colorado. This therapy was provided in part by one or more mental health professionals working under the supervision of Respondent, and it included averse physical and/or verbal stimulation for the purpose of releasing rage in the patient that aroused from early childhood abandonment, sexual abuse, and the failure to bond in early childhood development." (Before the State of Colorado, 1995)
      The decision of the board to pursue sanctions against Cline were made based upon issues of his own admission and upon the Board's examination of a video tape of the treatment of minor child, T.B., not upon the recanted story of a child. The matter was settled with Cline accepting a compromise and settlement which included a letter of admonition and his agreement that he would no longer treat anyone or supervise the treatment of anyone with therapies that involve, "averse physical stimulation or verbal abuse as depicted in the video tape relating to the treatment of T.B." (Before the State of Colorado, 1995)[/list]
        Michael Orlans has practiced in Evergreen, Colorado for decades. At times he has been licensed, at times not. He was the second therapist under supervision of Cline in the T.B. case. Apparently in reference to the case he claims that he was charged with child abuse by a boy who "beat himself" with rocks and that the charges were later dropped. (Crowder, 2000) He currently is practicing in Evergreen Colorado and writing articles and books on attachment issues.[/list]
          Neil Feinberg is a licensed Social Worker in the State of Colorado whose name is mentioned in the informal "Who's Who" of AT. Feinberg was found, (2000) to have failed to report child abuse within generally accepted standards of practice and has a stipulation against his license for restricted practice. Feinberg also has a previous disciplinary record. (Before the State Board of Social Work Examiners, State of Colorado, 2000)[/list]
            Larry VanBloem practices outside of Salt Lake City at the Cascade Center. He and his associate Jeannie Murdock Gwilliam are facing charges of gross incompetence and gross negligence before Utah's State Department of Professional Licensing. The petition to the board states that VanBloem uses "compression holding therapy" in which he lies on top of the child and "uses his body weight to compress the child client's chest and, thereby, to restrict the child's breathing, promote fear and induce "belly breathing" and that "children attempt to resist these procedures by kicking, sobbing,, screaming and biting." (Petition, 2002)[/list]

            ATs also mobilize guilt and fear to make it difficult for parents to remove their children from therapy. A California adoption advocate tells of a time in the mid 1990s when she sought help from Connell Watkins for the child of a friend: "Watkins called the boy 'stupid,' wrapped him in blankets 'like a burrito,' and told his mother to yell at him. He wet his pants, but Watkins wouldn't stop, even when the mother begged to end the session. Watkins lashed out saying, 'Do you want to bond with him or not?'" (Crowder, 2001)

            Death and Denial

            ATs have been implicated in the deaths of at least four children. The most publicized case is that 10-year-old Candace Newmaker, who died in the care of Watkins, Julie Ponder, Brita St. Clair, and Jack McDaniel. The coroner listed the cause of death as asphyxiation brought about by a bizarre plan to re-enact the birth process so that Candace could be "reborn" to her adoptive mother, Jean Newmaker. (Mercer, 2003) Candace was wrapped tightly in a flannel sheet and sofa cushions were placed around her. Over a 70-minute period, five adults pushed on her, encouraged her to be "reborn," and told her to "go ahead and die." For the last 45 minutes, the only sounds coming from the child were whimpering and panting. During the final 20 minutes, she made no sound. (Siegel, 2001) During the trial, many hours of videotaped therapy sessions where shown. In addition to the "standard" holding or rage reduction therapy, Candace received "compression therapy" in which her 195-pound mother laid on top of her in a face-to-face position telling Candace that she would be going home without her daughter if Candace did not change, licking her daughter in the face and otherwise demeaning and frightening her. (Lowe, 2001a) In one session, Watkins brought in a local woman to cut off Candace's long hair. Candace had not been told that this would be happening, and when she asked about it was told that it was to make it easier for her mother to take care of her. The woman cutting her hair also announced that, perhaps she would come back and cut off all of her hair and tattoo her head, again, if the girl did not comply with Watkins. (Lowe, 2001b) Convicted of "reckless child abuse" and three other charges, Watkins is currently serving a 16-year prison sentence. Watkins is referred to by her maiden name (Cooil) in an autobiography written by Nancy Thomas, whom she mentored. (Mercer, personal communication, 2003)

            Referring to Candace, another "expert," Dr. John Dicke, clinical director of the Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Institute in Colorado stated:

              "In many ways
            [Candace] was 'the devil' that we are afraid of in all of us. She was destined for a life of misery and perhaps drug abuse, living on the streets or in prison. In five to six years, she might have been prosecuted by the same district attorney who convicted Watkins and Ponder. Instead of homicide, perhaps they should have been charged with defiling a corpse, for, tragically, Candace Newmaker's soul died the day her unable mother cast her aside." (Reed, 2001)

            In addition to the troubling statements Dicke made about Candace Newmaker's torture and death, he seems to venture into another area of expertise he may or may not be trained in. The concept of a human soul is a theological, not a scientific one. It is impossible, in a strictly Christian frame of reference, to claim that a child's soul has died. (Maloney, 2001) In December 2001, the Colorado State Board of Psychologist Examiners issued a stipulation and order temporarily barring Dicke from using several disputed practices in treating children.[/list]

            Krystal Tibbets was 3 years old when she died in 1995 when adoptive father followed the advice of the family's AT. "This is a violent therapy. It is abuse," said Donald Tibbets of Midvale, who spent time in prison for killing the child. "We laid on top of Krystal from head to toe," Tibbets said. "By the time I discovered she had quit breathing, it was too late." Tibbets was accused of pressing his fist into his daughter's abdomen and putting his weight against her chest. Tibbets said he was instructed by therapist Larry Van Bloem of the Cascade Center, Orem. Van Bloem, a social worker accused by state licensing officials of practicing an extreme form of holding therapy, insisted his methods were gentle." (Foy, 2003)

            David Polreis Jr. was 2 years old when he died. David's Mother was charged in his death and the defense argued that,

              "David spent his infancy severely neglected in a Russian orphanage, he suffered from a psychological syndrome called "attachment disorder" and inflicted upon himself the terrible bruising found on his buttocks, genitals, belly, and thighs." He died, the defense will contend, of natural causes. (Horn, 2001)
            David was being seen by attachment therapists at the time of his death. Mourners at his funeral were asked to contribute to the attachment center at Evergreen. The attachment community watched the case with baited breath and rallied to support the parents in what "could have happened to any of us." (Horn, 2001)

            Cassandra Killpack died at age 4 when her adoptive parents forced her to drink large amounts of water as punishment for drinking juice meant for her sister. The Killpack's claim that they were practicing "hydro-therapy" allegedly taught to them by VanBloem. Cassandra's parents are charged with child abuse homicide and child abuse in the death of their daughter. Interestingly, in his call to 911, when asked "What's going on?" Cassandra's father immediately described that his daughter "has a lot of emotional problems, but to make a long story short, she had one of her temper tantrums today." (Karlinsky, 2002) Killpack seems to spend a great deal of time with the police department dispatcher explaining not why he was calling for help, but what his daughter had done wrong.

            ATs typically claim that it was not their methods that killed the children. Claims range from unsubstantiated allegations of hidden medical conditions (Cline, personal communication, 2001), to parents practicing a technique inappropriately, to the "crazy child just up and died" (Horn, 2001) Ironically, for these same practitioners, an inability to accept responsibility for one's actions and irrational lying are deemed as symptoms of the very disorder they claim their child patients suffer from. In each of these cases, various neighbors, friends, and school officials reported that the children were loveable and kind. But AT defenders say that children with RAD are "superficially charming" towards others and even list as a symptom of the child's disorder, parents who seem unusually angry. It would appear that in the practice of attachment therapy, the children are the only ones expected to take responsibility for their own actions.

            In Fort Worth, Texas, Jeannie Warren successfully presented a case against her former psychiatrist Dr. Robert Gross of the Psychiatric Institute. Jeanne was 15 years old when she underwent 25 "rage reduction" session in 14 months of therapy. "District Judge Ken Curry of Tarrant County ruled that her psychiatrist had committed assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress." (Cohen, 1996) As part of his trial, Dr. Gross argued that, "the object of the session was to stimulate the rage, not inflict any physical pain. Sometimes the only way a person can get there, unfortunately, is through pain." (Cohen, 1996) Cline came to Gross' defense, stating in the article, "It always hurts me, but I do understand it, when I see negative things about some therapy this or that taken out of context," (Cohen, 1996) Cline claimed that the treatment was misunderstood.

            The State of Colorado has enacted a bill dubbed, "Candace's Law" which attempts to regulate the use of physical restraint in "rebirthing" sessions but has many loopholes. Colorado still allows unlicensed psychotherapists to practice legally in the state.

            Recently, a Utah group lead by Larry Van Bloem, sought to achieve a separate licensure status in the state of Utah for ATs. On hand to speak against the proposal were, the Utah Medical Association, Utah Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, Utah Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Utah Psychology Association, National Association for Consumer Protection in Mental Health Practices, American Association for the Humane Treatment of Children in Therapy (now called Advocates for Children in Therapy), and a psychiatrist who read the APA policy against holding therapy. The proponents withdrew their request after seeing the array of organizations there to oppose them. (Rosa, 2003) Utah has also considered legislation to ban the use of restraint practices as psychotherapy. Mainstream mental health organizations have criticized AT, but have expressed concern about states attempting to legislate something that only trained professionals can speak to. And so, the horror continues.

            The Bottom Line

            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.

            Preceding her 2001 trial for the suffocation death of Candace Newmaker, Connell Watkins was asked by the Assistant District Attorney whether she had ever experienced this "therapy" herself. She replied, "No, I thought it would be too traumatic."

            For Additional Information


            American Psychiatric Association. (4th ed). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. (1994). Washington, DC

            California, State of. (1973). Before the psychology examining committee of the board of medical examiners; in the matter of the accusation against Robert Zaslow.

            Carpenter, R. & K. (1972). Bless the beasts and the children. A&M records: A song for you LP.

            Cline, F. (1992). Hope for High risk and rage filled children. Evergreen, CO: EC Publications.

            Cohen, E. (1996, October 24). Rage reduction therapy: Help or abuse? US News. Accessed April 20, 2001.

            Colorado, State of (1995). Before the state board of medical examiners; disciplinary proceeding regarding the license to practice medicine in the state of Colorado of Foster Cline, M.D., license no. 17080. Case No. ME 95-08

            Colorado, State of. Before the state board of examiners of social workers; in the matter of disciplinary proceeding against the license to practice social work of Neil Feinberg.

            Crowder, C. (2001) Therapist has long ties to 'holding' treatment. Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved June 15, 2001 from

            Crowder, C., & Lowe, P. (2000, October 29). Her name was Candace. Denver Rocky Mountain News, pp. 1A, 1M-7M, 9M-12M.

            Des Moines Register editorial board. (2001, July 6). Death from desperation. Retrieved May 10, 2001, from

            Foy, P. (2003). Senate panel deadlocks on banning coercive therapy. Associated Press, Salt Lake City.

            Graham, Judith. (2001) Child's death during treatment casts doubt on new age therapy. Retrieved April 27, 2001 from

            Horn, M. (2001). A dead child, a troubling defense: Renee Polreis says her son was fatefully scarred by his infancy in a Russian orphanage. Prosecutors say she killed him. U.S.News and World Report. July 14, 1997 p 24-26, 28.

            Institute for Attachment (2003). What is reactive attachment disorder? Retrieved June 15, 2003 from http://www.instititueforattachment.

            James, B. (1996). Treating traumatized children: New insights and creative interventions. New York: The Free Press.

            Karlinsky, N. (2002). Girl drinks fatal amount of water. Good Morning America. Retrieved June 20, 2003

            Levy, T.M., & Orlans, M. (2003a). Attachment disorders as an antecedent to violence and antisocial patterns in children. In T.M. Levy (Ed.), Handbook of attachment interventions. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

            Levy, T.M., & Orlans, M. (2000b). Attachment disorder and the adoptive family. In T.M. Levy (Ed.) Handbook of attachment interventions. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

            Lowe, P. (2001a). Prosecutor plays hardball with Watkins. Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved June 15, 2001 from

            Lowe, P. (2001b). Therapist defends rebirthing technique; Testimony continues in 10year-old's death. Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved Jun 15, 2001 from

            Lowe, P. & Crowder, C. (2001). Therapist has strong defenders, foes. Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved June 25 from archives.

            Magid, K., & McKelvey, C.A. (1987). High risk: Children without a conscience. New York: Bantam.

            Maloney, S-B. (2001). Disciples Today. Retrieved October 10, 2001 from

            Mercer, J., Sarner, L., & Rosa, L. (2003). Attachment Therapy on Trial: The Torture and Death of Candace Newmaker. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

            Mercer, J. (June 30, 2003) Personal communication.

            Petition. In the Matter of the License of Lawrence Lee Van Bloem to Practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of Utah. In the Matter of the License of Jennie Murdock Gwilliam to Practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of Utah Before the Division of Occupational & Professional Licensing of the Department of Commerce of the State of Utah, Case No. DOPL 2002-223.

            Reed, Christopher. (2001, June 21). The cuddles that kill. The Herald, (Glascow, Scotland).

            Rosa, L. (2003) Holders fold. AT News Commentary.
            Santani, J. (2002) License request withdrawn. Salt Lake Tribune.

            Thomas, N. (2000). Parenting children with attachment disorders. In T.M. Levy (Ed.), Handbook of attachment interventions. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

            Waller, D. (April 19, 2001) Personal communication.

            Winfrey, Oprah. Televised February 29, 1988.

            Zaslow, R., & Menta, M. (1975). The psychology of the Z-process: Attachment and activity. San Jose, CA: San Jose State University Press.


            Ms. Maloney is a Ph.D. student from Texas who earned a Master of Arts in Counselor Education from Sam Houston State University in 1995. She also holds a Master of Divinity from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. She can be reached at [email protected]

            This article was revised on July 24, 2003.
            « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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            Offline Inculcated

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            Re: Be very very Wary of Attachment Therapy
            « Reply #1 on: March 07, 2011, 01:56:14 PM »
            An epidemic of unfounded, untested, and unregulated therapies is being foisted on the youngest members of our society. Children, most of them adopted, are being subjected to a form of "therapy" that several state licensing boards have deemed grossly negligent. Some states have had cases in criminal and civil courts against the practitioners. Therapists have been fined, sanctioned, and even sent to prison for their treatment of children. "Attachment therapy" (AT), as the practitioners call their trade, has a frightening history, a devastating present, and, if legislatures and mental health licensing boards don't get more involved, a deadly future.
            In addition to being patently abusive under any circumstances, many of these practices (detailed in the article) are very alluring to an already abusive parent. Parental abuse can take many forms and many cases of parents bringing their child to these abusers is not so much a case of a naive parent being drawn in by those who subject these children to these tortures as treatment, but often of a parent being drawn to a setting that sanctions, gratifies and colludes with their own abusive tendencies.
            Mainstream therapists who criticize AT may illicit from parents a belief that the therapist is not well-trained in AT and a fear that the therapist is the enemy and will report that parent to Child Protective Services
            Here's hoping!
            Death and Denial

            ATs have been implicated in the deaths of at least four children. The most publicized case is that 10-year-old Candace Newmaker
            Referring to Candace, another "expert," Dr. John Dicke, clinical director of the Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Institute in Colorado stated:

            "In many ways [Candace] was 'the devil' that we are afraid of in all of us. She was destined for a life of misery and perhaps drug abuse, living on the streets or in prison. In five to six years, she might have been prosecuted by the same district attorney who convicted Watkins and Ponder. Instead of homicide, perhaps they should have been charged with defiling a corpse, for, tragically, Candace Newmaker's soul died the day her unable mother cast her aside." (Reed, 2001)
            Sickened just sickened! He minimizes that child’s death by minimizing her value in life by asserting that she had no soul.
            Too much. So sickened by this. It’s too much.
            There are many effective treatments for Reactive Attachment Disorder... 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.
            « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
            “A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free”  Nikos Kazantzakis

            Offline RTP2003

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            Re: Be Wary of Attachment Therapy
            « Reply #2 on: March 07, 2011, 02:17:59 PM »
            In addition to being patently abusive under any circumstances, many of these practices (detailed in the article) are very alluring to an already abusive parent. Parental abuse can take many forms and many cases of parents bringing their child to these abusers is not so much a case of a naive parent being drawn in by those who subject these children to these tortures as treatment, but often of a parent being drawn to a setting that sanctions, gratifies and colludes with their own abusive tendencies

            Oh yeah, I think that hits dead on regarding the attitude of many program parents.
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            Offline Inculcated

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            Turning circles
            « Reply #3 on: March 19, 2011, 04:26:07 PM »
            After having had an overwhelm reaction to reading the unrelated to AT and still heartbreaking details surrounding the abuse, neglect  and suicide in 1994 of Isabel Jamison on this Fornits thread, I decided to become more acquainted with JCB Bellfaire.
            My meandering search had some detours which lead me through to a site which is primarily focused on the risks and consequences of Attachment Therapy. Their content also addresses the late 2008 restraint death of Faith Finley at Parmadale Family Services, and others.
            In addition to offering information on restraint deaths and compiling survivor accounts, they also maintain a watch list of Attachment therapists and provide info regarding How to Make a Complaint against Attachment Therapists and "Therapeutic" Foster Parents. That post written by Wayward Radish on also gives acknowledgement and thanks to another group called Advocates for Children in Therapy (ACT) .
            In memoriam
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            “A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free”  Nikos Kazantzakis

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            Offline Ursus

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            Re: Be Wary of Attachment Therapy
            « Reply #5 on: March 24, 2011, 08:54:33 PM »
            Another site with lots of thought provoking material: ... index.html
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            Offline Ursus

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            Seeking Child's Love, a Child's Life is Lost; pt 1/3
            « Reply #6 on: March 26, 2011, 10:17:12 PM »
            From the piece featured in the OP, "Be Wary of Attachment Therapy":

              ATs have been implicated in the deaths of at least four children. The most publicized case is that 10-year-old
            Candace Newmaker, who died in the care of Watkins, Julie Ponder, Brita St. Clair, and Jack McDaniel. The coroner listed the cause of death as asphyxiation brought about by a bizarre plan to re-enact the birth process so that Candace could be "reborn" to her adoptive mother, Jean Newmaker. (Mercer, 2003)[/list]

            From Inculcated's link to A Search For Survivors — IN MEMORIAM:

              Candace Elizabeth Newmaker (??? 1990 – April 18, 2000)
              A ten year old adopted girl killed by asphyxiation during an attachment therapy 'intensive' involving a 'rebirthing' script in 2000, during which Candace was wrapped in blankets and required to struggle to be reborn, against the weight of several adults.[/list]

              The LA Times ran an excellent in-depth story on the Candace Newmaker case back in 2001. Given its length, posting it will be in three parts...

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              Los Angeles Times
              SUNDAY REPORT

              Seeking Child's Love, a Child's Life is Lost

              Ten-year-old Candace Newmaker died in the midst of a treatment meant to heal her. The therapists, and their methods, are going on trial.

              February 04, 2001 | BARRY SIEGEL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

              EVERGREEN, Colo. — Of all that can be said about Jeane Newmaker--and there is not much, for she has gone into retreat now--what seems most certain is that by last April, she was a desperate woman.

              It had been her dream to give and receive affection, to make someone happy, to cradle a needy, grateful child. So at age 42, single and living alone, she adopted a 6-year-old girl, Candace. Newmaker apparently did not get back from Candace what she had expected. Instead, she found herself struggling with an angry, defiant child who--like others from broken, abusive homes--did not want her adopted mother's love or hugs or parenting.

              What followed over the next four years was a litany of troubles. There were fruitless visits to a series of therapists and doctors in their home state, North Carolina. There were numerous diagnoses. There were experiments with various medications. There was, for Jeane Newmaker, a fair share of depression and exhaustion. Finally there was the journey--increasingly familiar among parents in her situation--here to Evergreen, a remote mountain town 30 miles west of Denver.

              Evergreen is the epicenter of therapy for "reactive attachment disorder," a mecca for parents who have been told that's what their kids have. Fourteen attachment therapists toil in six clinics in this hamlet of 8,000. Theirs is a world regarded by many in mainstream medicine as being filled with "wackos" and "cultists," but it's also an expanding world. The number of attachment disorder diagnoses, therapists and acolytes has multiplied in recent years, particularly since the adoptions of traumatized Eastern European orphans began in 1989. Evergreen has become the trail's end for distraught parents who find that mainstream medicine provides them neither solutions nor understanding.

              Connell Watkins--the particular Evergreen therapist chosen by Jeane Newmaker--was among the best known and most controversial in her field. It was to Watkins' home on Meadow Drive that Jeane and Candace reported last April 10 to begin a two-week intensive therapy program. And it was from Watkins' home eight days later that someone placed a frantic 911 emergency call.

              Even for a mountain town as accustomed to the unconventional as Evergreen, this call sounded unusual. A 10-year-old girl in cardiac arrest; a 10-year-old girl not breathing. Within minutes, two paramedics and a sheriff's deputy were rolling.

              Connell Watkins' two-story house, which served as both her home and clinic, had a look poised halfway between comfortable and disheveled. Green shutters framed some windows. Scattered out front were a pile of logs, a wheelbarrow, a small red bicycle and--behind a split wood fence--a yard full of toys. As the paramedics' ambulance pulled up, a man stood on Watkins' dirt driveway, waiting for them.

              We were doing a "rebirthing session," the man told paramedic Larry Ferree. We left the girl alone for five minutes, then found her not breathing.

              Inside, in a small room to the right of the entry, Ferree discovered Candace lying face up on the floor. Above her, Jeane Newmaker was performing CPR, both chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

              Ferree knelt to examine the girl. She was blue, cool to the touch, without pulse or breath. Her pupils were fixed and dilated, her eyes full of red spots. She'd been down for more than 10 minutes, Ferree gauged. He suspected asphyxia. He thought her prognosis poor.

              Ferree looked around the room. He wondered what had happened here. So would all sorts of people, soon enough.

              Hours after being airlifted from Watkins' house, Candace Newmaker was pronounced brain-dead by doctors at Children's Hospital in Denver. Her severe brain injury, they said, was due to "mechanical asphyxiation," which occurred while she "was restrained during therapy session."

              A horrible accident, Connell Watkins explained in an e-mail to supporters. We don't know why this happened. We could never have caused this little girl's death.

              Watkins had videotaped the rebirthing session, though, and the tape provided a somewhat more graphic tale. Investigators watched it over and over with mounting dismay. This is not a horrible accident at all, the Jefferson County district attorney's office eventually decided. This is a horrible crime.

              In late May, prosecutors filed charges of reckless child abuse resulting in death against Connell Watkins and three of her associates. Days later they charged Jeane Newmaker as well, on a lesser count of negligent child abuse resulting in death. Now the trials loom--the first, of Watkins and an associate, is set to begin March 29. "This is a big national issue," one of the prosecutors told a reporter. "This whole medical approach will be on trial."

              That's just what many in the world of attachment theory fear. Evergreen therapists, shuddering at the sudden scrutiny from journalists and state regulators, scramble to distance themselves from Watkins. Supporters, including many parents of children she has treated, rise passionately to her defense. Various critics point fingers at mainstream medicine for driving parents into the arms of fringe therapists. Others denounce the Colorado Legislature for allowing unlicensed therapists such as Watkins to operate. Here and there, questions arise about those who expect perfection--or images of themselves--from the troubled children they adopt.

              Togetherness and Trips

              Through it all, Jeane Newmaker remains silent. Even those who would lynch the therapists shake their heads over this single mother. She is 47 now, a nurse practitioner who treats children at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. She was known by neighbors to be devoted to Candace. How could such a caring, educated woman come to entrust her daughter to a quartet of strangers in a rambling house on Meadow Drive in Evergreen? How could she stand by and watch as unlicensed alternative therapists did this to her little girl?

              These are unfathomable questions for most, but not, as it happens, for other parents who have journeyed to Evergreen with their troubled children. Over and over, these parents offer the same refrain when asked about Jeane Newmaker: It could have been us.

              Jeane Newmaker, who had never married, adopted Candace in 1996 and brought her to a large two-story brick home on a corner lot near downtown Durham. By all accounts, she was a loving, involved mother. Those who saw them together--Jeane large and heavyset, Candace a pixie with dark hair and eyes--thought they displayed a particularly warm bond. You didn't know just Jeane or Candace, you knew them both, as if they were a couple. Jeane always showed up at school parties and functions. When school was out, mother and daughter traveled often on vacation. They took trips to the Appalachians, and one to Florida to see the dolphins. They went hiking together, white water rafting, horseback riding.

              Once, while vacationing in the mountains, Candace saw a stray dog and asked Jeane if she could take it home. They already had two dogs, but by the time they got back to their Durham house, the dog was waiting. Jeane had arranged for it to be sent, as a surprise.

              Walter Wolsczuch, the father of Candace's best friend, still marvels about the time Jeane took his daughter and Candace to see a performance of "The Nutcracker" ballet. Afterward, they went to an ice cream social, then shopping at the mall. Wolsczuch's daughter had a blast.

              She'd met Candace in the first grade at Easely Elementary School. They shared the same class in second grade, ate lunch together in third grade, and had afternoon play dates every month or so for four years. During that time, Wolsczuch never once heard the two girls argue. What struck him most about Candace was her energy, her eagerness, her ambitions. When Jeane leased her a horse, Candace learned to take care of it as well as ride it. There was always a smile on Candace's face, always so much joy. Wolsczuch never saw any indications of a problem.

              There apparently were problems, though. Once, Newmaker said something to Wolsczuch about Candace being "on medication." Another time, she said that Candace had attention deficit disorder.

              Other accounts, one by a psychiatrist, refer to Candace's "assaultive behavior," displayed mostly behind closed doors with her mother. If true, such conduct would be no surprise to Evergreen therapists. Surface charm to outsiders is a hallmark of children with attachment issues, they say. So is defiance to those who would parent them. Both characteristics reflect children who, after enduring severe trauma in their early life, have come to operate in a survival mode, distrusting and refusing close attachments.

              Candace undeniably had her share of early trauma. Although adoption records are sealed in North Carolina, it's known, from an account in the Rocky Mountain News, that Candace became a ward of Lincoln County at age 5, after twice being taken from her birth mother. Candace's early years involved an angry father, a troubled mother, a household full of marital fights and domestic disturbance calls, constant moves from one ramshackle home to another, unceasing poverty and, finally, at age 3, her parents' separation. Given all that, it's not startling to learn that a county caseworker made note of her "angry outbursts and rebellion."

              What's not clear is whether such conduct meant Candace was severely disturbed, as some therapists would later conclude, or simply a difficult child from a harsh background. Was the treatment being sought by Jeane Newmaker really for Candace, or was it for a mother who longed to be hugged? This type of question colors many attachment cases. It's often suggested that the parents simply are too strict, or have poor child-rearing skills, or hold unreasonable expectations, or just don't match up well with their kids.

              Objective truth is not possible in a matter as personal as the relations between mother and daughter, particularly when they occur behind closed doors. All that can be said is that Jeane Newmaker made it plain to some friends that she found the girl to be a handful. In fact, Newmaker's later comments indicate Candace wouldn't let her adoptive mother hold her or look her in the eye. Newmaker had anticipated a reciprocally loving relationship and instead had found something far more complicated.

              It's known now that Jeane, in between all the vacations, parties and school functions, was taking Candace to a series of doctors and mental health professionals. They visited specialists in attention deficit disorder, depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome. They experimented with various therapeutic approaches. They tried mood-altering medications--the amphetamine Dexedrine (for ADD), the antidepressant Effexor, the psychotropic Risperdal.

              None of this worked; at least, none of this provided Jeane Newmaker the resolution she by now was so doggedly pursuing. She pushed on, continuing to read and seek out professional advice. She would later describe this process to an investigator as "frustrating" and "emotionally laden." For so long, she was "trying to hold it together."

              Those few words echo an abundance of testimony offered by other parents in Newmaker's situation. Over and over, they talk about their "RAD kids"--as those diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder are often called--being charming to outsiders, a terror in their own homes. In stark detail, they describe unceasing wars being waged by remorseless, manipulative kids determined to resist, defy and above all maintain control. It's like "Chinese water torture," the parents say. They never get any of "the good stuff." Instead they get emotional, violent outbursts all day long. Some get hit, shoved, thrown to the floor. Stories abound about kids who disrupt dinners by projectile vomiting, who run hands up visitors' dresses, who bite dinner guests in the calf, who rip curtains off walls in the middle of the night.

              Most moms--it's mothers whom the RAD kids usually target--end up feeling isolated, not the least because so many neighbors, relatives, doctors and social workers seem to suspect the problem is more with them than their child. What they long for most of all is validation. They want someone to acknowledge that there is a problem with their kid and that the problem has a name.

              Somewhere in her constant reading and research, Jeane Newmaker finally came to the mention of such a name--reactive attachment disorder. At a workshop in North Carolina, she heard recited a list of the main symptoms. Inability to give or receive real affection; lack of eye contact on parental terms; extreme defiance and anger; extreme control problems; manipulative, superficial charm; lack of conscience. Newmaker was struck with how closely these symptoms reflected Candace's behavior.

              She began to expand her inquiry into attachment issues. In time, she turned to the Internet. There she found a bonanza: Web sites, discussion groups, chat rooms, links, clinics, bibliographies. Above all, she found other parents--parents with RAD kids, parents with her set of problems, parents who'd already made the journey to Evergreen. With open arms, a whole new community beckoned to Jeane Newmaker.

              Rage and Restraint

              The notion of attachment disorder has been around for years, but it gained a critical mass in the early 1970s when an Evergreen child psychiatrist, Foster Cline, founded what would eventually evolve into the Attachment Center at Evergreen, now the preeminent organization in the field. There Cline fixed on something he called "rage reduction therapy," borrowed from techniques developed by a California doctor, Robert Zaslow, in his work with autistics.

              Basically, rage reduction meant goading, confronting and physically restraining kids. You pinned them down, you rubbed knuckles in their ribs, you incited them to rage with lots of "who's the boss" taunting. The goal was to out-power the powerful, to force psychological engagement and surrender when a child would rather withdraw or retain control.

              Even those who felt uneasy with these methods had to admit they sometimes appeared to work. Although not a cure-all, they at least helped parents gain access to walled-off kids. Families began to flock to Evergreen, many for two-week intensive programs that involved 30 hours of concentrated therapy. If nothing else, there was a market here, a market that mainstream medicine wasn't pursuing or addressing.

              Soon therapists--some with doctorates, most with master's degrees in such fields as social work and family counseling--were journeying to Evergreen to get training. New clinics opened, spinoffs from the Attachment Center. Attachment therapy is not a specialty that can be licensed or board-certified--in fact, anybody in Colorado can practice it. Nonetheless, by 1987 reactive attachment disorder was a recognized psychiatric condition listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

              Only occasionally did the troubling undercurrents to all this make themselves known. Cline's aggressive techniques looked an awful lot like child abuse to various adoption and social service agencies. Matters came to a head in 1988. Late that year, under general supervision by Cline, two therapists--one of them Connell Watkins--began treatment of a troubled 11-year-old boy from Florida. Days later, the boy ran away and reported to authorities that he'd been abused.

              (to be continued in the following post... )
              « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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              Offline Ursus

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              Seeking Child's Love, a Child's Life is Lost; pt 2/3
              « Reply #7 on: March 26, 2011, 10:47:37 PM »
              'Seeking Child's Love, a Child's Life is Lost' (by Barry Siegel; Feb. 04, 2001; Los Angeles Times); part 2/3:

              -------------- • -------------- • --------------

              Sheriff's deputies seized files and videotape. The videotape began to circulate. The Colorado Psychiatric Society filed a complaint against Cline. After review, the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners accused Cline of "grossly negligent medical practice." In a stipulated settlement, Cline eventually agreed to no longer participate in rage reduction therapy. Soon after, he moved to northern Idaho, where he remains an advocate but not a practitioner of intrusive restraint.

              The case jolted other Evergreen therapists. Those at the Attachment Center and elsewhere began to develop more humane methods that didn't force a child's utter capitulation. Over time, a new executive director pushed the Attachment Center toward the mainstream, insisting they follow state rules and guidelines.

              All the same, Evergreen did not totally transform itself. The centerpiece, and by far the most controversial element of attachment theory, remains a form of treatment called holding therapy.

              Even its advocates allow that it's not always pretty to look at, despite a nurturing essence. The child is held in a cradling position, face up on the therapist's lap as they sit on a couch. One of the child's arms is usually placed behind the therapist's back. The therapist holds the child's chin with one hand, forcing eye contact. The therapist provokes and confronts, trying to goad the child into venting his rage.

              Often the children resist. It is not uncommon for them to writhe and wail in wild-eyed anguish. Attachment therapists don't mind, for their goal is to force kids to see that they can let go and still survive. If the session goes well, the payoff comes after the rage is expressed, when the child gently cradles in the arms of the therapist or parent, who supports the rage, offering comfort and assurance.

              Foster Cline has called this final stage "the joy of surrender." At various times he and his associates have likened attachment therapy to the "gentling" of a wild horse, to invasive surgeons who must cut open sick patients and to the intrusive treatment Helen Keller received at the hands of Anne Sullivan.

              Critics are more inclined toward other comparisons: witchcraft, quackery and brainwashing. If there's a bond forced by holding therapy, they argue, it's a trauma bond, such as develops between hostage and captor. There's no hard proof this method works, they point out, no legitimate research into its effects. There can't be, for there isn't even a consensus as to what--if anything--constitutes RAD. It's a catchall phrase that can include kids with oppositional disorder, bipolar disorder, attention-deficit disorder and post-traumatic stress syndrome. Everything is anecdotal, and everything is vague.

              Ronald Federici, a developmental neuropsychologist in Virginia, says: "There are a lot of yahoos out there, professionally untrained to make proper assessments. Anybody and everybody is doing it. Parents are desperate and looking for magical solutions. Sometimes they find what they're looking for on the Internet. Unfortunately, some of those Web sites and chat groups are peopled with pseudo-experts. Attachment centers are cropping up all over the country. Many of the more extreme people tend to be cultish."

              The world of attachment theory, with its apocalyptic warnings and assorted legal problems, does often seem questionable. A scattering of cases--including ones in Houston; Arlington, Texas; and Midvale, Utah--are particularly troubling. The harshest critics don't paint a full portrait, however. Left out are the voices of the more temperate therapists, and of those level-headed families who turned to Evergreen simply because they had no alternative. Some went there with qualms, some didn't find what they sought, but a good number did come away satisfied. They found, if not a cure, a sort of rescue, a kind of solace.

              They tell of attending speeches by Foster Cline and pounding their companion's legs, whispering, "See, see, it's not just me." They describe the relief of being understood and supported, of being "not alone, not crazy." They talk of crying at the Attachment Center because folks there "were describing my child. . . . It felt like they were in my house."

              The testimony of Anne Marie Brown is as representative as any: "We'd heard terrible things about Evergreen. We feared what would happen. But we knew we couldn't keep going on as things were. We had to do something. Evergreen was the answer. They gave me validation. They said yes, there is a problem, but we can do something about it. My marriage improved. Everything improved. They gave us our lives."

              Among the Therapists

              Winding her way through the Internet, Jeane Newmaker came finally to the Web site for ATTACh (Assn. for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children), an international umbrella organization founded in 1989. At the ATTACh site, Newmaker downloaded a list of recognized therapists. She also downloaded information about ATTACh's upcoming 11th annual international conference.

              It was scheduled, she saw, for Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, 1999, at a Holiday Inn in Alexandria, Va. Foster Cline would be there, talking in a general session on "Keys to Success & Satisfaction With Difficult Kids." The Attachment Center at Evergreen would be there, offering "An In-Depth Clinical Case Study and Review of Treatment Protocol."

              Newmaker decided she would be there too.

              The hotel was jammed when she arrived; 570 people had come from 44 states, Britain and Canada. Tables and booths lined the hotel hallways, offering brochures, books, tapes, posters, T-shirts. Throngs pushed into standing-room-only sessions to hear therapists and watch videos. Rooms filled with lunches, with cocktail parties, with special demonstrations. For three full days it continued, featuring 31 workshops, four general sessions and three keynote speakers.

              As she made her way through all this, Jeane Newmaker talked to therapists. She talked to parents of RAD children. She talked to the therapeutic foster mothers who host families enrolled in Evergreen's two-week intensive programs. It is likely she attended a session on "Children With Reactive Attachment Disorder" led by Bill Goble, a psychologist with a doctorate who hailed from her home state of North Carolina.

              After that session, Newmaker approached Goble. They stood squeezed together in the crowded hallway as hundreds pushed by, heading to their next session. Newmaker began to speak about Candace. She described her daughter's symptoms and the many therapies she'd tried in vain. What's available, she asked. Who could help us?

              Goble studied this woman. He thought Newmaker a very caring mom. Searching was the word that best described her.

              He had met so many parents like her. From the start of his practice, he'd seen kids from the two children's homes that operated in his community. They'd puzzled him as much as Candace puzzled Jeane. He tried everything with them. Nothing worked. He decided he obviously didn't know how to treat children, so ethically he shouldn't.

              Then he happened to pick up a book about attachment theory. Goble had heard negative things about Evergreen; at one workshop, everyone had talked about this horrible place in Colorado where they were so disrespectful to children. No matter; Goble felt he had no alternative. He traveled to Evergreen, where he trained with Foster Cline and Connell Watkins, who impressed him greatly.

              Back in North Carolina, kids under his care started to get better. Maybe, he decided, he wasn't so bad with kids after all. In time, he took a seat on the board of directors of ATTACh.

              At his side now, Jeane Newmaker talked on. She sounded as if she'd tried just about everything and heard every diagnosis.

              What's available? Who can help us?

              Goble asked her to fill out a checklist, an inventory of Candace's characteristics. Soon she was back, sheet in hand. She'd checked off almost all the major common symptoms.

              He'd never make a formal diagnosis in such a situation, Goble would later say--but he did make some kind of judgment. Clearly, Goble thought, Newmaker's daughter very much fit. To him it seemed a fairly severe case. Severe enough that a two-week intensive program might be appropriate.

              Goble recommended to Newmaker programs that would let Candace live in a foster home during the therapy. This appealed to Newmaker because it meant she wouldn't have to stay alone with Candace in a hotel for two weeks; she feared Candace's rage during the therapy would be even greater than at home.

              Could Goble suggest a particular place, Jeane asked.

              Some programs give you that live-in opportunity, Goble said, and some don't. One that does is Connell Watkins & Associates in Evergreen.

              Movement's Godmother

              Connell Watkins, 54 now, holds a singular position in Evergreen. She's been there since nearly the start, joining Foster Cline's group in 1977, not long after earning her master's degree in social work at Denver University. Although not licensed or credentialed in Colorado, she is regarded as the godmother of attachment therapy, a direct extension of Cline. Other therapists, in their own books, hail her in effusive dedications and acknowledgments. Many describe her as uncommonly intuitive with troubled children; some use terms such as "genius" and "incredibly compassionate."

              At the same time, Watkins is also regularly described as having a decidedly strong personality, "a mind of her own." Possibly to avoid excessive scrutiny, she chooses to remain unlicensed, something Colorado allows, to much dismay in some quarters. She is known for taking the "worst of the worst" cases and then doing "whatever it takes" to help them. She is also known for believing that she is always right.

              When many in Evergreen began to moderate their techniques in the wake of the 1988 abuse case involving Foster Cline, Watkins resisted. She feared the "integrity" of the therapy would be hurt, she told a colleague at the time. She didn't want to abandon aggressive methods when she felt they were needed. A rift consequently developed between her and others at the Attachment Center, where she was then serving as executive director. In 1992, she left to open her own clinic.

              It is possible now to find people who are deeply offended by Watkins. It is also possible to find people who are utterly enthralled.

              Annette Krulisky, who works in California as a child advocate on behalf of adopted special-needs children, met Watkins during the Evergreen therapist's several trips to California, where she has conducted unlicensed sessions in Nevada City, in the foothills east of Sacramento. "Within seconds of walking in our house," Krulisky said, "Connell was doing a selling job. She sees everything as evidence of attachment disorder. If you don't do this therapy, she tells parents, you'll have a Charles Manson. She frightens parents. But she offers what they so want, the love of a child. So they throw away all caution."

              Kathy Lee, a Sacramento mother, brought her 9-year-old daughter, Crystal, to see Watkins in Nevada City in June 1997. "Let's see if we can piss Crystal off," is what Lee recalls Watkins saying as she began a demonstration of holding therapy. When Crystal struggled, Watkins put her hand on her forehead and yelled, "So you don't like yourself very much, do you?" When Crystal grew angrier still, demanding that Watkins remove her hands, Watkins laughed, saying the girl had a terrible case of attachment disorder that needed urgent attention. Lee and her husband thought Watkins brash, crude and brutal. It was, Lee said later, "a $325 lesson for me."

              Others, in singing odes to Connell Watkins, talk of her "pure heart," of how she fights for families, of how she won't give up on kids. Gail Trenberth, on the board of directors of both ATTACh and the Attachment Center at Evergreen, and head of the Attachment Disorder Parents Network, is one whose child Watkins treated. "Connell has helped so many different parents," Trenberth says. "I have great respect for Connell as a therapist and as a human being."

              More vivid testimony comes from Gail Trenberth's daughter, Angie. Now 21, she was 9 when first treated by Watkins. She'd had years of traditional therapy by then, following an infancy of severe abuse from her birth parents. She viewed life "as a video game.... I was manipulating the whole world."

              Then her adoptive mom brought her to the Attachment Center. At Angie's first session with Connell Watkins, the therapist asked her to take her shoes off.

              Why? Angie asked.

              Because I told you to, Watkins replied. Make it quick and snappy.

              Angie thought, What am I in for?

              They began a holding session, Angie across Watkins' lap. "So I hear you've been putting your parents through a lot of crap," Watkins said. Angie tried to mumble an answer. Watkins demanded she speak up. Watkins also told her to start kicking.


              Because I told you to. Quick and snappy.

              What the heck is going on, Angie wondered. She was losing complete control. She didn't like it. But there she was, kicking away.

              Watkins asked about her birth parents. Angie mumbled an answer.

              Louder, Watkins said.

              They used to hit me.


              "Here was the first person I couldn't game," Angie recalls. "She knew what I was up to. She kept forcing me to answer, speak louder, to shout it out. She was in my face, very confrontational. I tried to charm her, tried to turn away. It didn't work. She kept right at it, kept right in my face. I was really mad by then, kicking and screaming at her. I spit on her. When I spit, she took the spit off her face and wiped it back on my face. Never spit in Connell's face. I learned that right away."

              In time, Watkins got what she wanted: Angie screaming not at her, but at her birth parents. My parents beat me. . . . My parents hurt me. . . . I hate my parents. . . . I'm so angry.

              Then Angie was crying, true tears, not a game. At that moment, Watkins stopped the inquiry. She reached for Angie, hugged her, held her. You poor child, baby Angie, it's not your fault, you didn't deserve this, you didn't deserve to get hurt.

              "Normally I'd pull back from that," Angie recalls, "but I didn't. It felt good. By the third or fourth session, I kind of even liked therapy. I would not be here today but for that therapy. I'd be in jail or dead."

              Angie's sessions with Watkins continued for 18 months. She still keeps in touch with her, calling and writing. "Connell is awesome," she says. "She really knows. She really understands."

              Classic 'Abused Mom'

              On Jan. 20, 2000, Newmaker signed a contract with Connell Watkins & Associates for a two-week intensive therapy program that called for a payment of $7,000, the going rate in Evergreen. She and Candace arrived at Watkins' home on Monday, April 10--spring break at Candace's school--to start the treatment. Like many parents before her, Newmaker felt greatly relieved to be in Evergreen; she believed she finally was going to be getting some help. What particularly impressed her: Connell Watkins seemed to understand Candace's symptoms and to be familiar with Jeane's descriptions of their home situation.

              Right off, Watkins arranged a medical evaluation. On April 11, Candace and Jeane met Dr. John Alston, an Evergreen psychiatrist whom most of the attachment therapists there use as a consultant. Jeane Newmaker struck Alston as a classic "abused mom," weighed down by despair and frustration. He found her likable but exhausted. Alston recalls less about Candace. He judged her to be a "severe" case, though, clearly in need of treatment.

              The psychiatrist adjusted Candace's medications, stopping the Effexor she'd been taking but increasing the Risperdal by 50%. Risperdal has a sedating effect that can lead to lethargy, confusion and eventual calm. A prosecutor would later characterize its increased use with Candace as an effort to "modify her mental condition," but Alston told investigators he acted because of "a long history of assaultive behavior" in the girl's medical background.

              By all accounts available, Candace's therapy in its first days--which included the typical kind of taunting confrontation--did not progress as well as Watkins' team had hoped. Candace, they believed, was not "working" hard enough. Apparently, they could not break through, could not get her to engage or erupt in rage.

              (to be continued in the following post... )
              « Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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              Offline Ursus

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              Seeking Child's Love, a Child's Life is Lost; pt 3/3
              « Reply #8 on: March 26, 2011, 11:05:39 PM »
              "Seeking Child's Love, a Child's Life is Lost" (by Barry Siegel; Feb. 04, 2001; Los Angeles Times); part 3/3:

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              Helping Watkins were three associates: Julie Ponder, 40, a California-licensed marriage and family therapist with two master's degrees who'd recently relocated to Evergreen without obtaining a Colorado credential; Brita Lynn St. Clair, 41, Watkins' office manager; and Jack Dudley McDaniel, 47, St. Clair's fiance, a high school graduate whom Watkins was paying $700 for the two weeks to serve as an "intern." To them all, Candace seemed emotionally withdrawn after her medication was changed. St. Clair--at whose home the girl was staying--thought her very bright but becoming passive, a reflective girl who wasn't violent, belligerent or defiant. Watkins later described her as having "a look in her eyes like nobody was home."

              On April 17, midway through the two-week program, John Alston placed Candace back on the antidepressant Effexor. He did so, he later explained to investigators, to counter her "disassociation."

              That same day, Watkins' team conducted what is called "compression therapy." They had Candace lie down on a mat. They wrapped her in a sheet, leaving only her head uncovered. On each side of her, they placed a large cushion. They instructed Newmaker to lie down on top of her child, bracing herself on the cushions to distribute her weight. The notion was to have Candace become "compliant" with her mother, to have the mother control the situation, not the child. The further notion was to have Candace visually connect with her mother, to form some kind of attachment.

              After a time, they unwrapped Candace. Jeane Newmaker now was sitting in a chair. They instructed Candace to crawl to her mother and sit on her lap, to lie in her mother's arms quietly. They gave Newmaker a plate of food to feed to Candace, as if she were an infant at her breast.

              Jeane Newmaker sobbed to investigators when recalling this moment: She thought she had a breakthrough, she thought she had connected with her daughter. For the first time, Candace had allowed Jeane to hold her; for the first time, Candace had allowed Jeane eye contact.

              The next day, Connell Watkins apparently chose to up the ante, to go further out on a limb she'd long been testing. They would, she decided, conduct a rebirthing session.

              Rebirthing is far from common--the Attachment Center's current staff say they've never heard of it--but it is used by at least a few therapists as a form of role-playing and psychodrama. By acting out a fresh start on life, the theory goes, a child can overcome early trauma and forge a bond with a new mother. There are several ways to do this, but the most familiar has the child wrapped in a blanket, head exposed, as others press on pillows to simulate birth contractions.

              In the summer of 1999, Watkins learned of a more extreme variation from Douglas Gosney, a California-licensed marriage and family therapist with a master's degree, who journeyed to Evergreen to exchange techniques and theories with her. There were lots of ways of doing birth simulations, in Gosney's view. One way was to wrap a child in a sheet "like a mummy," with the head covered. That's what he demonstrated in Evergreen.

              During Gosney's two-week stay with Watkins and Ponder, they used his rebirthing method on clients about six times. After he departed, Watkins used it several other times, including once in January 2000 on another family from North Carolina referred by Bill Goble. That family thought it a wonderful experience.

              Watkins' own view, as it happens, was conflicted. She didn't like conducting rebirthing therapy, she would later tell investigators, and wouldn't want to go through such a traumatic experience herself. For her clients, though, she was "optimistic that it was effective."

              Candace's Nightmare

              On April 18, Candace Newmaker's day at Connell Watkins' home began at 9:04 a.m. with art therapy. Julie Ponder asked Candace to draw pictures of six items. They then discussed what she'd drawn. On a tripod in a corner of the room sat a video camera, recording their exchange and all that followed.

              At 9:35, Ponder began talking to Candace about her upcoming rebirthing session. She described how Candace would be wrapped up, as if in her mother's womb. She asked Candace, do you want to be reborn to your new mom?

              Yes, the 10-year-old said, because her old mom was abusive. Candace talked of being dropped out of a second-story window by her birth mother. She talked about going from foster home to foster home. She wanted to be safe, she said, and not fall out of a window.

              Ponder explained more about the rebirthing process: You'll have a chance to act as a newborn baby. You'll have to kick and scream and fight through a pretend birth canal. Birth is a hard thing, you'll need to work hard. It'll be tight in there but you'll have lots of air to breathe. When you get through the birth canal, you need to reach out for your new mom.

              Candace yawned quite a bit as they talked. Ponder asked if she'd gotten enough sleep. Candace explained that she'd had a nightmare the night before. A nightmare where she thought she was being murdered, that she was going to die.

              Maybe, Ponder suggested, you as a little baby thought you were going to die.

              Candace agreed, saying she thought she was going to die when she went out of the second-story window.

              That's not going to happen now, Ponder said, because you have a mom who loves you.

              For the next 10 minutes, as Ponder and Watkins conferred, Candace remained still and quiet in a position the therapists called a "strong sit." Then, at 9:44 a.m., Ponder rejoined her. She would be the lead therapist this morning.

              Candace was wearing jeans and a T-shirt. She asked if she should take her shoes off. Yes, Ponder said.

              The therapist had with her a blue, queen-sized flannel sheet, which she spread on a pad on the floor. Candace stood, went to it and lay down on her left side in a fetal position. Ponder wrapped the sheet around her, tucking in each side. Then she gathered and twisted the top over her head.

              Watkins, joining them, placed four pillows around Candace. Jack McDaniel and Brita St. Clair now entered the room. So did Jeane Newmaker. She hoped this day would continue the breakthrough they'd had the day before. She hoped this day would produce some kind of response from Candace.

              They positioned themselves around the girl, with Ponder and Newmaker near the top, where Candace would eventually emerge to be reborn. Ponder and Newmaker spoke to Candace through the twisted opening. Then Watkins and her three associates, seated on the floor, began to press on the pillows, pushing in from the sides and top to simulate birth contractions. Newmaker stood to the left and behind Ponder, watching and encouraging Candace to be reborn.

              Push, Ponder told Candace.

              Candace didn't push, at least not hard enough, or not in the right way. Repeatedly she asked, "Where do I come out?" She sounded confused, as if she didn't know what to do. After 10 minutes, she began to plead.

              This was hard; she couldn't do it; she wanted to go to the bathroom; she was tired; she didn't want to be reborn.

              "Whoever is pushing on my head," Candace cried, "it's not helping. Please quit pushing on me. I can't do it."

              They didn't stop. Watkins and her associates kept pressing on the pillows.

              Candace's protests grew more insistent. Within the first 24 minutes, she told them seven times she couldn't breathe. Within the first 16 minutes, she told them six times that she was going to die.

              "I'm gonna die," she said, crying, at 11 minutes and 35 seconds into the session.

              Less than a minute later: "I'm going to die now. . . . No, I don't want to die but I'm about to."

              Nearly two minutes later: "OK, I'm dying, I'm sorry."

              Forty seconds later: "OK, I'm dying."

              A minute and a half later: "I want to die."

              Just short of 17 minutes into the session: "OK, I'm dead."

              In response to Candace's protests, Watkins and her associates increased their pressure on the pillows. To gain leverage, Watkins braced her feet against a couch, Ponder against a brick hearth. Moments later, Ponder and McDaniel repositioned themselves more directly on top of Candace. Together, the four adults weighed 673 pounds; Candace weighed 70 pounds.

              "That's the way the baby feels," they told Candace.

              "Remember you did it once, Candace [being born]. You can do it again."

              "Scream, Candace."

              "You want to die? OK, then die. Go ahead, die right now."

              Harsh as such comments might sound, Watkins' team was simply following attachment theory's fundamental precepts. Parents and therapists alike point out that oppositional, manipulative kids often will claim that they're dying or can't breathe, even when being made to do something like shovel snow. In such situations, says Evergreen psychiatrist John Alston, "you need to use 'paradoxical intention.' When they say 'I'm going to die,' you say, 'Go ahead and die.' That way, you defuse the oppositional element. If you respond to it, you buy into it."

              Later, to investigators, Connell Watkins would say of the girl's pleas: We did not take Candace seriously.

              Later, Jack McDaniel would say: We interpreted it as Candace trying to manipulate the situation; as Candace not wanting to work with the therapy.

              So they kept pushing, they kept pressing. Off to one side, Jeane Newmaker kept urging Candace to be reborn.

              Newmaker would say later she knew "little to none" about Julie Ponder's background. She was "relying on some basic level of trust" that Watkins knew what she was doing. Watkins, after all, had worked with "lots and lots of kids."

              At 10 minutes and 45 seconds into the session, Candace said, "I can't do it, I can't do it, I can't breathe, I can't breathe."

              You got to push hard if you want to be born, or do you want to stay in there and die?

              At 12:05 in, Candace said: "Please let me have some air. I can't breathe."

              It's so hard. . . . It's the hardest thing that you do.

              At 12:28: "Please, please, I can't breathe."

              No, the baby can't breathe in the womb.

              At 16:49: "Can't you let me have some oxygen?"

              You have to be really strong to live a life, a human life.

              At 17:07, laboring: "Please, I can't breathe."

              What else is it like to be dead? You don't need to breathe when you're dead.

              At 19:48: "Please, you said you would give me more oxygen."

              No, you gotta fight for it.

              At 21:21, gagging: "I'm throwing up. . . . I just threw up. I gotta poop, I gotta poop."

              Go ahead.

              "Ah, I'm going in my pants."

              Stay there with the poop and vomit.

              At 27:19, whimpering and gagging: "I can't breathe. I can't breathe."

              You still want to have this baby, Mom?

              With that, Candace's protests stopped. At 31 minutes into the session, she was only whimpering.

              "Are you OK?" she was asked.

              Candace, gagging, offered a faint "no."

              Over the next nine minutes, Watkins and her colleagues, apparently believing the girl was still resisting, challenged Candace further. Julie Ponder repositioned herself and increased the pressure, exerting herself so much that a prosecutor later described her as making "two grunting noises."

              "She needs more pressure," Ponder is heard to say on the videotape. "She really needs to fight if she wants air."

              The others repositioned themselves again. Candace whimpered and gagged.

              "It's getting pretty tight in here," Watkins is heard saying.

              "Yep," Ponder agreed. "Getting tighter and tighter, and less and less air all the time."

              At 40 minutes into the session, Jeane Newmaker asked, "Baby, do you want to be born?"

              To that question, they heard another faint "no" from under the pillows. That was Candace's last word.

              Nearly 20 minutes passed. No respiratory sounds at all were audible now. Julie Ponder reached through the pillows and sheet. "She's pretty sweaty, which is good," Ponder said. "It's wet inside there."

              Watkins gestured to her by putting her hand to her own face, apparently an inquiry about Candace's state. Ponder said, "Oh, I'm not sure. I touched her face and it's just sweaty. She's not answered. We could do this forever, just stay here."

              Another minute passed. Jeane Newmaker was distressed now, but not because she sensed danger. She felt rejected, she'd explain later, because Candace wasn't making the effort to be reborn.

              Watkins asked her to leave the room, saying she didn't want Candace to "pick up on your sorrow." Newmaker went upstairs and cried. Watkins joined her there briefly, encouraging her not to give up. Then Watkins returned to the rebirthing session, which Newmaker watched from upstairs on a closed-circuit TV monitor.

              Moments later, Watkins also asked McDaniel and Brita St. Clair to leave the room. Now Ponder and Watkins were alone with Candace. The two therapists talked together for four or five minutes. Then--70 minutes into the session, 30 minutes after Candace's last word--they decided to unwrap Jeane Newmaker's daughter.

              Her face was pale and flecked with vomit. Her lips and fingers were blue. Her skin felt clammy. Watkins said, "Oh there she is, she's sleeping in her vomit." Watkins called out Candace's name. There was no response.

              Watching on the monitor, Jeane Newmaker heard anxiety in Watkins' voice. She rushed downstairs. Candace looked so blue to her. In Durham, Newmaker was a nurse who cared for children, so at least now she knew what to do for her little girl. She began performing CPR. On and on she labored, even though she believed that Candace was already dead.

              'Ramifications' of Death

              Of all that has transpired since the death of Candace Newmaker, nothing is more telling than the passionate response of Connell Watkins' vocal admirers.

              The fusillade began with an Internet message from Watkins herself, declaring her innocence--"somehow the 10-year-old inexplicably stopped breathing"--and urging supporters to "pray for a total dismissal of all charges." Next came the supporters' Web site calling for letters and contributions to fight "a miscarriage of justice being carried out in the small town of Evergreen, Colorado." Finally came warnings about "ramifications"--How many more juvenile delinquents will we have? How many of these untreated children will kill another child? How many more Columbine incidents do we need?--if the therapists' trials went forward. The capstone was a comparison, offered by Foster Cline, that likened Watkins' situation to "what would have happened if Helen Keller, blind and deaf, had died in the hours-long battles that her young teacher, Anne Sullivan, was forced to put her through."

              During all this, most Evergreen therapists were busy distancing themselves from both Connell Watkins and rebirthing therapy. The Attachment Center's Web site featured a red blinking press release that made clear it had nothing to do with Candace's treatment. "Across the country, it's going to have an impact," worried Paula Pickle, the center's executive director. "We fear that agencies and funding sources will back away. We fear that people who write rules and regulations will say there can be no holding. We fear it's going to drive off people who really need help."

              Of course, that's precisely what attachment critics ardently desire. It's not likely to happen, though. There will always be desperate parents struggling with troubled children, whether they're called RAD kids or not. They will always face limited options, for few exist. So they will always seek alternative therapies, however controversial.

              There could be no better proof of this abiding demand than the 12th Annual ATTACh Conference held in Minneapolis early last October. One year after Jeane Newmaker walked the conference's aisles, half a year after Candace's death, ATTACh drew an even larger group, some 600 in all. Crowds once again thronged the hallways; therapists once again leaned into microphones and rolled their videotapes.

              They were not all "wackos," no more so than the year before. If some were overly fervent or militant, others radiated gentle probity. The most conscientious met behind the scenes, trying to draft standards aimed at preventing further abuses.

              How to tell them from the zealots, how to choose a true savior when you're at your wit's end? That was Jeane Newmaker's challenge, one she failed. I don't justify what she did, came the whispered comments at the ATTACh conference. But I can see how it happened.

              That was all to be heard in Minneapolis concerning the events last April at Connell Watkins' home. There was no public mention of Jeane or Candace Newmaker. Only an ATTACh membership directory, lying on a hotel counter, provided a visible reminder. There, on page 32, under the Ns, listed as a paid-in-full member, was "Jeane Newmaker, Durham, N.C." The identity she'd chosen for herself just weeks before Candace died: "Advocate."


              Times researcher Janet Lundblad assisted with this story.

                About This Story

                This story derives from numerous sources. They include court documents and testimony; interviews with dozens of therapists, parents, patients and state regulators involved with the world of attachment disorder therapy; interviews with neighbors and therapists who have encountered Jeane Newmaker; multiple visits to Internet Web sites, discussion groups and chat rooms; a review of the existing literature concerning reactive attachment disorder; local Colorado news reports; and attendance at the 12th Annual International Conference on Attachment and Bonding in Minneapolis, Oct. 5-7, 2000.

                The passages about events on the day of Candace Newmaker's death are drawn from legal documents and courtroom statements that describe and quote in detail from the videotape made that day, which remains sealed. Those documents and statements include a sworn affidavit executed by Jefferson County Sheriff's Investigator Diane Obbema; testimony at a preliminary hearing by Obbema, her supervisor, Sgt. Kristen Tomford, and fire department paramedic Larry Ferre; arguments at the hearing's close by Jefferson County Deputy Dist. Atty. Steve Jensen; and the court's order, issued by Jefferson County Court Judge Charles T. Hoppin on Aug. 17.

                None of those charged in the death of Candace Newmaker were available for interviews, but their comments to Jefferson County investigators are summarized in Diane Obbema's affidavit and courtroom testimony.[/list][/size]

                Copyright 2011 Los Angeles Times
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