AT News
Archived Issue
Originally emailed 4 December 2002

Utah Quacks Have the Ball, But Not for Long!

As this is written, a “Believe It or Not” sort of history is being made in Utah.

Utah Attachment Therapists — under severe threat by pending legislation to outlaw their abusive practices (
i.e., coercive restraint therapies) and being pursued relentlessly by state regulators — have stunned the state by applying for their very own regulatory board!!!

This morning, a panel of Utah legislators meets in a 3-hour session to consider the application for the creation of the “Attachment Holding Therapy Board.”

Observers, referring to this more accurately as the “Board for Child Abusers,” have found the 250+ page application revealing:

  • The application’s large list of supporters includes the names of many children, with one child known to be as young as 3 months old.

  • The proposed board would consist of five members, including the only two AT therapists in Utah currently in good standing: Lawrence Van Bloem, LCSW, and Jennie Murdock Gwilliam, LCSW. Both now face charges of horrific abuse by DOPL. The other AT therapist seat goes to William Goble, the North Carolina (now Florida) psychologist who diagnoses children as “attachment disordered” via fax (e.g. Candace Newmaker).

  • Fattening out the board is a chair reserved for someone who trains AT therapists. This position apparently goes to self-declared “therapeutic parenting expert,” former dog-groomer and Colorado resident, Nancy Thomas. Thomas’ parenting methods have been linked to several criminal child abuse cases. A fifth seat on the board would be reserved for someone who has experienced “holding therapy.”

AT NEWS’ activist-on-the-ground Larry Sarner reports from the hearing room that those speaking against the application this morning include the Utah Medical Association, the Utah chapters of the APA, ApA, and Marriage and Family Therapists. Utah’s DOPL will speak to the fact that psychotherapy is already regulated in Utah. And in a bold action, the Utah Chapter of the NASW, will present their just-passed policy condemning coercive holding therapies, a move which we can only hope will be duplicated by the national NASW.

Sarner, also considering that several Utah legislators on the panel are strongly anti-regulation, boldly predicts a unanimous defeat of the AT application for their own protectionist board.

While there are few AT practitioners in Utah, their fate now is certain to cause a ripple effect across the country. Certainly, AT proponents know this and are making extreme efforts keep AT live and well in the state. If AT can be defeated in Utah, a state known for its warm embrace of alternative health practices, it will go down elsewhere, too.

Caution: links may have aged since this AT News was first emailed.