AT News
Archived Issue
Originally emailed 2 August 2003

See a Demo of “Holding Therapy” Online

Activists working to ban restraint as psychotherapy in Utah and elsewhere have a website that now includes a film clip demonstration of “Holding Therapy”: [See currently here]

This film segment is from a
48 Hours/CBS program called “Afraid of Our Children” (1995). A boy client has been wrapped in a blanket — called an “angel wrap” — and is held down by 3-4 Utah Attachment Therapists. The female therapist digs her elbow into the boy’s ribs; this is supposed to cause a release of repressed anger. While the boy writhes in pain, AT therapist Craig Ramsey explains to the reporter that the boy is really angry at his [birth] father, but is projecting it onto the therapists. While the boy pleads for the therapists to stop hurting him, AT therapist Lawrence Van Bloem (to the right of the boy) appears to insist that the boy maintain eye contact with him — another classic feature of AT.

North Carolina Bans “Rebirthing”

Similar in almost all respects to “Candace’s Law” passed in Colorado two years ago, North Carolina’s new statute makes it unlawful for a therapist “to reenact the birthing process in a manner that includes restraint and creates a situation in which a patient may suffer physical injury or death.” As in Colorado, a first offense is a misdemeanor and a second offense is a low-level felony.

Both bills follow on the 2000 death in Colorado of a North Carolina girl,
Candace Newmaker, during a “two-week intensive” in Attachment Therapy (AT). She had been sent to Colorado on the advice of Attachment Therapists operating in North Carolina. The 10-year-old girl died from asphyxiation during a “rebirthing” session where she pleaded for her life, but her screams were disregarded by the five adults in the room, including her adoptive mother, Jeane Newmaker, a pediatric nurse at Duke University in Durham.

Though its preamble correctly identifies “rebirthing” as a form of Attachment (Holding) Therapy, the bill actually received the active support of holding therapists in North Carolina. They recognize that no holding therapist in the state is or will be doing rebirthing anyway. Passing the bill, then, forestalls other legislative action that might outlaw what they actually do on a daily basis in North Carolina — restraining children
as therapy — putting those children at substantial risk for the same physical and emotional abuse that befell Candace in North Carolina before her death. It is expected that having passed the rebirthing bill, state legislators will not re-open the subject for effective reform in the foreseeable future.

Attachment Therapists operate in North Carolina through a child-abuse loophole in the state’s anti-restraint laws which permit restraint when “necessary as a measure of therapeutic treatment.” Attempts to have the bill close this loophole failed repeatedly in the legislative process as Attachment Therapists complained that they would be unable to deliver “effective” treatment of children with “Attachment Disorder” if the loophole was closed.

There is a dearth of scientific evidence that AT is effective in any way for changing the behavior of children for the better. Many professional organizations around the country, however, deem its procedures — irrespective of rebirthing — as abusive to the children who are forced to endure it. Its use of restraint is considered dangerous.
So for the time being, North Carolina’s Attachment Therapists can continue their dangerous and abusive practices unchecked.

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