AT News
Archived Issue
Originally emailed 8 August 2003

Dead Child’s Attachment Therapist in Crosshairs

Earlier, AT News reported that Elizabeth Randolph, Ph.D., often referred to as the leading Attachment Therapy (AT) “researcher”, had to move her unlicensed practice of AT from Utah to Colorado. Now another AT luminary, Keith Reber of the Cascade Center, is in the crosshairs of Utah regulators.

Mr. Reber, whose masters thesis on AT at the Phillips Graduate Institute in California, and a related article of his in one of Phillips’s publications, are often cited as part of the supportive canon for AT, two weeks ago lost his license to practice Marriage and Family Therapy in Oregon. Hard on the heels of that action, Utah officials are seeking a cease-and-desist order to bar him from the practice of mental-health therapy in that state.

Moreover, investigative reporting by a Utah newspaper suggests that Mr Reber was also involved in the 2002 water-intoxication death of Cassandra Killpack. If the identification by the
Deseret News is correct, he was effectively the intake therapist for Cassandra at the Cascade Center, where the 4-year-old was undergoing an AT “intensive” when she died at home. He also reportedly gave parenting advice and participated in the intensive itself, including physically restraining the girl and knuckling her ribs (both classical actions in “holding therapy”, a/k/a AT).

Cassandra’s adoptive parents have been charged with child-abuse homicide in forcing the girl to drink over a half-gallon of liquid. The parents have claimed the forced drinking was advised by therapists at the Cascade Center, a charge that Cascade officials have denied. (
AT News will go into more detail on this case in a forthcoming edition.)

Mr Reber gained a Marriage and Family Therapist license in Oregon in 1999. Within two years, state regulators were trying to revoke it for violations “so egregious and reprehensible” that the public needed to be protected from him. The violations were for the practice of “holding therapy” (AT), including:

  • Wrapping clients in sheets or blankets (known in the AT trade as “angel wraps” and “burritos”), then lying on top of them.

  • Pushing his fingers, knuckles, or fists hard into children’s chests, rib cages, or abdomens, on occasion causing vomiting as a consequence.

  • Screaming in clients’ faces.

  • Failure to document, perform comprehensive assessments, develop treatment plans, or gain informed consent.

  • Performing physically intrusive techniques that are not sanctioned by any recognized national professional associations.

After two years of delays, Mr. Reber finally informed the Oregon Board considering his case that he was abandoning his defense. A year earlier, he informed the Board that he would not renew the license because he was living and practicing in Utah. As a result, his Oregon MFT license was revoked.

Meanwhile, Utah regulators were seeing many of the same actions by Mr. Reber that Oregon had found “egregious and reprehensible”, except that he has no Utah license to revoke, notwithstanding a bizarre claim to have an “ecclesiastical license” to practice in Utah. Cascade Center issued a statement that they were aware that Mr. Reber had such a license, though they claim that he was nevertheless hired only as “administrative staff.” Regulators are seeking an order that Mr. Reber cease and desist from the practice of mental health therapy in the state of Utah.

Mr. Reber’s ecclesiastical license turns out to be “Credentials of Ministry” granted him over the internet by the Universal Life Church. (
AT News staff last week used “Facilitated Communication” to enable one of our cats to request and be granted identical credentials from the ULC; it took about 5 minutes online.)

According to the regulator’s complaint, Mr. Reber’s administrative duties at Cascade included signing treatment proposals with the title “therapist,” diagnosing and treating children with Reactive Attachment Disorder, and running “Hope for the Children” out of Cascade’s basement. “Hope” is a non-profit organization which raises money putatively to pay for the treatment of indigent patients. Payments (donations) for Mr. Reber’s services provided to Cascade’s clients, such as the Killpacks, were made to “Hope”. The
Deseret Morning News investigation revealed that “Hope” raised nearly $118,000 for Cascade’s benefit in 2002.

Mr. Reber reportedly left Cascade’s employment two weeks ago, for unrevealed reasons. He and other Cascade principals are under subpoena in the Killpack criminal case.
For more:
  • Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, “Petition for Order to Cease and Desist,” In the Matter of the Investigation of Keith Alvin Reber, 10 Jul 2003 link

  • Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists, “ Final Order by Default of License Revocation,” In the Matter of Keith A. Reber, 22 Jul 2003 link

  • Geoffrey Fattah, “Orem therapist lost license over controversial methods,” Deseret Morning News, 7 Aug 2003 link

  • Universal Life Church for “instant online ordination”

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