AT News
Archived Issue
Originally emailed 15 May 2004

Taking His Licks: Colorado Attachment Therapist Disciplined, Again

On February 18, 2004, Attachment Therapist Neil Feinberg, LCSW, agreed to another three-year probation by the Colorado Board of Social Work Examiners.

The action stems back to a complaint filed on September 5, 2001, that Feinberg had used a “licking technique” while he “rested on his elbows atop [an 8-year-old client].” The child was at the time “pinned on his back underneath [Feinberg]” when Feinberg licked the child from neck to forehead.

Feinberg admitted to the licking charge. There was, however, no further the mention in the stipulation about the child being put in a dangerous and undoubtedly painful restraint position — one that is likely to restrict breathing. Nor is there mention about the risk of transmitting disease to the child through saliva, such as hepatitis, CMV, Epstein-Barr virus, or herpes.

Feinberg claimed he learned the licking method from
Martha Welch, MD, and that it is “an intrusive technique, effective with children” with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Dr. Welch is a psychiatrist on the faculty of Columbia University and author of the still popular book Holding Time (1988). Welch runs AT centers in New York and Connecticut. She trains and supervises parents in coercive restraint practices, including “compression” holds. Welch made several training tapes (one with a federal grant), and in one such tape, a small boy, who appears to be lying under his father, is urged to lick his mother’s face.

A long-time consulting therapist for the Attachment Center at Evergreen (or ACE, recently renamed the Institute for Attachment and Child Development), Feinberg was also an associate of the currently imprisoned Attachment Therapist Connell Watkins. The unlicensed Watkins claimed at her trial to be working under Feinberg’s social work license. Before being killed, 10-year-old Candace Newmaker endured a compression session in which her large adoptive mother lay on top of her and licked her face.

The stipulation states Feinberg claimed to have “experimented with the ‘licking technique’ for a very brief time, two to three months, and has not utilized it for well over three years.” But to all who have seen it, Feinberg’s most unforgettable role as therapist-from-hell was in a 1993 AT training tape made by ACE in which Feinberg demonstrates his considerable abilities to terrorize and torture children. At one point, the action is curiously freeze-framed while Feinberg yells in the face of a nine-year-old boy restrained on his lap: “You don’t need to be scared of me. … I’m not going to hurt you. I’ll yell at you. I’ll piss you off. I’ll spit on you. I’ll lick your goddamn face, but I’m not going to hurt you.”

The nature of Feinberg’s previous offenses is unknown. That charge resulted in a probation ending 9 November 2000, so it is possible that the licking incident occurred during or immediately after that probationary period. Records reveal another stipulated probation expiring in 1984, and a letter of admonition in 1990.

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