What is Attachment Therapy?
Attachment Therapy (AT) is a growing, underground movement for the “treatment” of children who pose disciplinary problems to their parents or caregivers. AT practitioners allege that the root cause of the children’s misbehavior is a failure to “attach” to their caregivers. The purported correction by AT is — literally — to force the children into loving (attaching to) their parents.
The methods employed in AT are among the most disrespectful, degrading, insensitive, and harsh (i.e., brutal) imaginable. They are intended to overcome the resistance of a child to total obedience to the mother. They are employed until the child’s will is completely broken. If a child is stubbornly resistant to the treatment or the desired outcome — as understandably he or she often is — the brutality of the treatments escalates. This can go on, around the clock, for months or years.
Most often the children targeted for AT are those who have been adopted or are in foster care; a disproportionate number are of minority race or ethnicity, suffer from autism or mental retardation, or have physical disabilities. Such children are, not coincidentally, among the most vulnerable and defenseless.
AT has two major components to it. First, there is a hands-on treatment involving physical restraint and discomfort, termed psychotherapy by the professional or paraprofessional “therapists” who carry it out. This is usually accompanied by the second component, a phalanx of parenting techniques which brings AT brutality into the home, on a 24/7 basis. Both components are without basis in psychological theory or research evidence.
This part of ACT’s website examines and exposes, in detail, various aspects of this horrible practice.
— Available Essays —
Attachment Therapy: Child Abuse by Another Name: An introductory overview of the whole phenomenon of AT.
Abusive Methods: A succinct (but long!) list of things children can and do experience during sessions with an AT professional.
RAD vs AD: The unrecognized “Attachment Disorder” diagnosis bears no resemblance to Reactive Attachment Disorder.
AT versus Conventional Therapies: Point-by-point differences AT has with more humane, validated treatments.
Reactive Attachment Disorder vs. Attachment Disorder The recognized RAD diagnosis compared to the wildly inclusive and unrecognized diagnosis used in Attachment Therapy.
Research and psychotherapy: Let the buyer beware: Not all research means what is attributed to it, and parents should become sophisticated consumers.
EBT or Not EBT? Or, When Is an Evidentiary Basis on the Level?: A claim of “evidence-based treatment” is only as believable as the evidence used to support the claim.
Valid Evidence for AT?: A look at the latest claims of an evidence base for AT.
Attachment Therapy: Abusive Parenting Techniques: A succinct listing of the many things parents are expected to do to a child that makes home life unbearable — for the entire family.
Attachment Therapy Parenting Methods: A detailed account of the many things parents are expected to do to a child that makes home life unbearable — for the entire family.
A Review of a Review of the RADQ: The problem of treating the RADQ seriously as a valid psychometric instrument.
Reparenting: A quick look at the bogus notion of re-doing a child’s development.
Government Subsidies for AT: How US and state taxpayers are picking up the tab for this deliberate maltreatment of children.
What Makes a Proponent of Attachment Therapy: ACT sorts out the defining characteristics of an Attachment Therapist, or of a proponent of AT.
An Open Letter to ATTACh: Professor Jean Mercer explains to the trade group for Attachment Therapists what might be required for them to be respected by professionals.
“Ordinary Child Abuse versus ‘Nancy Thomas Methods’: What Investigators Should Know,” by Jean Mercer, PhD, ChildMyths, 25 Jan 2016.