Conrad Boeding

Conrad “Connie” Boeding was executive director of Human Passages Institute (HPI) in Lakewood, Colorado.

With an M.A. in education from the University of Northern Colorado, Boeding claims to have “spent many years teaching high school, coaching athletics and conducting a private practice before founding Human Passages Institute in 1992.” He also credits psychiatrist
Foster Cline with being influential in “launching” his career in 1983.

However, it wasn’t until January 4, 1993 that Boeding first became a “registered unlicensed psychotherapist” in the State of Colorado (a practice status requiring no special education or experience). Boeding claims to have worked towards a doctorate in psychology at the University of Denver, but he remained a registered unlicensed psychotherapist until that status lapsed on June 30, 2007. There is no evidence of Boeding ever holding a license in any mental health profession in Colorado.

HPI was a treatment and training facility, as well as a licensed child placement agency. Boeding claimed the “two-week intensive,” or “Dynamic Attachment Therapy Intensive” was the “core” of HPI’s treatment approach. He credits his experiences at Forest Heights Lodge in Evergreen, Colorado, with enabling him to invent “Dynamic Attachment Therapy” or DAT. HPI staff also offered Gestalt, Transactional Analysis, Core Energetics, EMDR and Neurolinguistic Programming.

In 2000, state investigators reported that HPI had “17 certified foster homes, 2 group homes, and 51 children in placement, 2 of which are private pay from out of state.” At that time, numerous problems were identified, and notably HPI was ordered to immediately stop employing a coercive restraint practice they called “blanket holds.”

Boeding’s associates at HPI have included Carol McKelvey, Randy Stanko, and Diane Feinberg. (Mr. Stanko claims his association with Boeding ended in 1994.)

Boeding is co-author, with Ed McManis, of
The Love Disorder (Passages Press, 1998) and co-author with Carol Conner McKelvey, LPC, of Children of Rage: Preventing Youth Violence after Columbine (Human Passages Institute, 2002) with a foreword by former Colorado governor Richard Lamm.

Boeding currently works as a counselor at Denver Academy, a private school (grades 1-12) for children with learning and behavioral disorders.

In His Own Words
— Most Telling —

  • We set up a series of holdings for [16-year-old] Kerry using Dynamic Attachment Therapy principles. … Very quickly, she was able to revisit her early-life trauma and give us her primary accompanying feelings of rage, despair, and terror.The Love Disorder (Lakewood, CO: Passages Press, 1998), p. 127
  • During the 10 sessions, we also focused on and held both parents, which allowed them to experience the holding for themselves and provided them with the opportunity to do some purging of their own pain. The Love Disorder (1998), p. 120
  • For Kerry, it took courage and trust to enter into this intense work to address the pain her infant self had experienced (perhaps even in the womb) because her parents had been too preoccupied with their own depression and anger.The Love Disorder (1998), p. 129
  • Michelle, at 17, was one of those teenagers who had managed to “slip through the cracks.” She was attractive — blond hair, blue eyes, nice smile. She wore a bit too much make-up and was very self-conscious about her clothes. Her nails were perfectly manicured, candy-striped, and she had a small tattoos of a rose just above her ankle that was visible when she wore shorts. … A week before she came to see me, she had overdosed on diet pills and alcohol.The Love Disorder (1998), p. 104
  • Michelle blossomed during the intensive. She actually looked fuller and more womanly when we finished. The Love Disorder (1998), p. 112

— “Dynamic Attachment Therapy” —

  • In the field of psychotherapy, attachment therapy is relatively new. One of several current interpretations and applications to the work being practiced around the world is Dynamic Attachment Therapy (DAT), as developed by my colleagues and me at the Human Passages Institute (HPI) in Lakewood, Colorado, (a suburb of Denver) since 1991. … [DAT] serves to treat some of the most resistant psychopathologies known to the mental health field. … [DAT] deals with the person on a deeper emotional level instead of a thinking, behavioral level. The Love Disorder (1998), p. 50
  • Dynamic Attachment Therapy is a method of confronting core emotional issues in a safe environment, allowing the patient to access their deepest feelings. As the child seeks inappropriate control, the therapists set tight limits, leading to control battles. The patient’s usual repetitive defense mechanisms are not allowed to be effective. The therapist wins the control battle on his/her terms by taking appropriate control. The child’s usual defenses of intellectualization, control and manipulation do not work. The child then feels safe enough to allow their deepest feelings to emerge and be expressed to the therapists…[A] sense of love and trust is developed. — “What is DAT?” [accessed 9/22/08]

— What State Investigators Reported —

  • Two frequently used techniques in DAT are “blanket holding” and “cuddle holding.” Of major concern was documentation of physical management, as well as the usage of “blanket holding” which as previously mentioned, is either not clarified by agency policy or is under appeal. Arrangements should be promptly made to insure the immediate cessation of these practices until agency policy clarification and a final appeal decision have been reached. Monitoring Report (December 20, 2000): Human Passages Institute, Child Placement Agency, Colorado Department of Human Services Division of Child Care [; accessed 9/22/08]

— Holding Therapy —

  • “Holding” is a therapeutic technique that involves literally holding the child comfortably. This is done by a team of two to four therapists for the purpose of keeping her safe and protected while she is encouraged to “re-visit” her early life trauma. Key to the process is her cathartic release of deep-seated emotions and traumatic memories that block her from forming loving, trusting relationships. During the process, she is not alone in her experience, as she was in the past. Instead, the therapists stay with her, validate her feelings, encourage her, show her that she can experience feelings, heightened arousal, and connection – and live through it. As the arousal state diminishes, the therapists or parents continue to meet her needs for touch, movement, and even food through rocking, and feeding her, thereby building trust and relationship. This response by the therapists/parents provides what is known as the “emotional corrective experience.” The Love Disorder (1998), p. 111
  • During the intensive … As we held him, we were also modeling for the parents how to set limits, what to reasonably expect behaviorally, and how to recreate the attachment cycle. The holdings also demonstrated the “how to” of the concept of bringing him in closer when he was struggling. The Love Disorder (1998), p. 120.

The Two-Week Intensive —

The core of our treatment at HPI involves “two-week intensive therapy” — “Dynamic Attachment Therapy Intensive” [; accessed 9/22/08]

—The Goal: Compliance —

  • A child who is securely attached … is primarily cooperative and obedient and rarely angry. The Love Disorder (1998), p. 95

— Rage & Catharsis —

  • Some therapists believed that behind all psychopathology was a rage-filled child; if we could lift the rage from her, the pathologies would also dissipate. At HPI, our experience with rage-filled children supports the premise that intense work focused on the child’s rage is needed. — The Love Disorder (1998), p. 139
  • Fear/Rage This is the basis for the underlying feelings states. While it is most often repressed and defended… — The Love Disorder (1998), p. 89

—Therapeutic Foster Homes —

  • A.J. was placed in one of our therapeutic foster homes during the intensive. … He was also expected to demonstrate the ability to cooperate, follow rules, and be affectionate on parental terms. The Love Disorder (1998), p. 119
  • A.J. and his parents were reunited after about three months. The Love Disorder (1998), p. 121

—The Velvet Box —

  • The velvet box is the context or the treatment milieu within which the child is placed. … The outside walls of the box and the quality of functioning within the box are constantly defined and reinforced by the continuous use of feedback from the adult partner. This feedback comes in the form of “high confrontation/high support.” The Love Disorder (1998) pp. 133-134
  • As the disruption continues, so does the reeling in — and the velvet box continues to shrink (her freedom is restricted more and more) until her entire world eventually comes to a screeching halt. … The adult has the ability to stop the child’s world (e.g. he does not go to lunch, he does not go to school, he does not go to bed, etc.) until he can work through the conflicting feelings and take care of what was interrupted in his life. The Love Disorder (1998), pp. 145-146

— Scare Tactics —

  • Bang! Bang! You’re Next … I do want to paint the alarming picture that is developing … I would add that there is a high probability that each of the killers suffered from attachment issues. The Love Disorder (1998) pp. 13-14
  • [For] this bright young man, graduation marked a triumph over a history of problems. At 18, he could just as easily have been marching to jail, handcuffed, his mugshot the only picture snapped. — The Love Disorder (1998), p. xviii
  • They often become risk-takers with sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll… The Love Disorder (1998), p. 1
  • Clearly, there are many control issues involved when partnering with these children who fear that if they are controlled, they will ultimately kill or be killed. The Love Disorder (1998), p. 146

— The Bogus “Needs Cycle” —

  • When that “little bundle if id“ (the infant) cries to get her needs met — and that natural, “built-in” request mechanism is met with a loving, caring response from the caregiver — a relationship begins. When this cycle is repeated consistently over the first two years of life, an attachment is formed. The Love Disorder (1998), p. 27
  • The essence of Cline’s theory is illustrated in what he terms “The Soul Cycle” — or what attachment therapists typically call “the Attachment Cycle.” The Love Disorder (1998), p. 34
  • As the child becomes needy, he no longer feels safe. He enters a state of tension/arousal (fight or flight/kill or be killed). “Am I going to die if I don’t get my needs met? If I don’t get fed?” The tension gives rise to an expression of the discomfort the child is experiencing. For an infant, that expression is typically rage. The Love Disorder (1998), p. 35
  • [T]hroughout childhood, the dynamics of the attachment cycle repeat thousands of times. Even into the teens years… The Love Disorder (1998) pp. 41-42
  • Our job as adult partners is to recreate the successful completion of the attachment cycle. … In DAT, we believe that for the disorder to be reversed, the child must quantitatively experience more cycle successes than he experienced cycle disruptions earlier in life. The Love Disorder (1998), p. 136

— Bogus “Attachment Disorder” Diagnosis —

  • Attachment-disordered children are driven to be in control at all times. The Love Disorder (1998), p. 101
  • The inability to give or receive good eye contact, under-developed conscience, and poor cause-and-effect thinking are more examples of generic traits common to attachment-disordered children. The Love Disorder (1998), p. 102
  • The attachment-disrupted child … Some of the typical behaviors patterns we see every day are…Not affectionate on parents’ terms, Word games…Accident prone, Crazy lying...Learning lags, Learned helplessness, Aggressive behavior, Lack of impulse control, Promiscuous behavior The Love Disorder (1998), p. 91
  • For diagnostic purposes, the DSM-IV can only deal with the observable and measurable outer layer of presenting symptoms. In other words, the true, underlying cause of the child’s behavior may be masked by other, more obvious symptoms. The Love Disorder (1998), p. 101
  • [T]his character disorder, sociopathic personality, was the first type of attachment disorder to really be studied by Foster Cline and others. … It is the epitome of the Love Disorder…The Love Disorder (1998), p. 114
  • [W]e see RAD as an umbrella diagnosis that can be the underlying origin of many other “more popular” diagnoses, such as [PTSD, ADD, ADHD,] Conduct Disorder, Major Depression, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Multiple Personality Disorder. What are clinically known as Axis II diagnoses of Narcissistic, Dependent, Antisocial, and other personality disorders may also have underlying diagnoses of RAD.The Love Disorder (1998), p. 93

— Freudian Beliefs —

  • Attachment-disordered children also typically present themselves as having oral issues – the most common being hoarding and gorging on food. This can spin off into eating disorders, addition to sweets, incessant chattering, speech delays, and incredibly articulate verbal arguing. These types of oral problems indicate attachment disruption that occurred both specifically around food deprivation itself but also generally about not getting needs met during that first year of life. The Love Disorder (1998), p. 101
  • Disruptions during the second year of life also manifest later and present as anal issues. It is very common for attachment-disordered children to have bed-wetting and feces-smearing as symptomological behavior as late as ages 8, 9, and even into the teen years. The generalized behaviors from anal issues look like lack of impulse control. … Further, the child can present as excessively stubborn, inflexible in thinking and acting, rigidly perfectionistic. The Love Disorder (1998), pp. 101-102

— Birth “Trauma” —

  • Disruptions that result from the break in the mother-infant attachment can have many causal factors, ranging from the obvious — such as the primal wound of adoption … to the more subtle, and, therefore, more difficult-to-detect factors such as … birth trauma… The Love Disorder (1998), p. 51
  • Have a working knowledge of the causal conditions that disrupt healthy attachment… Prenatal conditions: wanted or unwanted pregnancy…birth trauma… The Love Disorder (1998), p. 88
  • Much of the difficulty that we see in foster and adoptive families occurs when the traumatic experiences with the birth situation … are transferred by the child from the original sources of the trauma onto the adoptive or foster parents… The Love Disorder (1998), p. 140
  • The goal of DAT is to heal the early life trauma… The Love Disorder (1998), p. 61

— Dismissing Conventional Therapy —

  • [T]raditional sit-up-and-talk therapies are not effective with attachment-disordered children. The Love Disorder (1998), p. 138

— The Bogus Notion of Being Developmentally “Stuck” —

  • I see children who are “stuck.” The Love Disorder (1998), p. 61

— Acknowledgements —

  • I wish to thank … the great Dr. Foster Cline, who helped me launch my career in 1983.… The Love Disorder (1998), pp. ix-x
  • A major influence was my wonderful doctoral internship in 1986 at Forest Heights Lodge in Evergreen, Colorado, with Russ Colburn, Vera Fahlberg, and Ray Curtis as my mentors. Their perspectives gave the insight that was to become the basis for the Dynamic Attachment Therapy we have developed at Human Passages.… The Love Disorder (1998), pp. ix-x