Deborah D. Gray

Deborah D. Gray

Deborah D. Gray, MSW, is a social worker with a master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse University. Both degrees were awarded in 1981. Her area of specialization was “early bonding with high-risk infants and toddlers” at the Regional Perinatal Center at Upstate New York’s Medical Center. She is licensed as both a social worker and a mental health counselor in the State of Washington. She has worked as a therapist, counselor, “therapeutic foster parent,” instructor, and in child placement.

Gray’ practice is called Nurturing Attachments. She offers therapy services and training classes. She teaches a certificate program in “Attachment-oriented Therapy” and two post-graduate certificate training in “foster care and adoption therapy”: one through a non-profit organization called Cascadia Training and the other by Portland State University. She also states that she has delivered keynote addresses for ATTACh (2005; the trade organization for Attachment Therapy), the Joint Council of International Children's Services, the American Association of Adoption Attorneys, the Midwest Adoption Conference, and Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption (FRUA).

Gray has published two books: Attaching in Adoption (2002) and Nurturing Adoptions (2007). The earlier work endorses
Attachment Therapy, including holding therapy, the unrecognized “Attachment Disorder” diagnosis, the “cycle of attachment,” and numerous other works by Attachment Therapy proponents. Her second book claims to be a “companion” to the first.

In Her Own Words

— Holding Therapy —

When children have such fear and rage that they cannot work in this type of format, holding therapy is often the treatment indicated. The professional association, ATTACh, which is on the Resource List, can help parents and professionals who are interested in finding attachment Therapists trained in the use of holding techniques. – p. 84, Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today’s Parents, by Deborah D. Gray, Perspectives Press, Inc. 2002.

ATTACh has required all of its members to agree to a code of conduct to prevent harm to children. Additionally, when holding therapy is being used, ATTACh members are required to have protocols that detail their work. When people are using a great deal of control over a child, it is imperative to determine whether they are accountable to others, whether all licenses
are current, and whether they are operating with protocols. Established attachment centers are able to furnish protocols and ethical guidelines to parents contemplating holding therapy. – p. 84,
Attaching in Adoption

[W]hen young children destroy things, try to hurt others, or run away when upset, I suggest that parents place them tummy side down over the parent's lap...When the child calms down, turn him over in your lap and talk. If he begins a fight again, turn him back over. He needs to control himself for about thirty seconds without yelling or fighting in order to be let go. – p. 284, Attaching in Adoption

— Double Talk on Coercive Techniques —

Readers familiar with coercive techniques will find them singularly absent from Nurturing Adoptions. – p. 18, Nurturing Adoptions, Creating Resilience after Neglect and Trauma, by Deborah D. Gray, Perspectives Press, 2007.

The material in Nurturing Adoptions [2007] does not duplicate the information in Attaching in Adoption [2002]. Instead, they are companion books... p. 17, Nurturing Adoptions.

— “Attachment Disorder” —

Foster Cline, a child psychiatrist who specializes in diagnosing and treating children with serious attachment problems, has specific information on seriously disturbed children. While his work preceded some of the research and publication on disorganized attachments, it reflects a similar understanding of children who have the most serious reactions to a hostile environment and neglecting or abusing parents. Using the term the unattached child, Dr. Cline’s list is a working list that parents and clinicians reference.... It can be a valuable starting point from which parents and professionals can work to correctly identify children in need of treatment....
Foster Cline M.D.’s checklist for Symptoms of Attachment Disorder...

  1. Superficially engaging and charming behavior
  2. Lack of eye contact on parental terms
  3. Indiscriminate affection with strangers
  4. Lack of affection (cuddliness) on parents’ terms
  5. Destructiveness to self, others and material things (accident prone)
  6. Cruelty to animals
  7. Stealing
  8. Lying about the obvious
  9. Lack of impulse controls (hyperactive-type behavior)
  10. Learning lags
  11. Absence of conscience
  12. Lack of cause and effect thinking
  13. Abnormal eating patters
  14. Poor peer relations
  15. Preoccupation with fire
  16. Persistent nonsense questions and incessant chatter
  17. Inappropriate demands and cling behavior
  18. Abnormal speech pattern -- pp. 80-81, Attaching in Adoption

— Demonizing Children —

Fundamentally, there is a race against time for the most severely attachment-disordered children. Parents know that the child will be destructive to self or others if things do not turn around. Therapists think in terms of conduct disorders, complicated post-traumatic stress disorder, and criminal activity when they draw out the trajectory of the child with RAD who is not helped. – p. 84, Attaching in Adoption

— Psychodrama for Children —

Therapists will allow children to re-experience some of their conflicts in therapy with a different ending...I pretended to be Chad’s birthmother. I lay down on the couch….Acting as his birthmother, I told him nonchalantly, “I’ll bring strangers to the house at night when I want to. If you don’t want them to hurt you, then take care of it…And get your own food.”...My statement infuriated him. -- p. 83, Attaching in Adoption

— The Bogus “Attachment Cycle” —

As a group, children from Romanian and other Eastern European orphanages have entered Canada and the United States as unattached. The majority of these children have never had anyone in the orphanage available with whom to complete a cycle of attachment. – pp. 78-79, Attaching in Adoption

The Attachment Cycle Secure attachments normally develop in the first year of life, when parents meet children’s needs over and over and over again….Babies then move from feeling helpless, physiologically over-aroused, and angry, to having their needs met. As this pattern is repeated over and over, they learn that being dependent on a parent results in their needs getting met. – p. 19, Attaching in Adoption

The attachment cycle has been called the Season of the Soul. Children who miss this cycle can seem to others to be robotic or just plain angry. – p. 20,
Attaching in Adoption

— Attachment Therapy Parenting —

Ultimately, to promote attachment, a great deal of control has to be taken from children. – p. 41, Attaching in Adoption

[Under Resources] Families by Design…Nancy Thomas, a skilled therapeutic parenting specialist for attachment-disordered children… -- p. 372, Attaching in Adoption

The parenting style that helps most children described in this book is characterized by high structure and high nurture. Most parents are parenting children who are emotionally younger than their chronological ages. Even when their children arrive at older ages, parents use the amount of structure typically given to a younger child. – p. 61,
Attaching in Adoption

Natalie and John…have an emotional age of about three and four. In fact, they are six and seven….The rules are: number one, stay close enough that a parent can touch you; and number two, have a good time with your family. We love you!”
John says, Why do we have to stay with you? Why can’t we play on our own?”
Dad replies, “Great question. When you are good at staying close to us, then you will be ready to play on your own for a while. Today, you are not ready….” -- p. 62,
Attaching in Adoption

— Other Nonsense —

One teen...had developed multiple personalities from severe abuse... -- p. 155, Attaching in Adoption

After a long snuggle parents can ask children if they have their hearts or “love tanks” full of love. Sometimes children are able to say “Yes.” Parents can then go on to say, “Can you hold on to the ‘I get enough love feeling?” Children can practice feeling that feeling. If children do not feel full love tanks after snuggles, they can get more snuggles. If they still have that empty feeling, move on to a discussion about the empty feeling. – p. 28, Attaching in Adoption

— Acknowledgements —

Thank you Beverly Cuevas, Tom Gill, Sandy Swan, Rebecca Perbix Mallos, Sandy Bogh, and Connie Dawson....I am the grateful recipient of the rich theoretical and practice information made possible by the work of such greats as Vera Fahlberg…Foster Cline…Bessel van der Kolk...and Nancy Thomas. – p. 8, Attaching in Adoption

— Recommendations —

Resource BooksGregory KeckFoster Cline and Cathy Helding…Vera Fahlberg…Daniel A. HughesRichard Delaney (1991, 1993)…Ronald S. FedericiHopkins-BestNancy Thomas… -- pp. 374-378, Attaching in Adoption

Books for Professionals, Parents and Children
Adopting the Hurt Child...Gregory Keck and Regina Kupecky...Great book for those adopting older (school age and up) or seriously troubled children. Also check out their companion book, Parenting the Hurt Child....
Toddler Adoption: The Weaver’s Craft. Mary Hopkins-Best...A guide to adjustment, attachment, learning issues and parenting for parents whose children arrive between ages one year and four years. – pp. 486-491, Nurturing Adoptions