Deborah Hage

Deborah Hage

Deborah E. Hage is a Registered Unlicensed Psychotherapist in Colorado, and a self-professed Attachment Therapist, presently operating from her home in Silverthorne, Colorado.
Hage initially took two of her children in 1986 to the Attachment Center at Evergreen (ACE, now doing business as the Institute for Attachment and Child Development), where she was introduced to “therapeutic foster care.” She learned “holding” techniques from a variety of therapists, including
Neil Feinberg, John Alston, Michael Orlans, Gregory Keck, and Daniel Hughes.

Hage became professionally associated with her children’s therapist at ACE, Connell Watkins, starting in 1989, and remained so until Watkins’s arrest and conviction for the killing of
Candace Newmaker during a “rebirthing” session. She herself had been involved in at least one preceding rebirthing session on a child with Watkins.

From approximately 2002 on, Hage joined together with others who had been part of
Connell Watkins and Associates and created Turning Point. This business offers one- and two-week intensive treatment programs for children suffering from Reactive Attachment Disorder, “Attachment Disorder,” Bi-Polar Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Hage and Neil Feinberg act as lead therapists, while others act as “Parents Extraordinaire” offering so-called “Powerful Parenting.”

Hage has said, “I travel all over the world. I’ve been in orphanages…probably more orphanages in more countries than almost anybody in the world, because I do orphanage assessments for my agency.” That agency was the Maine Adoption Placement Service (MAPS); she was director of MAPS Colorado, which she described as “my [small] therapeutic foster care and adoption agency.” Among its offered services, MAPS Colorado did adoption home studies.

Hage claims to lecture widely in the US and Canada and self-publishes several books under the “Parenting with Pizazz” rubric. She also claims to contribute chapters and articles on therapeutic parenting to sundry publications.

In 2009, Hage was disciplined by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, along with
Neil Feinberg whose license was permanently revoked. Her probation ended in 2012.

In Her Own Words

— Most Telling —

  • …[W]ith the unattached children, it is necessary to “disturb the disturbed.” And unpredictability becomes a crucial ingredient. Therapeutic Parenting: It’s a Matter of Attitude! (Silverthorne, CO: Parenting With Pizazz Publications, 1999), p. 61

  • The use of paradoxical directives and “ordeals” is limited only by the parent’s and therapist’s imagination… — “Paradoxical Techniques,” online training program (3 CEUs), Foster Care & Adoptive Community onlinetext

  • …[T]he point of the holding therapies is not to manipulate emotional pain. The pain is already there and does not need a holding therapist to create it. Therefore, one goal of the holding therapies is to allow the child to release those emotions and memories… For What It’s Worth: Philosophical and Theological Musings (Silverthorne, CO: Parenting With Pizazz Publications, 1999), p. 51

  • One of the things that we do with kids who are Attachment Disordered is we don’t tell them what’s going to happen next… — “The Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun”. Presentation at 1999 NACAC Conference (Pasadena, CA: North American Council on Adoptable Children, 31 July 1999, audiotape)

Rebirthing —

  • Q [prosecution]: Okay. You said you were involved in one rebirthing with Connell Watkins; is that correct?
    A: We do them periodically. … Possibly three. … Maybe two, maybe three…
    Q: …Now, can you explain what procedure you used to wrap the children when you did the rebirthings with Connell Watkins or Julie Ponder?
    A: …[W]e wrapped the sheet up around them and twisted it up over the heads. Then we put a pillow at the back and a pillow at the feet and a pillow at the knees, I believe…
    Q: …You had a child wrapped underneath a sheet, head underneath the sheet, for an hour and ten minutes?
    A: Yes.
    Q: How long ago was that?
    A: Oh, about a year ago.
    Q: …Now, the children that you participated in these rebirthing session with, did they yell that they could not breathe?
    A: Typically.
    Q: And what was your response?
    A: I know they can breathe, and so I was not alarmed. … children can breathe through sheets; otherwise, you wouldn’t put them on beds for children. … Cannon Sheets would be appalled if they thought people couldn’t breathe through their sheets.
    Q: Well, I doubt that Cannon foresaw the use of their sheets in this manner. — Testimony in People of Colorado vs. Connell Jane Watkins (Golden, CO: Colorado District Court, 16 Apr 2001), (Colorado Court of Appeals, Case No. 01CA1313, Transcript on Appeal, 19:111-144), pp. 134-137

Ordeal Therapy —

  • The child needs to be confronted, “manipulated” if necessary through paradoxical and other interventions, some of which may have the appearance of “ordeals,” in order to achieve the greater good of maintaining the placement by quickly bringing about change. — “Paradoxical Techniques” onlinetext

  • Not only do many religions emphasize that accepting suffering is beneficial, many prescribe specific ordeals such as fasting, rigorous prayer rituals and “turning the other cheek” to create both an intellectual acceptance as well as emotional and behavioral acceptance of the belief system. — “Paradoxical Techniques” onlinetext

Holding Therapy —

  • …Much of the debate focuses on whether holding a child close, in and of itself, is harmful or beneficial. Many therapists maintain it is not only beneficial, it is essential. For What It’s Worth (1999), p. 50

  • Q: [defense]: And what does that private practice consist of? What do you do?
    A: Primarily holding therapy…
    Q: …Do you use the same techniques that Ms. Watkins uses as far as therapy goes?
    A: Yes, with great success. — Testimony in People vs. Watkins (2001), pp. 113-114

  • Q [prosecution]: Now, you also said that you’ve observed Connell Watkins work with approximately 40 children since 1986? … What do you mean when you say observed?
    A: Been a co-therapist.…
    Q: When you use holding therapy, do you use physical restraint with the children?
    A: Yes.
    Q: …I asked you whether or not the ethical principle of the National Association of Social Workers endorses physical restraint with children in treatment.
    A: I don’t know. I haven’t looked at it that way. — Testimony in People vs. Watkins (2001), pp. 119-120

  • …[T]he child is held while he struggles and screams, lashes out physically and verbally, and releases his pent-up rage/grief/fear. For What It’s Worth (1999), p. 54

  • A: …[T]hey’re still breathing and they’re still struggling and they’re still moving. They’re still kicking. They’re still scratching my back. They’re still head-[butting] me.
    Q [prosecution]: You’re talking about in the course of a holding therapy?
    A: Yeah. — Testimony in People vs. Watkins (2001), p. 140

  • Q [prosecution]: Does the child have the right to object to the physical contact that you do during the course of holdings?
    A: Oh, absolutely, and they do, vigorously.
    Q: And what happens when they object?
    A: We check to see if there is actually any damage being — you know, if there’s any possible way they could be getting hurt, and then we continue.
    Q: So for example, if a child said to you “I can’t breathe” during the course of a holding therapy, you would check to make sure that that absolutely wasn’t happening?
    A: It’s very common for children to say they can’t breathe. So you check it, and then you keep going. … The fact that they’re still talking and screaming means they’re breathing, so that is a way for me to check in and of itself.
    Q: …And have you covered the child’s mouth during the course of holding therapy?
    A: Yes, yes.
    Q: And have there ever been situations where the children are claiming that they cannot breathe?
    A: Always. — Testimony in People vs. Watkins (2001), pp. 122-124

  • Another goal of the holding therapies is to provide what is known as a “corrective emotional experience.” Many therapeutic philosophies argue that when children have been physically or sexually abused they have a heightened need for boundaries to be respected. These theories maintain that to touch an abused child is to re-traumatize the child. Holding therapists would be philosophically opposed to that line of reasoning. Rather, they would argue that child who have been touched in abusive ways need to be touched and have the touch followed by a loving, positive, resolution. They need to be held close through a high state of arousal, thus duplicating the high state of arousal which occurs during the height of the abuse.… For What It’s Worth (1999), p. 51

Holding Therapy for Infants —

  • Holding the infant close until he stops crying and struggling looks and feels harsh when the parents know if they just put the baby down he will stop crying and go to sleep.… For What It’s Worth (1999), p. 4

Contract Process —

  • I have a contract process that I use with the children in my care. That does not spell out everything that is going to happen during the therapy, but it does let the child know that I will be taking control. And if they want to get better, they need to follow my lead. — Testimony in People vs. Watkins (2001), p. 121

  • Q [prosecution]: Do children in your practice of doing holding therapy have a right to end their therapy sessions?
    A: Part of the contracting process is that it will go to a completion, and that will not be — they will not be able to say when they want it to end. — Testimony in People vs. Watkins (2001), p. 122

Reparenting” —

  • …after the rage/fear/grief is spent. That is when the child, in a state of total relaxation, is able to accept, often for the first time, the love and concern of others. The child is able to give and receive eye contact, to accept nurturing, feeding, touching, rocking, hugging. For What It’s Worth (1999), p. 51

  • Redo early developmental stages the child has missed feeding with a bottle … redo the missed development play. Therapeutic Parenting (1999), p. 20

Abandonment —

  • Therapists have remarked that they cannot “make” a child do in the office what he does at home. … .A child who is not cooperative in therapy can be taken to respite until ready to cooperate. — “Paradoxical Techniques” onlinetext

  • …[M]any [children] did not go home [after holding therapy] due to the parent’s exhaustion and inability to work through their own pain. For What It’s Worth (1999), p. 52

Belittling and Taunting Children —

  • Parents can say, “I am so glad you save your acting out for at home. For we know and love you anyway. You certainly don’t need the world to know how weird and lonely your actions are sometimes…” For What It’s Worth (1999), p. 15

  • One Liners as Double Binds …
    Don’t worry. Fourth grade will be offered again next year…
    The nice thing about this report card is that it is yours.…
    I’ll love you wherever you live… — “Paradoxical Techniques” onlinetext

  • The “Pissy” Protocols. … What [parents] cannot control is where and when the child urinates. What they can control in this instance is what food they place in front of the child. The paradoxical message to the child is: “…I have decided that I want to help you become the champion ‘pee’er’ in the world.…” The preferred food of champion ‘pee’ers’ is peas! Peas in your cereal. Peas on your pizza. Peas in your eggs. Peas in your potatoes. Peas in your sandwiches. From now on I am going to do everything in my power to make sure you have the food necessary to become the best at what you choose to do.” … ”Sweetheart, now that you are getting so good at this ‘pee’ing’ stuff, have you considered taking it to school for show and tell? Maybe you could ‘pee’ next to the teacher’s desk to show her your great skill.” — “Paradoxical Techniques” onlinetext

Creative Use of Foul Language —

  • When kids call us foul names in a really ugly tone of voice, we can reframe that whole dynamic just by changing the tone of voice. [sweetly] “Now, honey, you don’t mean to say you really think I’m a fucking asshole bitch, do you?” “How could you possibly. Oh, oh, yes, well, this is just your fucking asshole bitch mom telling you to take out the trash.” — “The Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun” (1999)

Alarms and Locks —

  • If she is snarky and uncooperative then an alarm needs to be put on [her bedroom door]. If she continually comes through the alarm there are several options. One is to have her spend 20 minutes longer in her room for every time she sets off the alarm. Another is to send her to respite. Another is to lock the door and remain nearby reading or working quietly. Some states allow a child to be locked in a room as long as an adult is within a certain distance. Some states only have laws which refer to foster children, not the parents [sic] legal children. This would need to be checked out. When it can be used, it is extremely effective. — “Going To Your Room” Practice (Silverthorne, CO: Parenting with Pizazz,, 2001; accessed 29 Nov 2005) onlinetext

Strong Sitting —

  • When the child sits it is all right for him to express his displeasure about the unfairness of life as long as he realizes that his negative verbalizations mark his sitting as poor sitting, not good sitting, so he must sit longer. Therapeutic Parenting (1999), p.58

  • Teaching a child strong sitting and jumping jacks are important to teaching a child to follow the mother’s lead and aid in healing the brain… — “Guiding Philosophy of Attachment Therapy” (Silverthorne, CO: Parenting with Pizazz,, 2003; accessed 30 Oct 2005)

Compliance Training —

  • The child must also be told to do things by the therapist in front of the mom and by the mom in front of the therapist. “Pick up the book and hand it to me.” “Go stand by the door and count to 10.” “Do 50 jumping jacks.” This rewires the child’s brain … This allows mom to see that she is not the only one being vilified and disrespected by the child. — “Going To Your Room” Practice (2001) onlinetext

  • If respite is not available then the parent can take the child home and place the child in his room until he is ready to cooperate. The parent can also make sure that life as the child knows it comes to a halt. The parent does not fix the child meals except peanut butter sandwiches … until the child capitulates… — “Paradoxical Techniques” onlinetext

  • After the child is cooperating he can be asked to do what he needs to practice, “Please go flush the toilet.” “Please get in the car and buckle your seatbelt”. When the child replied they didn’t use the toilet, they are not going anywhere in the car, the parent says, “I know. This is just a practice session…” Therapeutic Parenting (1999), p.50

The “Pivotal Behavior” —

  • …[A]n oppositional defiant, mood disordered or reactive attachment disordered child … must initially master one pivotal behavior. She must be able to go to her room (or do strong sitting) after one voice command. — “Going To Your Room” Practice (2001) onlinetext

  • If the child is older and refuses to comply with the command to go to her room, then, ideally, immediate arrangements will be made for her to go to a respite home. — “Going To Your Room” Practice (2001) onlinetext

  • If she is going to be allowed to demonstrate compliance the parent can say, “Now you need go to your room quietly for one hour. Before I will give you permission to come out you need to do 50 jumping jacks as often as I ask and then mop all the floors when you earn coming out. Good luck on that.” — “Going To Your Room” Practice (2001) onlinetext

  • The broken-record technique is calmly repeating the same phrase repeatedly. “Caroline, go to your room.” “Caroline, go to your room.” “Caroline, go to your room.” Key is not being sucked in to her diversions such as needing to go to the bathroom… — “Going To Your Room” Practice (2001) onlinetext

  • If she is in her room a very long time then she will need to have some sort of “potty-chair”. — “Going To Your Room” Practice (2001) onlinetext

  • When she is sent to respite then she cannot come home until she has done the chore, or one similar to the one she refused to do while at home, several times. She also needs to practice going to her room upon command and completing 50 good jumping jacks with hands clapped over her head, without stopping. The respite home must be emotionally distant and withholding so as not to compete with her family for warmth and attention. — “Going To Your Room” Practice (2001) onlinetext

  • During therapy the child must be directed to scream in the therapist’s face phrases expressing her anger over being sent to her room. — “Going To Your Room” Practice (2001) onlinetext

Caseworker and Compliance —

  • The caseworker must use part of her visit to send the child to her room and then have mom send the child to her room while she observes. For every time the child has not gone to her room when told the first time by her mom the caseworker sends her to her room twice during her visit. The mom and the caseworker can just sit at the kitchen table over a cup of coffee and talk casually while taking turns sending the child to her room. — “Going To Your Room” Practice (2001) onlinetext

Manipulation and Food —

  • I am not above candy, folks. Have I made that clear? Kids can be bought. — “The Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun” (1999)

  • …[F]atty sugars take a detour on the way to the stomach. They go first to the brain and heart and fix a message in the psyche, which forever links goodness and light to the giver of the sweet gift. For What It’s Worth (1999), p. 20

  • Parents need to make the holes in their child’s heart more important than the holes in their teeth. To that end, many therapeutic parents provide their children with fanny packs filled with candy. … Sugar spells love. Therapeutic Parenting (1999), p. 10

  • The food of choice is chocolate, though any sugar will serve the purpose of arousing in a child a feeling of good will… For What It’s Worth (1999), p. 1

  • Key is having the sweet pass directly from the parent’s hand to the child’s mouth. If the child feeds himself/herself the impact is minimized. — “Children Behave the Way They Behave” (Silverthorne, CO: Parenting with Pizazz,, 2003; accessed 30 Oct 2005) onlinetext

  • …when kids reject the food their mother presents, there is a level as a therapist I would wonder whether or not the child wasn’t also at some level rejecting the mom’s nurturing. — “The Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun” (1999)

  • …give the child a fanny pack of whatever it is he steals, hoards, hides and gorges. If it is candy then the pack is filled with candy. … The messages from mother are: “I am such a powerful mom I can love an overweight child.” “Oh, goody, look how much more of you to love there is now.” … The long term potential for success is even greater for children with diabetes as the child learns that if he indulges in his food passion he could die. … Obviously, the short term risk for failure is also greater as the child could die. — “Paradoxical Techniques” onlinetext

  • Even the most callous child cannot reject the aroma of “something lovin from the oven” and keep it from searing his brain with love. Therapeutic Parenting (1999), p. 41

Scare Tactics —

  • Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer were attachment disordered. John Hinckley was overindulged. All had murder on their mind. For What It’s Worth (1999), p. 40

  • In my experience, there are several reasons why a child would be so disaffected with society that he or she would want to blow it up and kill everyone in it. One is the child has been overindulged. The other is that the child has an attachment disorder. — “The Makings of a Human Bomb” (Silverthorne, CO: Parenting with Pizazz,, 2001; accessed 29 Nov 2005) onlinetext

School Issues—

  • Education must take a back seat to the parent/child relationship. — “Guiding Philosophy of Attachment Therapy” (2003)

  • …[I]t can be made clear in the child’s IEP that “parental involvement is not expected and will be counterproductive to the child’s educational goals. … ” Therapeutic Parenting (1999), p.37

  • The child’s potential behaviors must be shared with the school in advance … what consequences will be endorsed and what won’t… Therapeutic Parenting (1999), p. 37

  • Generally the parents are supportive of more severe consequences than the school would consider… —Therapeutic Parenting (1999), p. 38

  • A parental directive around grades and school work might be to tell the child you are glad they are failing in school as that means they are not working there so they have more time and energy for chores at home. — “Paradoxical Techniques” onlinetext

  • I called the school, and I said, “Send Matthew home.” … [H]e was like in third grade. It was a little bit of a walk. … I said, “Well, he didn’t fold his laundry.” “Excuse me. You are interrupting math to fold his laundry?” And I said, “I don’t care what he does for you. If he doesn’t do it right for me, he can do squat for you, and it doesn’t matter. … He does not need to be a sneaky mathematician. Send the boy home.” So the school now knew what they were dealing with. — “The Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun” (1999)

Dismissing Conventional Therapy —

  • Traditional therapies fail to help children with attachment disorders. — “Guiding Philosophy of Attachment Therapy” (2003)

  • …conventional children’s treatment programs. … often such ineffective treatments make the situation worse. For What It’s Worth (1999), p. 46

  • If the therapist wants to see the child behind closed doors and work on issues he and the child choose instead of the behaviors occurring at home, find another therapist! — “Going To Your Room” Practice (2001) onlinetext

“Attachment Disorder” —

  • …in my view — every child that has been adopted has some element of a wound. — “Resisting Resistance Increases Resistance — The Use of Paradoxical Techniques”. Presentation with Nancy C. Thomas at 15th Annual ATTACh Conference. (Pittsburgh, PA: Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children, 24-27 September 2003, audiotape).

  • The attachment disordered child sees himself as the center of the universe, exhibiting a sense of grandiosity. — “Guiding Philosophy of Attachment Therapy” (2003)

  • Other evidence of thought distortions are avoidance of eye contact and touch, preoccupation with blood and gore, poor peer relations, speech pathology, need to triangulate and manipulate adults, inclination toward self destructive behaviors, superficially engaging and charming, hoarding and gorging of food, and making false allegations of abuse. — “Guiding Philosophy of Attachment Therapy” (2003)

  • Q [prosecution]: Mrs. Hage, when you were being asked questions about … reactive attachment disorder … your answer was [your children] had attachment disorder?
    A: …[D]epending on how you define reactive attachment disorder, which is widely in dispute across the country, it would be — it could be reactive attachment disorder. We could call them attachment disorder.
    Q: Well, this one of the points I wanted to discus with you. The DSM-IV defines the criteria for diagnosing reactive attachment disorder, correct?
    A: It’s one definition.
    Q: But there is no disorder, I guess, listed in the DSM-IV of attachment disorder?
    A: No. — Testimony in People vs. Watkins (2001), p. 116

More on Attachment Therapy —

  • …the therapist must form an empathetic alliance with the mother. — “Guiding Philosophy of Attachment Therapy” (2003)

  • …the parents are present in the room at all therapy sessions. … to call the child on all lies and misrepresentations of their behavior. — “Case Management” Practice (Silverthorne, CO: Parenting with Pizazz,, 2003; accessed 30 Oct 2005) onlinetext

  • It is often helpful to have the child redo the behaviors exhibited at home. For example, if the child is calling the mom names, then the child comes to therapy and must say the same thing in the same tone of voice at the same volume to the therapist that he/she said to the mom at home. If the child had a tantrum at home then he/she must re-create the tantrum in the therapist’s office on the therapist’s terms. … If the child refuses to cooperate in therapy then the respite provider must step in and keep the child until the child is ready to do what is required for the therapist. — “Case Management” (2003) onlinetext

“Eye Contact on Parents’ Terms” —

  • Reciprocal eye contact is … a pivotal part of making a connection with an adopted child. For What It’s Worth (1999), p. 1

Paradoxical Techniques —

  • Paradoxical techniques that rely on the element of control are numerous. A therapist could insist, as Zaslow did, that a behavior a child engaged in at home must be duplicated during therapy. … The first step in taking control of a behavior is to have the child do it on the therapist’s or parents’ terms. — “Paradoxical Techniques” onlinetext

  • “Ordeals” are stressful, trying, troubling, difficult and make people miserable and uncomfortable. Using paradoxical techniques can often be perceived then as undesirable and tortuous, with no rationale. They can be misinterpreted as abusive or unloving. — “Paradoxical Techniques” onlinetext

  • Parents can look for other ways to confound the child’s thinking about the value of his lying. One way is to lie to the child. — “Paradoxical Techniques” onlinetext

  • Children who steal have been effectively paradoxed by telling the child to steal. — “Paradoxical Techniques” onlinetext

  • Hand feeding a child who has just screamed obscenities at mother a bowl of ice cream can throw the child’s resistance to nurturing totally off guard. — “Paradoxical Techniques” onlinetext

Respite and Therapeutic Foster Care —

  • The respite provider needs to keep in mind. … The child is abusive to her parents, not abused by her parents; the perpetrator, not the victim. — “Providing Family Friendly Respite for Foster Parents” (Silverthorne, CO: Parenting with Pizazz,, 2003; accessed 30 Oct 2005) onlinetext

  • [Respite] must provide a safe, yet emotionally distant, environment. — “Case Management” (2003) onlinetext

  • …everything and anything that has sentimental or financial value needs to be removed. … (A typical bedroom of a child just entering therapeutic foster care has a bed and a bookshelf for a minimum amount of clothes and toys. That is all.) — “Going To Your Room” Practice (2001) onlinetext

  • Respite … Done right and done well the child will see that the source of all goodness and light is her parents. … She will see that respite is so unfun that she will want to stay at home … In order for this to happen, respite providers must be emotionally distant and the tasks assigned must be physically demanding. — “Providing Family Friendly Respite for Foster Parents” (2003) onlinetext

  • …Having a good attitude in respite does not earn her any privileges. … Meals consist of non-sugar cereal for breakfast and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, milk/juice, and fruit for lunch. Dinner can be what the family eats only if her behavior and attitude have been exceptional. … Respite providers … will avoid all of the bonding interactions such as eye contact, touch, movement, smiles and sweet food. — “Providing Family Friendly Respite for Foster Parents” (2003) onlinetext

  • If she did a bad job on a chore then she needs to practice doing the chore. Even if the floor is mopped, if that is what she needs to work on then she can keep re-mopping the floor. — “Providing Family Friendly Respite for Foster Parents” (2003) onlinetext

  • If the medication needs to be temporarily raised to the point the child is less reactive that is an acceptable way to give the parents respite until therapy and parenting interventions have time to become effective. — “Guiding Philosophy of Attachment Therapy” (2003)

  • Respite can also help prevent the numerous side effects of stress — ulcers, Crohn’s Disease, lupus, fybromyalgia, and cancers. Therapeutic Parenting (1999), p. 27

One-Minute Scolding —

  • So when we’re doing the One-Minute Scolding … Make them angry, aroused, fearful, scared, whatever. — “The Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun” (1999)

  • [The One-Minute Scolding] works very well with kids who have been abused.… — “The Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun” (1999)

  • Shocking a child into compliance can occasionally be done with a one-minute scolding. This is definitely one of the more intrusive techniques. … A whole book, Who’s the Boss?, by Gerald Nelson and Richard Lewak has been written on this technique. Therapeutic Parenting (1999), p. 59

Parenting Advice —

  • How do we love unlovable children?…
    Rule #1: Always take good care of yourself!
    Rule #2: Always take good care of yourself!
    Rule #3: When all else fails, make sure you take good care of yourself! Therapeutic Parenting (1999), p.3

  • When the child tantrums throw yourself on the floor right next to them and scream and pound. Therapeutic Parenting (1999), p. 48

  • The child is kept within sight at all times … the “umbilical cord” … [H]e needs to be close to someone who can make good decisions for him. … The child is to practice asking permission. Therapeutic Parenting (1999), p. 49

  • …control battles must be avoided at all costs, and, once chosen, won at all cost. — “Paradoxical Techniques” onlinetext

  • Unblocking Rage … suggest to [the child] what you believe he is thinking and have him repeat it. “I won’t do it your way”. … Or, a more accurate reflection of an unattached child’s thoughts, “You fuckin’ asshole bitch. I want to kill you.” In a louder tone of voice tell him to say it louder. … work the child up to yelling. All the time bring your face closer and closer until you are almost nose to nose… Therapeutic Parenting (1999), p. 60

  • …the marital relationship is more important than the parent-child relationship… — “Going To Your Room” Practice (2001) onlinetext

  • Friends and relatives do not interact warmly with the child unless they ask mom if the child is going to her room when she is told and the answer is yes. — “Going To Your Room” Practice (2001) onlinetext

  • Other people in the child’s constellation of relationships must continually redirect the child’s superficial attempts to establish a relationship with them back to insisting the child first and foremost establish a relationship with the mother. — “Guiding Philosophy of Attachment Therapy” (2003)

  • The team must also be available to minimize the negative impact of those who do not understand the situation with the family and ill informed but well meaning community members who judge the parents harshly. — “Guiding Philosophy of Attachment Therapy” (2003)

The “Exquisitely Tuned In” Fetus —

  • …the bond begins at conception and continues to develop during the pregnancy. — “Guiding Philosophy of Attachment Therapy” (2003)

  • The unborn child is learning to feel and think and is exquisitely tuned in to and affected by the environment the mother is providing. — “Children Behave the Way They Behave” (2003) onlinetext

  • …just the thought of the mother smoking caused anxiety in the [fetus]. He entered a chronic state of fear never knowing when the unpleasant sensation of oxygen deprivation may occur or how painful it would be when it did. … Additionally, the infants of women who smoke tend to be born slightly prematurely as the child makes an early effort to escape a toxic environment. — “Children Behave the Way They Behave” (2003) onlinetext

  • A young woman brought her four year old son to me for evaluation and treatment. His behavior was inexplicable to her as he had never been abused or neglected yet he was totally non-compliant and oppositional … I took him in my lap and talked to him about being a baby inside of a mother. … Then I did a guided imagery with him taking him back into the womb … Finally I asked him what he was feeling while he was inside his mommy’s tummy and he began to wail like a banshee. He screamed and screamed while writhing on my lap, “I’m scared. I’m dying. Help. Someone help me!” … This is a clear example of in uterine trauma. … In my experience some of the most emotionally and behaviorally problematic children have histories of in uterine trauma. — “Children Behave the Way They Behave” (2003) onlinetext

“Attachment Cycle” —

  • In a healthy turn of the attachment cycle the newborn begins to cry, signaling nonverbally that he has a need. … He becomes aroused due to some need and mother soothes him. His brain releases cortisol and her interactions of touch, eye contact, smiles, food, and movement release the calming serotonins. The infant learns that he can cry and let his mother know he needs something and she will respond positively. He therefore begins to trust his mother to meet his needs and realizes that he is a worthwhile being. — “Children Behave the Way They Behave” (2003) onlinetext

  • We can artificially create love in someone by coming into their space with these elements [touch, eye contact, food, movement, and smiles]. This is where the whole “fake it ‘til you make it” comes in. Okay? You’re falling out of love with your child — “fake it ‘til you make it.” — “The Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun” (1999)

  • While sucking the infant is taking in his mother, her feelings, her thoughts, her values, along with the food. For What It’s Worth (1999), p. 18

“Rewiring” the Brain —

  • Research is showing … We can rewire the brain. — “Resisting Resistance Increases Resistance” (2003).

  • …we need to do things that don’t make sense, because our kids’ brains are scrambled — so fried by cortisol that they’re scrambled. — “Resisting Resistance Increases Resistance” (2003).

  • …abuse and neglect damage the brain … The brains can look like cottage cheese … [with] holes where there should be connections. Therapeutic Parenting (1999), p. 40

  • Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and speeds up the rate of healing. Therapeutic Parenting (1999)

Attitude —

  • We want to mean business without being mean. Okay? That’s what Attila did. Attila meant business, but he wasn’t mean. Because he had to take this ragtag group of Huns from all parts of Asia who wanted to rape and pillage, and he needed them to rape and pillage in the same direction. — “The Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun” (1999)

Hage, the Adoption Agent —

  • Kids, particularly from overseas, you know. They come from a very deprived environment. And they walk into one of our standard, middle-class, American adoptive homes, and they go, “Shiiit! Am I in the money!” — “The Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun” (1999)

Hage and the Police —

  • So we’re talking about January and the snow is now over the roof of the cars. … we had gone to church in the morning, I had said, “I’m cold. I think it’s a real cold day out. I’m going to wear a coat.” And he said, “No, I feel fine. I’m warm.” And so we went to church. … then he decided that he wasn’t going to behave in church. And I said, “You can either behave or you can walk home.” He said, “I’ll walk home.” So two choices he made. Alright. So he’s walking down the highway now without a coat. Well, if you’re dealing with police who don’t understand choices. They picked him up. And said, “This is neglectful.” — “The Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun” (1999)

More Pseudoscience —

  • Appropriate interventions are experiential, rather than insight or talk based, such as Theraplay, EMDR, … Rebirthing, Brain Gym, Sensory Integration and other techniques where the therapist is in control. — “Case Management” (2003) onlinetext

  • Leave no stone unturned — Shiatsu, acupressure, chiropractic, aromatherapy, Bach flower essences, music, exercise, etc. — “Case Management” (2003) onlinetext

  • Vitamin, herbal, mineral and food supplements can have a beneficial effect and must not be overlooked … Valerian root and kava extract, for example, are herbal supplements frequently used… Therapeutic Parenting (1999), p. 42

Success —

  • Teaching a child to do chores “fast and snappy and right the first time” while being “Respectful, responsible and fun to be around” contribute to the child’s ability to engage in reciprocal behaviors… — “Guiding Philosophy of Attachment Therapy” (2003)

  • …I’m not sure that success is even the issue. … I am called to commitment. For What It’s Worth (1999), p. 107

  • I have two kids in prison. … One of the kids is in prison because he kidnapped a man at knife-point and stole his car. … To a lot of people that looks like failure. For me, it’s like, “Did he kill him?” … Alright, a man’s life was in my son’s hands and my son, through the love I gave him, spared him. — “The Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun” (1999)

  • My credentials are my children. — Testimony in People vs. Watkins (2001), p. 130

Role of Father —

  • …[W]hen he returns home from work … Dad spends one-on-one time with mother, listening to her day, helping her prepare dinner or giving her a back or foot massage. The message to the children is, “Mother is central to this family. If you are not going to make her life easier, then I will.…” Dad needs to concentrate on Mom first. Therapeutic Parenting (1999), p. 5

  • …Dad says, “Hop off to your room. Mom is totally drained by being around you so I need to spend some time just with her. Stay there until Mom decides she is not so empty.” The child may come out a few hours later or may stay in her room until the next morning. If she is in her room through a meal time then Mom or Dad can bring her a sandwich and something to drink, give her a hug, thank her for staying in her room as she is so much easier to live with that way, then leave. — “Going To Your Room” Practice (2001) onlinetext

  • In therapy, therefore, the bond is created first with the mother. During these first stages the father’s role is to care for the mother, just as he would during the pregnancy. — “Guiding Philosophy of Attachment Therapy” (2003)

  • Mother makes the discipline standard, but father has to enforce it, if it’s to work optimally. — “The Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun” (1999)

Splitting Up Siblings —

  • Generally, the best course of action is to let the adoptive parents decide which child/children they have been able to achieve some sort of attachment with and then remove from the home the child/children they consider to be less functional. … It is far more critical that children have parents then that they remain with their siblings. For What It’s Worth (1999), p. 10

Commendations —

  • St. Clair, Brita — 99 Ways to Drive Your Child Sane, 1999…! A must own book… — “Paradoxical Techniques” onlinetext

  • To Connell Watkins and Nancy Thomas / Who helped me make sense of what I was learning from my children! Therapeutic Parenting (1999), [dedication page]