Michael Orlans states he has a master’s degree in psychology from Lone Mountain College [Campus], University of San Francisco (1976), and that he has “served on the faculty or lectured at several universities.”
Colorado records show that since 1992 Orlans has not been a licensed therapist of any sort, but has rather been a “registered unlicensed psychotherapist” since that time, a state permission to practice that requires no special education or training.
Orlans says he has practiced “Attachment Therapy” in Colorado since the 1980s. He worked under Foster Cline, MD, at the Attachment Center at Evergreen (ACE), the foremost Attachment Therapy center in the nation. Orlans describes himself as a “pioneer” in the treatment of “Attachment Disorder” and innovator of the “Two-Week Intensive” while at ACE. The Two-Week Intensive was demonstrated in detail in ACE’s 1993 training film, made with Attachment Therapist Neil Feinberg. In the 1990s, Orlans also worked at Evergreen Consultants in Human Behavior, another Attachment Therapy center founded by Cline.
In 1988, a boy going through Holding Therapy with Orlans and Connell Watkins escaped ACE and reportedly showed his bruised chest to the police. In 1995, after a lengthy investigation, the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners ordered Cline, who was responsible for the supervision of Orlans and Watkins, to stop what was then called “Rage Reduction” in a letter of admonition.
Orlans is now co-director with Terry Levy of a private practice in Colorado called Evergreen Psychotherapy Associates and the Attachment Treatment and Training Institute, the latter service focusing on the treatment of “attachment disorder.” They call their practice method the “Holding-Nurturing Process” and “Corrective Attachment Therapy™”. Their website posts in-house study of 50 children who went through the Two-Week Intensive at their center (“Clinical Research Shows Corrective Attachment Therapy™ Works”). There is a critical analysis of this unpublished and undated study on our website.
Orlans has laid claim to several credentials which appear to have little or no general acceptance by, or recognition within, the mental health or legal professions:
- Board Certified Forensic Examiner, Master Additions Specialist, and Fellow of the College of the American College of Forensic Examiners. (This organization has been criticized as a “certification mill" in an article published in the American Bar Association Journal entitled "Expertise to Go" by Mark Hansen, 2000 Feb; 86:44–8. Also see “The Making of an Expert Witness: It's in the Credentials,” by Elizabeth MacDonald, The Wall Street Journal, 02/08/99.)
- Diplomate and Member of the Founding Executive Board of Directors of the American Psychotherapy Association (not to be confused with the American Psychiatric Association or the American Psychological Association). Moreover, Orlans touts his “prestigious” designation as “Master Therapist” by this organization, which bestows this “highest honor” for a “Master Therapist Certification Fee” of $995.
- Co-founder of ATTACh, the trade organization for Attachment Therapists, and recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award.
- Certified Criminal Justice Specialist™ [This trademark is owned by National Association of Forensic Counselors, Inc., effective October 12, 2010.]
- Member, Advisory Council of the National Alliance for Rational Children's Policy
- Member, Colorado Psychotherapy Association
- Honorary lifetime member, Colorado Society for the Study of Traumatic Stress and Dissociation
In His Own Words
- [I]n the holding-nurturing position... Therapist M: "How do you feel in this position?" [10-year-old boy]: "I don't like being here; I don't feel anything." (starts to cry) – p. 182, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing: Understanding and Treating Attachment Disorders in Children and Families, with Michael Orlans, CWLA Press, Washington, DC, 1998.
- The child's level of tension increases while confronting issues in the context of the HNP [Holding Nurturing Process]. This tension is discharged via physical and emotional release (sobbing, screaming, kicking).... – p.134, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- Our primary method of treatment is the "two week intensive", a modality developed by us in 1984. – “Treatment Protocol,” Evergreen Psychotherapy Center and the Attachment Treatment and Training Institute, http://www.attach.org/protocol/EVERGREEN%20PSYCHOTHERAPY%20CENTER.pdf [accessed 20 Jan 2022]
- Mother-child attachment experiences are repeated many times during treatment....The regressive experience enables the child to simulate that original mother-infant attachment. We often use baby bottles and blankets during the attachment exercises to enhance authenticity. – p. 191, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- The Holding Nurturing Process (HNP), introduced in the [second day of the "two-week intensive"], is used throughout the remainder of the treatment. The child's oppositional and controlling behaviors typically escalate as a result of deliberate therapeutic confrontation and structure. In contrast to other modalities, where the expression of the child's intense affect is discouraged, our goal is to encourage the release of these emotions... – p. 183, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- Psychodramatic Reenactment... In phase one, the “boyfriend” enters the treatment room and pretends to physically threaten [the 10-year-old girl in therapy]: Boyfriend: "I'm going to throw you against the wall." Therapist [to the girl]: "What are you thinking and feeling now...?" [Girl]: "I'm scared he's gonna kill me and no one is here to help me." ... – p. 154, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- Children with severe attachment disorder are extremely resistant to therapy... – p. 19, “Attachment Disorder as an antecedent to violence and antisocial patterns in children,” by Terry M. Levy and Michael Orlans, in Handbook of Attachment Interventions, ed. Terry M. Levy, Academic Press, 2000.
- Attachment Therapy...involves intensive emotional work with the child. This part constitutes a significant portion of the treatment. – pp. 248-249, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- You will not be working with staff members or paraprofessional, but with the master therapists directly. – “About Us” Evergreen Psychotherapy Center, http://www.attachmentexperts.com/about.html [accessed 6/22/08]
- Michael Orlans, M.A., D.A.P.A., and Terry Levy, Ph.D., B.C.F.E., Co-Directors of the Evergreen Psychotherapy Center, have been designated Master Therapists by the American Psychotherapy Association. This is the highest honor that the APA can bestow upon a member and is held by some of the world's foremost Psychotherapists. This prestigious credential recognizes exceptional professionals who have made significant and enduring contributions to advancing the profession of psychotherapy. It validates that an individual has provided exemplary services distinguished by work of consistently high quality and adherence to the highest ethical standards. It also recognizes exceptional humanitarian efforts, charitable works, and actions that have contributed to the betterment of society. – “About Us” Evergreen Psychotherapy Center, http://www.attachmentexperts.com/about.html [accessed 22 Jun 2008]
- Experience Pioneers in the field, innovators of Corrective Attachment Therapy and Corrective Attachment Parenting. Developed the two-week intensive treatment format used by many attachment programs, around the world. No one has more experience doing this work. – “About Us: How are we different?” Evergreen Psychotherapy Center website: http://www.attachmentexperts.com/about.html [accessed 20 Jan 2010]
Holding Therapy, aka “Holding Nurturing Process”
- [T]here are many variations of holding work. Some are more intrusive, some are less. – p. 273, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- Initial contact with the child includes a review of the sentence completion task and an explanation of the first-year attachment cycle, while the child is in the holding-nurturing position. – p. 180, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- The Holding-Nurturing Process (HNP), in which the therapist holds the child eye-to-eye, face-to-face, is an "in arms" experience... – p. 19, “Attachment Disorder as an antecedent to violence and antisocial patterns in children,” by Terry M. Levy and Michael Orlans, in Handbook of Attachment Interventions, ed. Terry M. Levy, Academic Press, 2000.
- The firm yet caring structure of the HNP diminishes the child's ability to manipulate or control the therapeutic process... – p. 116, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- The therapist, utilizing the Holding Nurturing Process, facilitates multisensory compliance: verbally, visually, somatically, and emotionally. – p. 135, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- Unfortunately, children with attachment disorder...are typically tactilely defensive and afraid of closeness and touch. In the HNP, the therapist is physically close to the child and is able to provide corrective touch.... – p. 117, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- Therapist T: "What feelings do you have in this holding position?" [Boy]: "I have bad memories. I wasn't touched in the right way. I'm scared." – p. 190, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- Pioneers in the field, innovators of Corrective Attachment Therapy and Corrective Attachment Parenting. Developed the two-week intensive treatment format used by many attachment programs, around the world. No one has more experience doing this work. – “About Us” Evergreen Psychotherapy Center, http://www.attachmentexperts.com/about.html [accessed 1/28/2011]
On the Other Hand...
- We do not use nor advocate the use of any methodologies that are coercive or unsafe with children. – “ Frequently Asked Questions,” Evergreen Psychotherapy Center, http://www.attachmentexperts.com/frequentlyasked.html [accessed 6/22/08]
- [Robert] Zaslow's impressive results [with“Rage Reduction Therapy”] were beginning to gain considerable attention.....In 1972, Dr. Zaslow was brought to Forest Heights Lodge, a noted psychiatric residential facility in Evergreen, Colorado, to do extensive training. Russ Colburn, Director of the Lodge, invited child psychiatrist Foster W. Cline, to participate in this process. Zaslow's marathon sessions were characterized by their depth of intensity and duration. They could continue for as long as it took to achieve expression and resolution; 8 to 10 hours was not uncommon. – p. 272, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing [emphasis added]
- Even though we found [rubbing the rib cage] to be therapeutically effective, we did not believe that tactile stimulation would ever be widely understood or accepted by the professional community....We continued to believe that establishing therapeutic control was important. – pp. 272-273, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
Kicking for Catharsis and Compliance
- While in the HNP, the child is asked to kick his or her legs up and down with heels touching the couch, as if swimming....a safe and nondestructive release of anger and aggressive impulses. – p. 132, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- Therapist M: "Show me you want to work hard by kicking your legs." ( [The 10-year-old boy’s] resistance is exemplified by half-hearted kicking.) Therapist T: "This is not good kicking; is this how you work hard? Maybe you want to quit?" [Boy]: "I'm tired." Therapist M: "I understand you are tired, but do you want to talk about being tired or about getting better?" Therapist T: (directs comment to co-therapist) "He wants to do it his way. He wants to be the boss."... – p. 186, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
The Out-Dated Notion of Catharsis
- [C]atharsis is useful in the treatment process... – p. 133, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- The child with attachment disorder is a hostage to powerful emotions. Rage, fear, and unresolved emotional pain dictate his or her choices and action. ...A crucial part of this process involves emotional release... – p. 133, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- Regressive Work A major dynamic in treatment is helping the child regress to the period that produced the pathology. – p. 249, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- Treatment is developmental, requiring the successful completion of each stage, which in turn builds upon the next. – “Attachment Therapy,” Evergreen Psychotherapy Center, http://www.attachmentexperts.com/corrective.html [accessed 6/22/08]
Disparaging Birth Parents & Children
- [F]rom the psychodramatic reenactment... Birth Mother [actor, addressing child]: "You can't change, you will always be just like me." – p. 192, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
[10-year-old boy in the HNP position]: “Ready!” (shares details of abuse)
Therapist T: “How do you feel about your birth mother for what she did to you?”
[Boy:] “I hate her for that.”
Therapist M: “Did she put love or hate in your heart?”
[Boy]: “They put hate in my heart. I am full of hate.” (He repeats this several times with increased intensity.)
Therapist M: (shows [boy] a photo of birth mother) "What do you want to say to her?"
[Boy]: "I hate you for abusing me. I don't want you running my life anymore." (screams)
Therapist T: "You are doing a great job." – pp. 189-190, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
Dismissing Standard Therapy & Diagnosis
- Traditional psychotherapeutic approaches are often not effective in treating children and adults with attachment difficulties… – Evergreen Psychotherapy Center, http://www.attachmentexperts.com/ [accessed 5/17/08]
- Attachment issues are seen as the core or "hub" of the wheel. Symptoms such as ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Conduct Disorder, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are viewed as spokes on the wheel. – “Philosophy,” Evergreen Psychotherapy Center, http://www.attachmentexperts.com/whatisattachment.html [accessed 20 Jan 2011]
The Bogus “Attachment Cycle”
- The tension-discharge-relaxation cycle is identical to the first-year-of-life attachment cycle in structure and function. In the first-year attachment cycle, the infant's level of tension increases due to needs and discomfort. This tension is discharged via physical release and signaling (crying, sobbing, kicking). The infant relaxes as the reliable and responsive caregiver provides need fulfillment and safety. This is the time that attachment is most likely to occur. A similar process occurs therapeutically. The child's level of tension increases while confronting issues in the context of the HNP. This tension is discharged via physical and emotional release (sobbing, screaming, kicking). – pp. 133-134, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- Attachment disorder is one of the most easily diagnoses and yet commonly misunderstood parent-child disorders. – p. 21, “Attachment Disorder as an antecedent to violence and antisocial patterns in children,” by Terry M. Levy and Michael Orlans, in Handbook of Attachment Interventions
- [T]he statistics indicate that there are 800,000 children with severe attachment disorder coming to the attention of the child welfare system each year. This does not include thousands of children with attachment disorder adopted from other countries. – “Attachment Explained,” Evergreen Psychotherapy Center, http://www.attachmentexperts.com/whatisattachment.html [accessed 5/17/08]
- Attachment Disorder: Traits and Symptoms…impulsive, destructive, lie and steal, aggressive and abusive, hyperactive, self-destructive, cruel to animals, irresponsible, fire setting…poor hygiene, tactilely defensive… accident prone, high pain tolerance…identification with evil and the dark side of life. – “Attachment Explained,” Evergreen Psychotherapy Center website, http://www.attachmentexperts.com/whatisattachment.html [accessed 5/17/08
- Reactive Attachment Disorder [sic] [W]orsens over years without treatment, resulting in antisocial character disorders. [P]oor cause-and-effect thinking, no remorse... Controlled and controlling, only for self-gain, underhanded, covert & punitive...Covertly or overtly defiant, passive aggressive... Revenge motivated, malicious; danger seeking secondary to despair... Very "street smart," good survival skills, con artists, calculating, lack of remorse...Uses sex as means of power, control, or of infliction of pain, sadistic – p. 263-265, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- Attachment disorder affects all aspect of a child's functioning. A child may display some combination of the following primary symptoms: Behavior: oppositional and defiant, impulsive, destructive, lie and steal, aggressive and abusive, hyperactive, self-destructive, cruel to animals, irresponsible, fire setting. Emotions: intense anger and temper, sad, depressed and hopeless, moody, fearful and anxious (although often hidden), irritable, inappropriate emotional reactions. Thoughts: negative beliefs about self, relationships, and life in general ("negative working model"), lack of cause-and-effect thinking, attention and learning problems. Relationships: lacks trust, controlling ("bossy"), manipulative, does not give or receive genuine affection and love, indiscriminately affectionate with strangers, unstable peer relationships, blames others for own mistakes or problems, victimizes others/victimized. Physical: poor hygiene, tactilely defensive, enuresis and encopresis, accident prone, high pain tolerance, genetic predispositions (e.g., depression, hyperactivity). Moral/Spiritual: lack of faith, compassion, remorse, meaning and other prosocial values, identification with evil and the dark side of life. – “Attachment Disorder: Traits and Symptom” Evergreen Psychotherapy Center website, http://www.attachmentexperts.com/whatisattachment.html [accessed 20 Jan 2010]
- There are six categories of traits and symptoms of attachment disorder: behavioral, cognitive, emotional, social, physical, and moral-spiritual....Please place a mark in the appropriate column for each symptom as it pertains to your child. For each of the symptoms checked as moderate or severe, please give a brief description of your child's behavior. Specific examples (given by parents) are available by clicking on a question....Submit [button]. – “Symptoms Checklist,” Evergreen Psychotherapy Center website, http://www.attachmentexperts.com/checklist.html [accessed 20 Jan 2011]
- Many children with attachment disorders are adopted by well-meaning parents who are ill-prepared to handle their severe emotional and behavioral problems. These children are unable to give and receive love and affection, constantly defy parental rules and authority, are physically and emotionally abusive to caregivers and siblings… – “Child/Teen Attachment Therapy: Corrective Attachment Parenting,” Evergreen Psychotherapy Center, http://www.attachmentexperts.com/childteen.html [accessed 5/17/08]
- [T]he child is introduced to the therapeutic foster parents. The rules and expectations of that home are explained, including the reason why chores are emphasized. – p. 179, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- We then prepared [the parents] for the technique of "firing" the child from therapy. ...[H]e can only come back to therapy if he earns it by showing that he wants to work hard.... – p. 192, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- ...[T]he child who is unwilling to cooperate in treatment is informed of two choices and consequences: work hard in therapy, change, and have the possibility of a loving and satisfying family life, or ...face the consequences. One consequence may be that the parents ... "...will always love you but it might have to be from a distance." – p. 185, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- Most parents realize that "school is the least of their child's problems." – “ Frequently Asked Questions,” Evergreen Psychotherapy Center, http://www.attachmentexperts.com/frequentlyasked.html [accessed 6/22/08]
- Consequential parenting also serves to heighten the child's motivation for treatment by allowing them to experience the pain of their condition rather than displacing it on the parents. – pp. 248-249, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- Act like they don't understand what you're saying. Can be genuine or used as a ploy, particularly if English is a second language. Also includes speech impediments such as stuttering or not saying words correctly. – “Symptoms Checklist,” Evergreen Psychotherapy Center, http://www.attachmentexperts.com/checklist.html [accessed 5/17/08]
More Bizarre Claims
- Bonding begins in utero....The fetus becomes agitated each time the mother even thinks about smoking a cigarette. – "Pre-Birth Bonding," by Terry M. Levy, Ph.D. and Michael Orlans, M.A., 4therapy.com, http://www.4therapy.com/professional/conditions/article/6580/508/Pre-Birth%20Bonding [accessed 1/13/11]
- Holding Nurturing Process... It stimulates infant and parent attachment behaviors practiced by most culture throughout the world. These species-specific behaviors have changed little over the past 100,000 years. – pp. 114-115, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- Ann Sullivan used holding as a fundamental method to reach her breakthroughs with Helen Keller. – p.271, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- ..Martha Welch, M.D....achieved success by assisting mothers in holding their autistic children, promoting a predictable sequence of fighting and resisting, followed by calming and relating. – p. 272, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing [emphasis added]
- Anger, fear, sadness, and shame are not merely emotions, they occur and are stored on a somatic level; i.e. in the body. – p. 131, Attachment, Trauma, and Healing
- Our program is based on sound and well-founded therapeutic methods. – “ Frequently Asked Questions,” Evergreen Psychotherapy Center, http://www.attachmentexperts.com/frequentlyasked.html [accessed 6/22/08]
- Some insurance carriers have paid for our entire fee, some have paid a percentage, and others have refused to pay anything. – “ Frequently Asked Questions,” Evergreen Psychotherapy Center, http://www.attachmentexperts.com/frequentlyasked.html [accessed 6/22/08]
Passing on Attachment Therapy
- We regularly provide internship placements from graduate schools such as the University of Colorado, University of Denver, Regis University, Colorado Christian University, University of Northern Colorado, and other national programs. – Evergreen Psychotherapy Center website, http://www.attachmentexperts.com/seminars.html [accessed 1/20/11]
- “Treating Trauma and Attachment Issues in Children and Families Seminar”...Featuring internationally-renowned attachment and trauma experts Terry Levy, Ph.D., D.A.P.A., B.C.F.E. [and] Michael Orlans, M.A., D.A.P.A., B.C.F.E....Master Therapist[s]...Appleton, Madison, and Brookfield, Wisconsin...PESI, LLC -- [Continuing education for mental health therapists and nurses, 2011 January 26, 27, 28] http://www.pesi.com/search/detail/index.asp?eventid=78523 [accessed 1/20/2011]