Victim of Attachment Therapy
Rescued May 2008 at age 13
The following account has been prepared from press reports, personal interviews, trial transcripts, and other public records.
The unnamed 13-year-old adopted daughter of Kathy and Steve Rhoten was removed from her Edwardsville, Missouri, home to foster care when authorities determined the girl was being abused. A grand jury indicted each parent with two counts of criminal restraint.
The parents claim their daughter, whom they adopted at the age of three from a Panamanian orphanage, has Reactive Attachment Disorder. But more like the unrecognizerd diagnosis used by Attachment Therapist, i.e. “Attachment Disorder,” the parent described their daughter as disobedient, rageful, and destructive. Because she engaged in self-abuse behaviors, they said it was necessary to restrain the girl with zip ties.
Shirley Crenshaw, LCSW, had been the girl's therapist. Crenshaw has been a member of a trade organization for Attachment Therapy/Parenting called ATTACh. Reporter Nancy Cambria, who works for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, interviewed Crenshaw and wrote:
Therapist Shirley Crenshaw, who works with area families - most recently Steve and Kathy Rhoten - said
these children lacked the hard-wiring to connect with those who loved them. Brain scans reveal limited
activity in the area associated with bonding...They often vent their rage at their adoptive mothers to split
the family and gain control. Many parents have been ostracized by relatives because they didn't understand
the hard-line parenting and other methods recommended by therapists to deal with their kids.
Crenshaw claims to specialize in treating "Attachment Disorder" and offers "Attachment Therapy," as well as other unvalidated practices, i.e. EMDR and Reiki.
Steve Rhoten is a computer consultant, and Kathy Rhoten is a special education teacher who was suspended from her job after charges were filed against her and her husband. The Rhotens pled not-guilty to the charges and hope to have their daughter back in their home. They want to take her to what Cambria described as a "bonding program in Ohio for Reactive Attachment Disorder."
- “Parents facing criminal charges want their troubled adopted teen from Panama back,” by Nancy Cambria, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 31 March 2008.
- “Case reveals course of troubled child,” by Nancy Cambria, St. Louis Post-Dispatch 30 March 2008.