What is Attachment Therapy?

Attachment Therapy (AT) is a growing, underground movement for the “treatment” of children who pose disciplinary problems to their parents or caregivers. AT practitioners allege that the root cause of the children’s misbehavior is a failure to “attach” to their caregivers. The purported correction by AT is — literally — to force the children into loving (attaching to) their parents.

The methods employed in AT are among the most disrespectful, degrading, insensitive, and harsh (i.e., brutal) imaginable. They are intended to overcome the resistance of a child to total obedience to the mother. They are employed until the child’s will is completely broken. If a child is stubbornly resistant to the treatment or the desired outcome — as understandably he or she often is — the brutality of the treatments escalates. This can go on, around the clock, for months or years.

Most often the children targeted for AT are those who have been adopted or are in foster care; a disproportionate number are of minority race or ethnicity, suffer from autism or mental retardation, or have physical disabilities. Such children are, not coincidentally, among the most vulnerable and defenseless.

AT has two major components to it. First, there is a hands-on treatment involving physical restraint and discomfort, termed psychotherapy by the professional or paraprofessional “therapists” who carry it out. This is usually accompanied by the second component, a phalanx of parenting techniques which brings AT brutality into the home, on a 24/7 basis. Both components are without basis in psychological theory or research evidence.

This part of ACT’s website examines and exposes, in detail, various aspects of this horrible practice.

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