Beth Thomas, RN, BSN, is the adopted daughter of Attachment Therapy proponent Nancy Thomas. To our knowledge, Ms Thomas is one of only two independent adult survivors of Attachment Therapy/Parenting to speak well of the practice. She works with Nancy Thomas and her company Families by Design in promoting Attachment Therapy and its parenting methods through lectures and materials sales.
Ms Thomas was featured as a young child in the 1989 HBO documentary Child of Rage, which was later made into a drama by CBS.
Both films were made during the time that Nancy Thomas worked at the Attachment Center at Evergreen. Ms Thomas sells DVDs of these films, along with her presentation on “Attachment Disorder” and Attachment Therapy parenting methods which she credits her mother with inventing. Beth, Nancy, and Terena Thomas co-authored the book Dandelion on My Pillow, Butcher Knife Below (2004).
The below are quotes from Beth Thomas’ DVD presentation: More Than A Thread of Hope, Families by Design, Glenwood Springs, Colorado, 2007 [estimated publication date; Ms Thomas notes that she is 24 years old at the time of the presentation].
In Her Own Words
- Love is not enough for these children. You can love them until you are blue in the face, and they will literally, literally spit it back at you....Love is weakness to them.
“Snuggle Time”: Coercive Restraint
- Snuggle time...they’re going to push it away at first.
Promoting Attachment Therapy
- You need a good Attachment Therapist.
- I went through a lot of Attachment Therapy to get where I am today.
- My brother Adam…he had chronic ear infections…. You think he had issues? Oh, yah. But Adam worked really hard. Awesome Attachment Therapy. Therapeutic parenting.
Promoting an Unrecognized Disorder
- It is hard to have a child with Attachment Disorder in your home. It is a daily battle.
- Mom is the one who is attacked 100%....And they’re sneaky, sneaky, sneaky.
- I healed from Attachment Disorder by the time I was seven and eight… I had internalized my mom’s moral values , as well as her desires and her values…
- Signs and Symptoms of Attachment Disorder [from slide]
Lack of eye contact…
Lack of ability to give and receive affection
Extreme control problems
Destructive to self and others
Cruelty to animals
Chronic crazy lying
Learning lags and disorder
Lack of cause and effect thinking
Lack of conscience
Abnormal eating patterns
Poor peer relationships
Preoccupied with fire, blood, & gore
Persistent nonsense questions & chatter
Inappropriately demanding and clingy
Abnormal speech patterns (what?)
False allegations of abuse
Presumptive entitlement issues
Triangulation of adults
Parents appear hostile and angry
- If they can keep your eyes angry, then they don’t have to bond to you.
- Parents [of children with“Attachment Disorder”] appear hostile and angry, because they are.
- [D]ivorce…very common in households with Attachment Disordered children. They triangulate. They separate. They divide and conquer....They like being in control.
- The child with Attachment Disorder walks into a room. First thing they do, they’re casing it....They figure out where the exits are. They figure what people they can con and manipulate like that [snaps fingers]….And they’re also look where your purses are and all that fun stuff. If you’re ever missing your keys. Ha, ha. Sweetums knows exactly where they are.
- Now some are more difficult to bond to that others. [shows photo of monkey with mouth wide open] Okay? Would you bond to that face. I don’t think so.
- As they hug you, they’re pinching you.
The “Attachment Continuum"
Mother Teresa to Jeffrey Dahmer
- Now, the attachment continuum. We are all somewhere on this attachment continuum. Alright? So it starts all the way over here with like Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Jesus Christ, you know. You’ve got pure, all the way attached, like complete connection. And then you kind of make your way down and you get to like the normal average family….And you make your way down a little more, you’re moving into your robbers, and you’re moving into your murderers, your prostitutes. Now, what do you need to know – the difference between your murderers and your prostitutes? Murderers use their control, their aggression as their control. Prostitutes use their victimization as control. Okay? So you might see some of this in the children in your home that you work with. That victimization is their control. They might not be outwardly aggressive. Then you’re moving along into your psychopaths and sociopaths. And you’ve got Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer. And like Edgar Allen Poe, Saddam Hussein…
Using Wilhelm Reich’s “First Year Cycle”
- This first year cycle of life…this is where it all begins….They understand they are completely helpless and hopeless…Between abuse and neglect, which do you think is the worse…neglect.
- We go back to that first year cycle. I had to ask for a drink of water. I had to ask to go to the bathroom. She knew where I was all the time.
- You redo that first year cycle….They have a need, we provide. They have a want, we say “no.”
Compliance is not enough? Parents must be entertained
- That’s where we set the bar. Respectful, responsible and fun to be around. And it’s easy with our children for us to drop the bar, you know, with something as small as table manners.
- They call me “Miss Beth.” [It’s] very important that [children with “Attachment Disorder”] have respect. “You don’t run in front; you walk beside or behind.”
- Therapy has to be done with mom in the room because these children lie their face off.
Alarms on Doors
- Dr. Foster Cline calls it the steel box with velvet lining.
- These are tips for bonding…Eye contact, Touch, Movement, Smiles, Lactose
- They get no decision making...because they need to understand that mom is the one who’s going to take care of everything.
- We do a choice test… “Would you like juice or milk?” If sweetums picks anything else than the two things you just offered, they’re not ready. And you say, “Bummer.” And you don’t give them another choice test for a month….What they’re saying when they choose anything else than but those two is “I would rather be in control than have something fill my needs.”
- You need to have an alarm on the doors.
- And someday they will say “thank you,” because I did.
- [W]hat my mom did – and she of course had the doctor on board, and she had the therapist on board…she had the children taken off their meds for six months because she needed to know the baseline.
- I’m not saying I’m not a proponent of medication. But I’ll tell you what. I kind of look through the world with RAD-colored glasses.
About Nancy Thomas
- Would the techniques we use work with PTSD? Yes, they would. The techniques that mom has developed work with children with bipolar, with attention deficit disorder, with oppositional defiant disorder, with the alphabet soup, I swear.
“Balancing” the Brain?
- Neurofeedback…it’s about rewiring those misfiring connections, so it helps to balance out the brain.
Thomas Recommends Attachment Therapy
- One book that I would highly recommend….is Dr. Elizabeth Randolph’s book Broken Hearts, Wounded Minds.
- I recommend…When Love is Not Enough
- There’s a fabulous, fabulous book…The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, written by Dr. Thomas Verney....Attachment Disorder…is a break in that primal bond
- We like to move into the Love and Logic parenting when we can.