“The Institute is a beacon of light for families like ours…parents who search desperately for help to literally save their children and families.”
– Julia, Client/Parent
We’ve come a long way in the field of attachment therapy. Not so long ago, attachment disorder didn’t even have a name. While we’ve learned a lot and found success, many people are still confused or misled about attachment therapy.
Please learn about attachment disorder and our unique treatment model. We invite you to meet us and hear from the families we treat. Many of our clients are happy to talk to other families about their experiences here at the Institute.
People didn’t know attachment disorder existed before 1972. Once psychiatrists learned about the disorder, they had a long road ahead.
When attachment disorder therapy began, most therapists moved forward with great caution. They respected and cared for families and children.
Unfortunately, one unlicensed therapist in Evergreen, Colorado made a negligent mistake that resulted in a heartbreaking consequence. She used “rebirthing therapy”, a controversial technique not used by any licensed therapists. She wrapped a child up in a blanket that obstructed her breathing. Tragically, the child died.
Due to our proximity to the woman’s home at that time, the media incorrectly connected the death to our organization. Respected therapists in the field who did not use rebirthing therapy were also connected to this tragedy. The public began to view the entire field of attachment therapy as dangerous and outlandish.
We will never use any treatments that have any potential of ever harming our clients. Our treatment model is completely safe and respectful of children and families. Please learn more about our treatment model.
Today, people are still uninformed. A select few even have a personal mission to destroy attachment therapy. They do not know our therapists and have never seen our therapy. Yet they skew our words, statistics, and therapy videos to create a negative interpretation of our work. They link us to therapies unrelated to our own. They even attempt to convince clients to complain or lie about us.
The people who are hurt the most by these attacks are kids and families. Due to the stigma surrounding our field, many families cannot find the help they need. Most parents search for years to find answers and spend time and money on therapies that don’t work for their children.
We continue our work through ongoing research, a unique and successful treatment model, and an experienced, committed, and caring staff. We do so to overcome the isolation and pain in the hearts and minds of children with attachment disorder and the families who love them.
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Here’s a more extensive history of how attachment therapy began and how far we’ve come:
- In 1972, a psychiatrist and some colleagues in Evergreen, Colorado identified attachment disorder. The group found that many children could not attach to their adoptive and foster parents due to past abuse and neglect.
- The group created a therapy technique called rage reduction. They believed that children who were abused and neglected as infants and toddlers were full of rage. Their therapy included holding children to a point where they felt angry. They believed this anger led children to feel vulnerable and more available for therapy.
- Desperate parents flocked to the group for help. The group became experts in attachment therapy and gained national attention.
- The group had no outcome data. The public became to question their techniques.
- In the late 1980s, professionals and families collaborated internationally to share their knowledge, talents, and resources to those with attachment disorder. They began an organization called Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children (ATTACh).
- In the early 1990s, ATTACh began to disapprove of the rage reduction therapy technique.
- By 2004, the ATTACh membership grew to 600 members and sponsored an annual conference throughout the United States.
- In the mid-1990s, Forrest Lien was hired as the Clinical Director of the Attachment Center in Evergreen (now known as the Institute for Attachment and Child Development). The Board hired Forrest to develop other treatment methods other than rage reduction therapy.
- Forrest believed in a form of attachment therapy more respectful of the child and family. Forrest asked clinicians who believed in rage reduction therapy and other intrusive techniques to leave the organization.
- Forrest developed a synthesis of interventions that included an alternative form of holding therapy. His holding therapy fit—and still fits—the definition the ATTACh organization developed as a safe and effective form of RAD therapy. ATTACh believes that holding therapy should consist of: essential components that include eye contact, appropriate touch, empathy, genuine expression of emotion, nuturance, reciprocity, safety, and acceptance. While a variety of holding positions can be used, the physical safety of the client is the primary consideration.
- By 2000, attachment therapy rapidly gained credibility. Neuroscientists recognized the deregulated brain states of traumatized children.
- Forrest introduced pre- and post-outcome data of our model with the Child Behavior Checklist. Our outcome data supported the significant improvement in the children we treated.
- Our new model of care gained momentum and we were excited about the future of the attachment therapy field.
- In April 2000, a therapist who helped developed rage therapy techniques in the 70s made a negligent decision that ended in tragedy. She used a rare and controversial technique in her home in Evergreen, Colorado. This woman was not licensed. She attempted “rebirthing therapy” where she wrapped a child up in a blanket that obstructed the child’s breathing. Tragically, the child died. This was a woman who Forrest had asked to leave our organization in the nineties when he began as the Executive Director at IACD. He wasn’t comfortable with her beliefs or techniques. She was also disassociated with the ATTACh organization.
- The media incorrectly connected the death of the child to the Attachment Center of Evergreen and misidentified rebirthing as holding therapy.
- The media also connected respected therapists in the field who did not use rebirthing therapy to the tragedy.
- The stigma against attachment therapy began. The public saw the entire field of attachment therapy as dangerous and outlandish. Holding therapy incorrectly became synonymous with hurting children.
- In 2002, we decided to change our name to the Institute for Attachment & Child Development. We did so to separate our model from rage reduction therapy and the tragedy that occurred, given our proximity to the woman’s home in Evergreen, Colorado.
- In 2005, we decided to omit all therapy techniques related to holding therapy. Our holding technique was completely safe and respectful of our clients. However, we did not want the public to associate us with rage reduction therapy in any way. Therefore, we formulated yet another unique and successful new model in the field of attachment therapy.
- By 2006, our model did not include holding therapy at all. Our clinicians focus more on traditional family techniques related to parent/child relationships. As always, we respect our clients and have a clear understanding of attachment disorder.
- Today, we have a renewed excellent reputation with our local mental health and county agencies. We have contracts with several counties in Colorado. Every month, Forrest meets with other mental health clinicians in a combined effort to write best practice guidelines for children and families who suffer with attachment disorder.
As always, we welcome your questions and invite you to meet our staff and our past clients.
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