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Child Psychology Blogs

Concerned About Unconventional Mental Health Interventions?

Concerned About Unconventional Mental Health Interventions?
Alternative Psychotherapies: Evaluating Unconventional Mental Health Treatments

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Survivor of Attachment Therapy Speaks

I don't know how to bring some very important comments to this page, so let me ask everyone interested in AT to go to, and look at the comments by McKenzie Schmitt.

The post originally asked for accounts of AT by people who had experienced it as children and who felt it had been helpful. There have been none.

Instead, here is an account that speaks volumes about the real nature of the treatment.


  1. McKenzie is brave for speaking out and such a survivor!

    I sincerely hope that she (and other AT victims) get the help and support they deserve -- and justice!

  2. Should you ever have the time or inclination to debunk the zillion untruths this supposed social worker writes about bonding with adopted kids:

  3. Hi,

    My parents were part of the cult known as Re-Evaluation Counseling in the Basque Country. They both used Holding Therapy on me at some point, but mostly my mother would do it as often as she though necessary.

    I was not adopted, I was not autistic, nor I had any 'attachment issues', and I was constantly told that I was an exceptionally smart and sensitive child. Still, they found HT necessary for me...

    But the basis of the RC cult is that we all have traumas inside that we need to get rid of by expressing them (discharge), in order to be free. So, from ages 3 to 10 or 12 my mom would approach me and hug me tightly until I discharged as much as she considered enough.

    Her Holding Therapy system followed that from Prekopova, I even found a book of hers at my parents' house. My mom would catch me and would hold me prison for what it felt like hours, while I was crying in despair, trying to get out, to escape, I'd even bite her, spit on her, it did not matter. It was torture for me.

    I don't remember all the details. I considered my mother my best friend, she'd take me everywhere with her, I was treated as an equal by her, she'd always give me authority and she'd respect my decisions. She played with me all the time, I thought I loved having her as a mom. But then, when I expressed some discomfort in my daily life, she would use Holding Therapy on me. And I understood nothing. But I knew I hated it and when I saw it coming, I would try to avoid it by all means. I can recall locking myself in the bathroom, the only room in the house with a lock, and my mom waiting outside and trying to convince me to get out. Of course, when I got out she would continue with the session.

    I've been told that other people from the cult would come to our house and do the sessions to me, but I don't remember this with clarity. What I do remember is the retreats that we'd go to, organized by RC and there, there were some individuals who for example claimed that I had not discharged during the weekend so they would come to me and try to make a session of Holding Therapy to me. I remember this retreats with me hiding from these people. Eventually they would always find me. RC leaders where present in these retreats and would approve of this methods. In the end, the biggest purpose of the cult was to discharge, and as the children didn't know how to do it with words (according to them), if they did not discharge during playing time, it was accepted that someone had to facilitate his/her discharge.

    I'm now in therapy, and I decided to cut all contact with my parents some months ago. I'm 29 and now I can see that I'm completely emotionally damaged because of Holding Therapy. I was emotionally abused by my mother, I guess that also physically, as I was physically restrained against my will for hours. Still, it's very difficult for me to give me credit as a victim, as Holding Therapy is not known in my area and people don't know what I'm talking about. It's not sexual abuse, it's not beating, so I constantly feel like I can not compare to that and it was not as bad as that.

    Still, I'm completely messed up emotionally, I cannot trust the people closest to me and it's very difficult to me to find balance,

  4. Dear Zanzin-- sorry I did not see your comment right away. This "discharge" concept is such a profound misunderstanding of how human beings function! I see that you also emailed to me privately and I will answer further there.

    BTW, you don't have to get credit as a victim. What hurt you might not hurt someone else, but the fact is that it hurt you.