Holding therapy appears finished

Date: 2005-02-13

State orders the last practitioner to end controversial method

By Jesse Hyde

PROVO — The state's last practitioner of a controversial form of therapy has been ordered by state licensing officials to stop practicing it and will have her therapy sessions supervised for the next three years.

And that could mean the end of holding therapy in Utah.

If Jennie Murdock Gwilliam — who used to run Cascade Center for Family Growth with the late Larry VanBloem — violates the terms of her probation, her license as a clinical social worker will be revoked.

"She and Larry believed in attachment therapy very much," said Craig Snyder, an attorney who represented Gwilliam and VanBloem in legal matters pertaining to their licenses to practice therapy. "(Gwilliam) feels that holding therapy is appropriate and that it helps people, but she doesn't intend to practice in that arena anymore."

Holding therapy has been decried as medical quackery and physical abuse by its detractors and celebrated as a miraculous balm to severely troubled children by its supporters.

There are still two pending lawsuits against Gwilliam by former clients who say they were physically and mentally abused during therapy sessions at the Orem treatment facility.

Snyder said Gwilliam had decided to stop practicing holding therapy even before the state ordered her to do so.

The sudden death of VanBloem in a December car crash devastated her, Snyder said.

Rather than disputing allegations of abuse at a scheduled January hearing before the state's Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, Gwilliam agreed Jan. 26 to a stipulation.

"She was not admitting or denying any of the allegations," Snyder said. "After Larry's death it didn't make sense to go through with a five- to six-week hearing on stuff she doesn't plan to do anymore."

According to the stipulation, Gwilliam "may use restraint techniques on the client only to protect the client or another person from physical injury" and may not use "restraint techniques for therapeutic purposes."

Allegations of abuse at Cascade first surfaced in 1997, and in 2002 the state filed a petition seeking to revoke the licenses of VanBloem and Gwilliam. The petition detailed five cases in which VanBloem and Gwilliam lay on top of children who were restrained by "methods including sitting on the child's legs or wrapping the child in a blanket."

The petition, which was disputed by VanBloem, Gwilliam and their supporters, also alleged that therapists at Cascade used their hands and knuckles to press into the child's abdomen and ribs, causing pain.

Then in 2002 Cascade was linked to the death of 4-year-old Cassandra Killpack.

Killpack was allegedly killed by her adoptive parents, who forced her to drink water until she passed out as punishment for taking a sibling's soft drink.

The Killpacks said they learned the punishment technique at Cascade, a charge that cast the therapy center into the national spotlight. VanBloem and Gwilliam denied involvement, and Cascade was not implicated in an investigation by the Utah County Attorney's Office.

Supporters of holding therapy believe that through physical poking and prodding, usually to the abdomen, children who have suffered severe physical or sexual abuse are able to release pent-up rage and frustration.

VanBloem and Gwilliam say they never hurt children during holding therapy sessions.

Gwilliam has moved to St. George, where she plans to continue practicing as a therapist.

Her therapy sessions must be monitored by a supervisor approved by the state, and physical contact with clients must be "brief and not repeated in the course of a clinical session ." Such contacts might include a hug, a pat on the shoulder or holding hands.

Gwilliam must also complete 20 hours of classes in "boundary violations and ethics approved by the Social Worker Licensing Board," must meet with the board periodically, and must inform the board of where she's working as a therapist.

Snyder said Gwilliam plans to work as a therapist for a state-approved agency that treats children in St. George's juvenile justice system.


Not quite over or finished...

Holding therapy is only one abusive method used to "treat" a child with a so-called attachment disorder/RAD, and according to my own little digging around, I found this little gem, which was published March 5, 2002 

Licensed therapists would be prevented from using hugging therapy or other forms of restraint on emotionally troubled children under a bill approved by the House on Monday and is now in the Senate.  

HB356 would outlaw so-called holding therapy, which forcibly restricts a child's movement until the child gives up resisting.

Rep. Mike Thompson, R-Orem, said any form of restraint therapy can cause emotional harm that will only further traumatize a child.

[From:  House approves ban on 'holding therapy', Desert News Archives ]

Sure, enough, HB0356, amends the Mental Health Professional Practice Act and the Psychologist Licensing Act,  making it unlawful to use or recommend rebirthing or similar therapies, in the state of Utah.

Unfortunately, this ban does not apply to lay-people, like....oh, I dunno.... parent-educators like..... uh.... Nancy Thomas, who oddly enough, is scheduled to present a seminar in Salt Lake City, Utah on March 18-19, 2011.  The cost for this two-day educating event is $95 for individuals, and $130 for couples, and continuing education credits (for professionals) will cost $35, in addition to the registration fee.

Continuing Education (CE) credits for mental health professionals are being offered through PsychoEducational Resources, Inc. (PER). Continuing Education credits will only be available if we have commitment from 15 professionals.

If you will only attend if CEs are available, please go the online registration site and "buy a free" CE ticket. It will not cost anything, but will allow us to track those who are willing and to notify you if we can offer CEs.

Participants may earn 14 CE credits.

PER is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. PER maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

PER is an NBCC Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP) and a co-sponsor of this program. PER may award NBCC approved clock hours for programs that meet NBCC requirements (Approval # 5536). Please check with your state counseling board to see if they accept the NBCC providership.

PER is approved as a provider for continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards, 400 South Ridge Parkway, Suite B, Culpepper, VA 22701. www.aswb.org. ASWB Approval Period: 4/15/09 - 4/15/12. Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval. The following recognize the ASWB program: AK, AL, AZ, CT, DC, DE, GA, ID, IN, IA, KY, MA, MD, MI, MO, MS, MT, NM, NC, ND, NJ, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VI, VT, WA, WI, and WY.

PER is approved as a Continuing Education Provider by the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) Provider #374 (exp. September 30, 2011). This workshop covers the following counselor skill groups: clinical assessment, ongoing treatment planning, counseling services, and legal, ethical and professional growth.

PER maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

For additional CE information please call PER at 800-892-9249 or e-mail support@per-ce.net.

To receive CE Certification you must sign in and out each day of the training, complete the training evaluation, and complete the CE Request Form. CE Certification will be mailed to you approximately 4-6 weeks from the conclusion of the training.

PER will issue a Certificate of Completion and/or a Letter of Completion to all participants requesting CE credits.

*If we are unable to provide CEs, refunds for the seminar and/or CEs can be requested until March 20, 2011. All refunds will be distributed 3-4 weeks after the seminar.

[From:  Finding Hope for Challenging Children and their Parents ]

The only other bill I found that relates to child maltreatment and abusive methods to control children is H.R. 4247, Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act, a federal bill proposal which will apply only to students in both public and private schools that receive federal funding.  I have yet to see if the bill has passed, because it still seems to be stuck in the senate. 

[See: Restraint and Seclusion, as it is used in therapy ],

So where does this leave us?  Parent-educators like Nancy Thomas, and her ilk, are free to charge people to learn their teaching methods for the child unable to bond, because there are no laws protecting a child's right to safety in his/her foster/adoptive home.

There's a fine line between "earning a child's respect", and torture.  There's also a fine line between "discipline" and severe punishment.

A lay person promoting his/her style of parenting should be held accountable if she's profiting from her written suggestions, which happen to be promoted by many service-providers within the adoption industry, who receive money, via adoption subsidies.

It makes me sick

I as a child went to the cascade center. I know exactly how it feels to have it done to you. My sister was Krystal Ann Tibbets the little girl who was killed by "holding therapy" in july of 1995. Reading that people are still doing this makes me sick. So many people are unaware of the risks that are being taken when they do it. Some do it out of anger and some do it because they thought that it would be benifitial like my parents for example. Many people really need to really check out these types of unknown theraputic ideals before they do them... It is very sad. If anyone would like to know my own expearances and what I know about holding therapy email me.



I don't know what wayward is up to... but if he is still around he would love to share your story with the world... 


yep the RAD therapy world is still alive and well...

Pound Pup Legacy