Attachment Therapy Survivor Lisa: Preschool Torture Manifests in Adult Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Day 850. Survivors found: 11

It seems so big right now, I don’t know how concise I can be, but I’ll try.

I was 4 years old when my parents put me into an attachment therapy nursery school. I attended for a year, and had outpatient holding therapy sessions for the 2 years following. I have always known this and even have conscious memories of it, even though I had no idea why I was really sent there and why they were doing what they were doing.

After they stopped doing holding therapy (specifically compression therapy, where more than one adult lies with their full weight on you when you’re face down on the floor), I had to put the whole experience in this “what they did must have been okay” box in the back of my mind. I didn’t question it for the next 22 years of my life (I am 26 now).

As I remember, the holding therapy was done in a group, so there was a circle of “stations” (adults doing this compression form of holding therapy on top of preschool age children.) So I saw it being done to my preschool age peers, as well as having it done to me.

I had never explored as an adult what holding therapy was in terms of its intended purpose and philosophy. About 4 weeks ago, I had a night of very disturbed sleep; thrashing, tossing and turning all through the night. The next day something prompted me to look up holding therapy, and I read an encyclopedia article. Then everything started flooding back.

The first 3 days I had great difficulty eating. I’d been a smoker and I didn’t want to, or rather, couldn’t smoke cigarettes, and I didn’t want to drink any fluids. Since then, I’ve been having heart palpitations, panic attacks, flashbacks, memories, body shakes, feelings of mistrust, feeling like I have no future, when the flashbacks come sometimes I’ll just freeze and stare out into space, like I can’t move, nausea, pains in my arms and chest, I feel shock, and like crying quite often. I have trouble sleeping. Also, I started to feel empathy for the first time I can remember.

The only relief for me right now comes in sharing about it… I could probably talk for days. That is all I really want to do right now- to feel, express, and be believed.

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Comments 19

  1. Veni wrote:

    I can’t adequately express how sorry I am you had to experience something so horrible, but please know you are heard and believed, and you are not alone. I hope you can get good help dealing with the stress of coming to terms with the atrocities committed upon you. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Posted 26 Jun 2010 at 19:17
  2. Lori S wrote:

    I really appreciate you sharing your story and adding your voice to this fight against evil, cruel people who hide behind the pretense of ‘therapy’.

    I am listening and believing; and for any relief it affords you, I hope you keep talking. My support and thoughts are for you.

    Posted 26 Jun 2010 at 21:16
  3. Leigh wrote:

    Like Veni, I cannot put into words how sorry I am that you had to go through this experience. Thank you so much for sharing your story and having the boldness to reach out to others in this time when I am sure it must be very difficult for you to revisit something so atrocious. Be well, and know that there is healing, and hope for stopping this. And that there are those who support and believe you, and will stand with you. I’m keeping you in my thoughts. Know that you are loved.

    Posted 27 Jun 2010 at 00:27
  4. Lin wrote:

    I know words are cheap, but I wanted to say how much I admire you for looking it up, and for sharing this. Good luck with everything, I’ll be thinking of you and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    Posted 27 Jun 2010 at 04:52
  5. Theresa wrote:

    I believe you.

    Thank you so much for sharing this, and I am so so sorry.

    Posted 27 Jun 2010 at 04:57
  6. Linda Rosa wrote:

    Thank you for stepping forward to tell your story. I hope you have support close at hand for going through this difficult time.

    I work with Advocates for Children in Therapy, an organization that opposes Attachment/Holding Therapy. I frequently refer people and or organizations to the survivor stories on this blogsite. Nothing, but nothing conveys the true brutality of Attachment/Holding Therapy like these stories.

    Keep in touch, and wishing the very best for you, Linda

    Posted 27 Jun 2010 at 11:23
  7. leila wrote:

    Thank you so much for sharing. Keep talking about it, and know that you’re not alone.

    Posted 28 Jun 2010 at 04:59
  8. Monica Pignotti wrote:

    Thank you for having the courage to come forward and to share your story here. I’m sure there are others reading this who have been through similar experiences who will be greatly helped by reading about your experiences and thank you for helping to expose this outrageous abuse, delivered in the name of “therapy”.

    Posted 28 Jun 2010 at 15:18
  9. Adelaide wrote:


    Very glad you’re here.

    Shocked that there was and is such a thing as an “attachment therapy nursery school”. (in 1987-1990… this was probably the peak of Martha Welch and Direct Synchronous Bonding, at least as far as publicity went).

    (When you talked about the “it must be okay box”: I have a similar box in my mind. I call it the “good intentionb box” or the “nice idea but…”).

    I believe in what you are feeling and expressing right now and always, especially the empathy.

    (It is a challenging emotion, especially for the first time – at least that we are conscious of it).

    I hope you are able to find out why you were sent there, or live with not knowing.

    Posted 29 Jun 2010 at 01:41
  10. BMW Princess wrote:

    It is amazing how low some people will sink. An attachment therapy preschool. If those “therapists” sunk any lower they’d turn into amebeoas!! I’m so sory that happened to you.

    Posted 30 Jun 2010 at 10:17
  11. Katrina wrote:

    Lisa, you are not alone….I went through this “therapy” as well, and like you I also have PTSD. The good news is that with hard work and a good therapist (trusting again is hard, but we’re adults now) you can and will work through all of this.
    So sorry you had to go through that. Thank you for coming forward and sharing…helps me not to feel so alone too.

    Posted 30 Jun 2010 at 17:31
  12. Fainites wrote:

    Respect for being able to talk about your experiences. It helps protect other children. I had no idea this had been done on such an industrial scale. Best wishes for the future.

    Posted 03 Jul 2010 at 13:56
  13. R. Pennington wrote:

    Thank you for sharing your story and exposing this treatment for what it is, child abuse. May you continue to have the courage and strength to work through this and know that there are many who support you.

    Posted 04 Jul 2010 at 07:07
  14. Kate wrote:

    I am a family and child development student on the graduate level and just heard about this ‘treatment’ and am appalled. I hope that you have someone physical to talk to about these traumatic events and I am so thankful that there is a way to get the word out about this ill-advised attempt at treatment.

    Posted 07 Jul 2010 at 23:27
  15. Rinda wrote:

    thank you for coming forth;

    maybe some day this all will stop and the government funding will too

    Posted 08 Jul 2010 at 14:15
  16. Em wrote:

    I am so sorry that you had to go through that.

    Posted 09 Jul 2010 at 15:39
  17. Fainites wrote:

    Do you mind my asking – what encyclopaedia article you read on holding therapy?

    Posted 16 Jul 2010 at 14:49
  18. Von wrote:

    Shocking and brutal form of fake ‘therapy’, so sorry you had to go through it and hope you get proper help now to get over it.You’re not alone, there are many other survivors out here.

    Posted 02 Aug 2010 at 00:58
  19. Priscellie wrote:

    Thank you for having the courage to come forward with your story. I hope that you are able to find some degree of comfort in the support of other survivors and friends–you are not alone in your suffering. Your testimony is heard and believed. This brutal practice must end!

    Posted 30 Aug 2010 at 07:24

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 1

  1. From A Search For Survivors - Lisa’s Story, Part II: “I saw other children forced to undergo the same things I had to, but for longer. Or being forced to undergo things that were even worse… I remember feeling grateful at first that it wasn&# on 15 Aug 2010 at 17:20

    [...] Day 900. Survivors found: 11 Read part one of my account here. [...]

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