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Invitation to Dr. Ronald Federici

October 5, 2010

In my previous post and in a number of other places, I have invited Ronald Federici to identify at least one statement I have made regarding him or his work that he believes to be factually false and provide me with a factual rebuttal. So far, no response, so just in case my invitation got lost among my writings and was missed, I am making it the topic of this posting. My only conditions are that they have to be statements that I actually made with the link to the statement proving that I made it and the statement has to be of a factual nature rather than an opinion that cannot be absolutely proven true or false or some controversy where there are opinions both pro and con.

My intention is to provide truthful information in my writings and so if I have unintentionally gotten any facts wrong, I am very open to correction and should a factual rebuttal be presented to me, I would be more than willing to correct it.

I have also been accused of hate speech by some of Federici’s supporters (see the last two postings in the discussion that occured on an adoption site, for example). To me, it sounded like this unidentified individual was wanting the moderator of the board to suppress any discussion that did not agree with that person’s point of view by labeling it as having ulterior motives, being condescending, hateful, etc. and quite frankly I found it highly presumptuous that this person would presume to speak for all adoptive parents in a number of states since there appears to be a diversity of opinion among adoptive parents about the issues that were being discussed. Nevertheless, I invite Federici’s supporters to provide me with specific examples of  statements I have made that they consider to be “hateful”.

I do not hate Dr. Federici or anyone else and again, as I stated several months ago in describing the purpose of this blog, my sole intention is to provide truthful information and not to make any specific recommendations. I recognize that I cannot force anyone to do anything and so my sole intention is to provide information. What people decide to do with that information is up to them.

There are also insinuations being made, linking to an anonymous WordPress blog that describes an alleged lawsuit by Federici (I say alleged because none of us have been served with the papers posted on that blog) that I am being “paid to defame”. This is false on both counts. First of all, I sincerely believe that nothing I have written qualifies as defamation. Criticism is not defamation unless it makes maliciously intended false statements. Second, I can state with complete honesty that I have not made or tried to make any money at all from my criticisms of Dr. Federici’s work, my service on ACT’s advisory board is strictly pro bono  and I have no conflict of interest business-wise as I am not running any kind of business related to adoption or anything that could be considered competitive with what he does. There are anonymous postings claiming to be me that lie about this, saying that I am offering adoption services but these are lies and forgeries and as soon as I became aware of them, I took immediate steps to correct this false impression by posting a forgery alert on the website that these anonymous postings  linked to. Obviously someone wants to make it seem as if I have a business conflict of interest when I do not.

That anonymous posting also contained false innuendo that I was in some way linked to HAMAS, which I am not, nor is the individual named, from what I know although I have never met that individual and prior to discussions where my name was being linked with his, had never even heard of him, nor he of me. Interesting that I would be accused of both being linked to HAMAS and being a Quran burner, all in the period of one month, both of which are, of course, false allegations.

  1. Dr. Cathleen Mann permalink

    It amazes me that someone can earn a doctoral degree or a medical degree and not have become used to be criticized. This process is an essential part of training us to be mental health providers or academics or whatever we are. No one is immune from criticism; nor should they expect to be. I find extreme defensiveness to criticism one of the hallmarks of guru or cult like thinking. No one has ever arrived. There are no perfect answers for every situation. If Dr. Federici has these amazing, breakthrough treatment which do as he says they do, the line to come to him would be wrapped around for miles. A little humility goes a long way. Beware of perfect answers to complicated problems.

    • Dr. Federici’s doctorate is a PsyD as best I’ve been able to determine, is from what was at the time, the Illinois Professional School of Psychology, now known as Argosy University. While this is a properly accredited school, graduates can obtain licensure and Federici’s license as a psychologist is legitimate, it is also known that the PsyD is generally a less research and more clinically oriented degree than the PhD. The freestanding professional schools of psychology have an interesting history. Here is a book review by Harvard psychology professor Richard J. McNally that details some of this history and how it traces back to what are known in psychology as “the dirty dozen”. See:

      This isn’t to say that all PsyDs from freestanding institutions are ignorant of research and can’t take criticism, but the history of these institutions and what motivated their formation, according to Dr. McNally’s review, is interesting and I think, rather telling.

  2. Chris Bessell permalink

    As a British citizen it is striking to me how much public debate there is in the USA regarding attachment/holding therapy. There is virtually no debate in England even though the the state pays millions of pounds for children in their care to undergo the treatment in a highly systematic way. Can anyone enlighten me as to why this might be the case?

    • Fainites permalink

      Hi Chris. You have stated on another blog that hundreds of Looked After Children in the UK are undergoing attachment therapy. I asked you for evidence of this. Now you are saying “millions of pounds” is being paid by the state for this. Please, please can you provide us with some evidence or information regarding this? As I stated before – I am only aware of one facility that undertakes holding therapy in the UK that has childeren paid for by social services. If there are lots more, I’d like to know. Thanks.

  3. I believe there is some controversy in the UK, since there was a recent article in the British Journal of Social Work on holding therapy that noted this was a controversial topic and was inviting a debate. If there is less controversy in the UK, my guess is that it may have something to do with their libel laws having chilling effects. People might be more afraid to criticize it there.

    Libel laws in the UK are different from the US. In the US, the one suing for libel, the plaintiff has the burden of proof to refute the statements whereas in the UK, the defendant has the burden of proof, to prove the statements are true. Simon Singh’s case is an illustration of that. He lost several rounds making it a very expensive battle, but ultimately he won. Simon Singh was a defendant in a lawsuit by the British Chiropractic Association. You can read about the details here:

    The case sparked a major push for libel reform.

  4. Chris Bessell permalink

    Thanks for this. The case explains an awful lot about the lack of debate re controvertial issues in England

  5. Chris Bessell permalink

    Just out of interest, has a legal challenge or criminal investigation ever been launched in relation to AT in the US on the basis of failure to gain consent from the child or from the person with parental responsibility?

    Also, could you tell me if there are any cases in which AT is used in children’s homes without an adoptive parent or foster carer being present?

    • Not that I am aware of. Regarding AT being used in children’s homes, yes, there are homes called therapeutic respite homes (or other similar terms) used by a number of AT proponents (this is not Federici’s model — he has his own methods that he describes in his book), particularly those using the Evergreen model. They use parenting methods recommended by parenting coach Nancy Thomas. When Evergreen was running therapy intensives and in other programs as well, the children stay in these homes while the parents stay elsewhere. Sometimes the children stay on in these homes past the two week duration of the two week intensive, sometimes for months. Of course, the parents or legal guardians sign permission for their children to stay in those homes. This is legal because the parents consented. Here is some more info on Nancy Thomas’ recommended methods:

      and as this website notes, Nancy Thomas was one of the people who tried to bring down the website for using fair use quotes from her work. As you can see, she and the others failed and the website remains up, thanks to their courageous current ISP who will not be bullied and intimidated by baseless threats when the quotes constituted fair use. See the news item dated July 8, 2010:

      One of the other therapists listed who was also complaining, permanently surrendered his license after years of investigation and charges against him:

      So there have been disciplinary actions against a number of the therapists listed, but not all.

  6. Dr. Cathleen Mann permalink

    Chris, in terms of your question about homes using AT…we only know what we know. Since a lot of these techniques are learned in a psychologist’s or therapist’s office, or practiced after reading a book or attending a seminar, there is little oversight. Even in a psychologist’s office, unless the session is videotaped (few are), there is really no way to know what goes on in there. So, even though this is a good question, there is no way for us to know what goes on with children. Also, with the Candance Newmaker case, even though she died, law enforcement may never have known what happened to her except that the AT therapists videotaped the session. This is a very telling thing for me — they absolutely did not believe they were doing anything harmful or wrong, so they videotaped it to show to others in training, but a child died. Pretty unbelievable where arrogance and lack of oversight will take us.

    • Taping sessions is more common than one might think.. Amazingly, Candace’s therapists and also from what I understand the therapists at what used to be the Attachment Center at Evergreen videotape many of their sessions. Candace’s therapists were formerly at the Attachment Center at Evergreen but had since branched off into their own offshoot and were practicing on their own.

      This, by the way, is also the case with many of the DID therapists who treated adults. In a case involving psychologist Judith Peterson and other therapists working in a DID unit, there were a number of tapes available of the sessions that reveal how brutal the therapy was that became part of the evidence. Transcripts available:

      Another case where sessions were taped involved a client Ellen Plasil, who sued her psychiatrist and eventually won. She wrote a book about it, entitled “Therapist”. These tapes documented all the ways in which he took advantage of her sexually. The videotaping was supposedly part of this so-called therapeutic process.

  7. Fainites permalink

    There is a quite disturbing tape that periodically appears on YouTube of Feinburg undertaking classic AT. It was a training video intended for dissemination. These therapists obviously believed in what they did (or do).

  8. Fainites permalink

    By the way Chris, I replied to yopu and gave you some links here.

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