Child’s Death in ‘Attachment Therapy’ Raises Questions, Los Angeles Times Reports
Today's Los Angeles Times features an article profiling the events surrounding the death of 10-year-old Candace Newmaker, who was asphyxiated during a "rebirthing session" to treat her "reactive attachment disorder." Candace was adopted by Jeane Newmaker five years ago, but suffered from "angry outbursts and rebellion." The child was eventually diagnosed with "reactive attachment disorder," after being taken to a series of doctors and mental health professionals, who gave her various "mood-altering medicines." Not satisfied with the results of this "mainstream" therapy, Jeane took Candace last April to the town of Evergreen, Colo. -- the epicenter of therapy for reactive attention disorder -- where "attachment therapist" Connell Watkins would administer a two-week treatment program for the child. Halfway through the program, Watkins decided to conduct a "rebirthing session," which is used by "at least a few therapists as a form of role-playing and psychodrama," the Times reports.
During a birthing session, an individual is wrapped in sheets or blankets, usually with the head exposed, and surrounded by others with pillows, who press down, mimicking birth contractions. Watkins conducted a "more extreme" version of the session, however, which involved wrapping Candace in a sheet covering her body and head. Watkins and three others positioned themselves on top of Candace, who was covered for 70 minutes and died from asphyxiation. While Watkins called the event a "horrible accident," the Jefferson County district attorney's office decided that the session was "a horrible crime," and charged Watkins and three of her associates with reckless child abuse resulting in death. Jeane Newmaker was charged with a lesser count of negligent child abuse resulting in death. Watkins' trial is slated to begin March 29 (Siegel, Los Angeles Times, 2/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.