Psychological researches have gifted humans with a wide range of therapeutic techniques, which have enabled human being attain a functional and healthy life inspite of set backs. However, some therapies which were apparently perceived to be helpful towards mankind, further studies indicated differently, and found thses methods to be regressive. One such therapeutic method is holding therapy. It is an alternative intervention for treating childhood mental illness, it makes use of physical restraint as a treatment mode, not just as a safety measure. Although some systematic research synthesis (Craven & Lee, 2006) categorized HT as an effective and have been found to supportive toward treatment of mental illness in children, several other researches (Lilienfeld, 2007; Mercer & Pignotti, 2007; Pignotti & Mercer, 2007) contradicted this view and indicated HT as a potentially harmful treatment and they unsupported it by evidence of effectiveness.
What to expect?
The therapeutic method involved retraining or holding a child in order to provide treatment to the child. The treatment aimed at making the child do what is apparently correct for the child by making the child to forcefully agree to what is thought to be is correct. Researchers who observed such sessions found out that children cried and screamed during the treatment procedure, they were terrified and fearful through out the process. Later, it was also found, a large number of children who received holding therapy ended up with anxiety disorders.
How does it work?
HT is practiced in two different forms:
- It is sometimes also referred to as the Attachment therapy (AT) it should be noted that this is very different from attachment based therapy and involves uncomfortable physical restraint which is usually against the will of the child, by several therapists or by parents, and also additional methods such as limiting of diet and toilet use are also employed in the procedure. The method has been associated with substantial harm of the child, to the extent of the child death (Mercer, Sarner, & Rosa, 2003). It was previously widely used for treatment of autism (Zaslow & Menta, 1975), but nowadays if at all used, it is generally used as a treatment for reactive attachment disorder.
- The second form of the holding therapy is carried out by parents under the coaching of therapists, and uses face-toface restraint of children by parents, usually with a small child who sits on the parent’s lap or with the parent lying prone on a supine older child. The second method may be called HT/WP, as it is based on the techniques which was developed by Martha Welch (Welch, 1989; Welch et al., 2006) and Jirina Prekopova (Prekop, 1983).
When is it used?
The path of development of psychotherapeutic intervention was not easy. Just like any other mental science, the researchers had employed certain therapeutic procedure which at that time apparently appeared to be helpful but turned out detrimental in longrun. The holding therapy was used during the early days to help children with autism, attachment based disorders and other childhood mental disorder. With the observation of the harm that might be imparted in the children during the therapeutic process, it use have been restricted.
Role of therapist:
The therapy has been heavily criticized and in the United States, a Congressional resolution rejected the use of one component of HT (rebirthing); In the United Kingdom, the British Association for Adoption and Fostering passed a similar resolution in 2004. therefore it is better to avoid such kind of therapy which imparts harm upon the child instead of enhancing well being.