Holding therapy – also known as cuddle time or the Welch method – is a type of psychological intervention used to help children who find it difficult to form a relationship with their mother.
The therapy consists of forced holding by a therapist or parent until the child stops resisting or until a fixed time period has elapsed. The carer does not usually release her or his hold until the child “surrenders” and looks into the carer’s eyes. The carer then returns the child’s gaze and exchanges affection.
Holding therapy is based on the idea that intense physical and emotional contact between the mother and child will repair the broken bond between them and form the foundation for normal development.
The therapy is used to treat a wide range of children with an attachment disorder, including children with autism, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, depression etc.
Holding therapy is different to simply hugging or cuddling a child, where no force and no coercion are used.
The theory behind holding therapy is weak and unproven.
There is no high quality research evidence to suggest that holding therapy is effective as a treatment for autistic people.
There have been numerous personal accounts of the damage caused to people with autism and other conditions.
We cannot recommend holding therapy as an intervention for autism on either theoretical or empirical grounds.
Please read our Disclaimer about this intervention.
Last Updated : 15/04/2013 Back to Top