3/26/15 – Debra “Kali” Miller, psychologist, had her license revoked by the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners. The reasons the Board gave were based on a case where a tween she had been treating prior attempted suicide. She had diagnosed the child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (Board says, wrongly). Her methods to the parents for treatments that were considered serious enough by the Board to revoke her license included having the child drink milk from a baby bottle while sitting in his father’s lap, having the parents place small treats in his mouth for good behavior, having him sit for a certain time period in a cross legged straight posture. They were also advised to separate him from his siblings, and put an alarm on his door. The child was confined to his bedroom for extended periods of time.
Now whether or not Dr. Miller did do something that deserves to have her license revoked, I don’t know. I’m not arguing for or against her. But let’s look at what the media, and the Board, brings up as “harmful” and in their words “might have contributed to his suicide attempt.”
If the parents followed her recommendations, and the media says used it as punishment, rather than the way it was intended to be used for, then why aren’t the parents charged with child abuse?
Since when is giving your kid a sweet treat for behaving a bad thing?
He had to sit in a cross legged position for certain lengths of time – isn’t that called a time out? Now that’s wrong too?
They put an alarm on his door so that they would know when he left his room. No locks, no barring the door – simply a notification of the door opening. Well, folks, turn off those damn house alarms – apparently Oregon’s Board of Psychological Examiners says that damaging your kids! It makes them suicidal! Well, guess we’ve just solved all the incidences of teen/tween suicide across the country. And here we were, blaming the poor ole social media…..
I laughed at the misdiagnosis as being part of the reason: how many times has your doctor misdiagnosed something, only to find out later, or after more tests, that wasn’t it? Put any two psychologists in the room and they will always disagree on a diagnosis. If that were a reason to take away a medical license, we’d have no doctors!
Looking at the other more unorthodox ways she suggested treating this child…. drinking milk from a bottle while sitting in his dad’s lap. There is no indication that the child was forced to do this against his will. There is no indication that it was a humiliating experience (like done in front of his friends, posted on Facebook) for the child. It was an attempt to recreate a bonding experience the child may have missed…. maybe good, maybe not, but without further evidence in this case that it was abusive to the child, how does this play into it her license issue? Doctors try medications “off label” all the time. I guess because the pharma companies put big money into it, then that’s ok, even if in a lot of cases those are actually proved harmful… but if there’s not money in it, then it’s bad. The other things – separating him from his siblings – do we know if this child was abusing his siblings? Was he a danger? We don’t know. And I don’t care what some board says, if one child is bullying/hurting another child or pet in my family, I will keep them separated until it no longer happens. Finally, putting him in his room for extended periods of time – didn’t most of us get sent to our rooms when we misbehaved? What is an extended period of time? 15 minutes? 8 hours? No details given. So tell me, dear Board, what are the guidelines? It seems children’s services doesn’t think (so far, anyway) any of the things the parents did were enough to bring them up on child abuse charges…. So why are these methods being brought forth as the criminals?
Anything we do – it seems now a time out can be considered “harmful to your child” – can be twisted into looking like it’s something more than it is, can be twisted into looking evil and abusive when it’s not. This is one of the reasons why parents of traumatized kids, who need to parent differently, are quiet on how their households run, are quiet on their discipline methods. The “normal” methods don’t work because our children’s brains aren’t wired normally. So we adapt, we learn, we change how we do things to teach our children how to get along in life. And yet this is also the exact reason we need to speak out, as a group, as a community, because methods are being demonized, ideas are being demonized that shouldn’t be. Yes, these methods can be used abusively. Anything can. But that fault lies with the individual, not with the method or ideology.
Whether this particular case was a witch-hunt or whether Dr. Miller was a bad therapist, I’m not here to judge. I don’t have the facts. But what the media, and the Oregon Board, has done, it put these methods on trial and found them to be guilty. And that I will not sit down for. There are thousands of children with severe issues from trauma and attachment, whether this child was one of them, again, I don’t know, I don’t have the facts. But I do know children that do have these issues. I invite each member of the Oregon Board of Psychological Examiners to take just one – ONE – of these children into their homes for specified time period – I will provide not only the child but will specify the time period – and then we can chat about whether you call it RAD or depression or DSED and whether a door alarm will make your child suicidal. Only then – when they have actually walked the walk… only then, will their opinion matter to ME and we can have open dialogue.