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Therapist Says Rebirthing Procedure Is Valuable Tool In Right Hands

Posted May 23, 2000

— Alternative therapies like rebirthing are considered radical and even dangerous by many mainstream therapists. The people who initiated the rebirthing movement in the 1970s say it is a valuable tool in the right hands.

Raymond Knight, a rebirthing therapist, says an incident in Colorado, where a 10-year-old girl died, bears no resemblance to the training he received or the therapy he practices.

"It seemed extremely brutal, the fact that the child was begging to be let out," Knight says. "She said that she couldn't breathe. These people were putting physical pressure on her. I was shocked to my core."

Jeane Newmaker surrendered to Colorado authorities Tuesday after being charged with criminal negligence for the death of her 10-year-old adopted daughter, Candace. Candace suffocated after being wrapped in a flannel blanket and surrounded with pillows in a rebirthing procedure.

Four others, including two therapists, are charged with reckless child abuse. Newmaker posted a $5,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on September 6.

Knight has rebirthed about 300 people over the past 25 years in his hot tub. He says the Colorado therapists were totally irresponsible in how they handled the process.

"Whatever these guys were doing out there in Colorado, it bears no resemblance to how I was trained," Knight says.

Supporters of the therapy say most people may have had a less than ideal birth experience. They believe the experience leaves them with a negative impression of life. The rebirthing process is designed to release that birth trauma.

Knight says the rebirthing method, as developed by Leonard Orr in the 1970s, does not involve blankets or pillows, just verbal coaching and a special breathing technique.

These days, Knight spends more time as an art dealer than a therapist. He still believes wholeheartedly in rebirthing.

"I have seen stuff, like out of the Bible," Knight says. "I have seen the blind see and the lame walk. I have seen miraculous cures behind this process."

Knight says he has been through the rebirthing process as a patient many times himself, which he believes is crucial to being a good therapist. He says there needs to be tighter controls over how people are trained and just how much experience they need before they can apply the therapy.

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