Several parents reviews regarding Liahona Academy

Liahona Academy is a boot camp styled boarding school for boys located outside Virgin in Utah. A boy died there in 2010. The first review has been written by Anna P.

I sent my son here and it was a mistake. Most, if not about all, of the staff are not professionally trained to handle at-risk youth.

In fact, many of the staff are not great role models that put 100% into this academy. And they should because the cost is around $6,500 a month. For that price the youth should be getting top-notch counseling and a very good selection of knowledgeable teachers. The teachers are mostly cranky, old women from the neighboring area that come in just a few times a week. My child could never get any math help because there were always too many others that needed assistance and there was only one teacher for the subject. The owner is virtually absent most of the time. I can’t say all, but most of the the workers at Liahona have a responsibility that they are shirking by not giving their 100% and striving to make a real difference in the lives of these youth. These are all lost opportunities.

Parents, my advice is to try to get your child some help closer to home where you aren’t forced to give up guardianship. See counselors in your area. Get your child in a place where you can better monitor what is going on.

Then there is a review from Perry A

I sent my son here. The problem that I had with this facility is that the mental health help is not very good. The kids that are sent here deserve so much more. Even though I paid a huge amount of money for his care, they try to get away with the very least possible. Don’t send your troubled teen here until you do lots and lots of homework. Ask lots of questions and keep them on their toes. I trusted them too much. My son wasn’t physically harmed here, but he wasn’t helped in the way I’d hoped

Sources:

Former student about Agape boarding school

The Agape boarding school markets itself as a Christian boarding school. It is located in Missouri because it can be run there without any state inspection because Missouri has no laws regulating faith based schools. There are often newspaper articles about teenagers who run away from the school. They use the ACE curriculum which means that it is difficult for the student go get their grades acreddited back in their old schools. Here is a testimony found on Yelp from a former student:


See this staff member try to victim blame every negative review is truly sickening and a product of the culture pushed by Agape. On my first day I saw another kid beat til his face was black, blue, and swollen. I fell in line, I did as I was told. I was the highest rank within 6 months and left as a shining example of Agape reform.

I was not prepared for life outside the bubble of the school and years later suppressed memories of the mental abuse haunted me. I suffer from bipolar disorder, but my parents like many radical evangelicals reject much of modern psychology and refused to medicate me, instead I was sent to Agape, paid for by my own college fund. This staff member commenting is a liar, PACES at the time were not accredited and my entire year there education wise was a complete waste. I saw the documentary “kidnapped for Christ” and found myself openly weeping like I was 13 all over again (and the school in the movie was like summer camp compared to Agape in 1999-2000).

This school left a scar I fear will never heal. In the entire year there I never saw a doctor a single time, my bipolar diagnosis was never even discussed. I was alone with no one to talk to about the thoughts that haunted me, when I needed help the most I was given only orders to obey and rules to follow. I don’t know what Agape is like now, those I’ve spoken to make it sound like it has changed significantly and is no where near the cult labor camp it amounted to 15-20 years ago. But don’t you dare blame me, don’t you dare discount my struggle, my pain.

I will carry the institutional abuse with me for the rest of my life, and to my knowledge none of the staff have been held accountable for the hundreds of children emotionally destroyed by this school. I got help and am doing well but I can’t say the same for countless of my brothers who shared my burden…..shared….. these kids needed help, instead we were indoctrinated with a perverse interpretation of the Bible very parallel to that of Westboro Baptist Church and as a result many are dead and most will carry with them the darkness of their time there like a heavy chain for the rest of their lives.

Source:
The original testimony (Yelp)

Re-Creation Retreat testimony

This testimony was found on Yelp. The marketing department of the rehab facility might have removed it since we harvested it. The facility is located in Arizona


My whole RCR experience was just a joke. First off the website is a fake. RCR is nothing like that. They have all these things that are not even real. The pictures are not even girls from RCR. When your at RCR you have very little communication with your parents and everything is approved by them before you tell your parents anything so how do you really know if your daughter is safe?

I was sent to RCR October 2013 – Feb 2016. I only left once for a month home visit. Yes some of that was my doing however I could have been home way before but they found any reason to keep me. I got dropped from level 3 to level 1 for having a poor outlook on RCR. If you show how you really feel you get in trouble. I was put on silence multiple times where I was not allowed to interact with anyone and if I did I had to write a 1000 word essay. I was on silence for like 6 months straight. I was told by 2 different staff I have no rights.

One of my best friends got her faced burned my the stove there and all her eyebrows were burned and her face was pretty bad and they didn’t even take her to the hospital. they handed her a wet rag. she asked to talk to her mom and they said no. My other friend was so sick of RCR she punched a window and had to go to the hospital and then got sent to juvie spent 5 hours there and since randy wouldn’t pick her up and bring her back to RCR she got put in foster care. well the next day randy told us some lies about he wasn’t involved with the decision which was a total lie. Anytime i talked to my friends they would always tell us we couldn’t talk and they wouldn’t even let us sit next to each other. One time me and my friend were sitting next to each other talking at the fireplace about going to college and randy yelled at us saying we were telling secrets and that we were not allowed to talk again. I literally got dropped for so many things and than other girls would do things like I did and wouldn’t even get in trouble.

A girl in my room was trying to kill herself in my bathroom and staff had to come in and restrain her and for about 30 mins all you heard was her screaming and cussing, when it was night time and I was trying to sleep. I literally have been blackmailed to say things about other students and if i didn’t i would be dropped. when a big incident happens i asked staff if they told our parents and they said no that they did not need to know and that we couldn’t tell them either, wouldn’t you want to know that one of the girls got punched in the face and her hair ripped out by another girl. Majority of the staff are rude and disrespectful and you can tell really dont want to work there. you can not be honest about how you feel. i was sent there to work on my problems but this place just added to those problems.

It was one of the worst times of my life. there are some key highlights though and good things. i graduated high school. i made some amazing friends , some of my best friends who I talk to everyday now. seminar changed my life thanks to dean ! some of the staff helped me so much but majority of them no longer work there ! but if you do send your daughter here make sure Mike is her therapist and Erica is her mentor. the best staff are , Erica Mike Terrasue guy Alana Bree and that’s really it. I would only send your daughter here short term nothing longer than 6 months.

Sources:

Open Sky Wilderness testimony

I attended Open Sky Wilderness Therapy for about 2 and a half months (or 10 and a half weeks) earlier this year. It has been a few months since I “graduated”. I did not go to an aftercare (or follow up program) and I am home now.

Before going, I had depression problems, drugs, being suicidal, all that good stuff. I was given the choice by my (new-ish) therapist after a serious drug incident to be hospitalized or to go to Open Sky. Going to a hospital did not seem great and I knew that he and my parents would get me over to Open Sky anyways. I reluctantly agreed to go with a sliver of faith that the program would help.

I arrived in the Durango airport, CO, and my father handed me to the program’s transporters (3 people in their mid-late 20s at most). I was driven to urgent care for a checkup, blood drawn, and a drug test. We went to a mexican place for lunch which was kinda nice. Then we went to “the ranch”: a dumpy shack they used for storage. There I handed over all my belongings and was handed my new set of belongings. It was standard stuff like rope, tarp, footwear, clothes, my weekly ration of unappetizing hippie food (the block of cheese was nice though), etc. We drove a long way over to the Utah desert in the middle of almost nowhere.

When I first arrived at the campsite and saw my group, I immediately knew I had made a mistake. Six boys, three guides, everyone covered in dust. Everything was dirty. The guides were young like the transporters, whereas I was hoping they’d be older and more experienced. I was on “gateway”, as all new patients are, where I sit separate from everyone with a guide and get a student mentor. I was placed on “high safety watch” because of being suicidal, which meant a guide was within arm’s reach at all times, and a bunch of other annoying safety precautions. At night, I had to sleep in the guides tent with a tarp over me and a guide at each side.

The next day we did a 6 mile day hike (no pack, just a small satchel of stuff) through the desert valley. The day went pretty standard, which I’ll outline in a bit. What was important about the second day was that I fully understood the program that day. One of the largest themes of the program was copious consequences and trivial rewards. Consequences were things like 20 minutes of silence for cursing, having the entire group walk to someone’s shelter if they forgot something, or “drills” where if you didn’t do something in a slotted amount of time you’d have to do it over again until you made the time. Drills applied to things like washing cups, making shelters, putting on backpack, packing up, and other things. There wasn’t much reward other than you get to make a quesadilla (called cheesy torts. There was a weird vocabulary here) if you bow drill a fire (bust a fire), or bs like “sense of accomplishment” for things. This system is designed to basically shrink your world. I pledged myself that I would not become a dog to the consequence-reward system that day. It actually worked out that fire busting and hard skills came natural to me and I basically never got in trouble. That basically made it so I was immune to this part of the program.

There are essentially four steps to the program: the four “directions”. South>West>North>East. The South is learning hard skills like pointless knots and building construction packs (c-packs, a backpack from tarp and string). In the south you get your impact letter, usually a week or so into the program. That letter is your parents listing all the reasons for being sent to the program. You must read it out loud, in full, to the entire group. You then respond to the letter by mostly repeating it to your parents so they feel heard. The south lasted 5 weeks for me, which was within normal range.

The West you get a backpack. In the west you’re supposed to do deep self discovery. This is where most of your work gets done and it generally takes a similar or longer time than the south. One of the important things you do in the west is a letter of responsibility, or the impact letter response with more “i’m a screw up and I regret the past”. I spent the remainder up till the last few days in the west.

The north you get a headlamp, and it’s all about leadership. Leadership, leadership, leadership. The east basically you are a master at the program and you are perfect woohoo. There’s a book “the student pathway” where guides sign off various things like makes a fire or weekly things like was a positive influence. You’re supposed to get everything signed off to move. In practice, your guides or therapist just move you whenever and most people graduate in the north. I had about half the things signed before I moved to each direction. You graduate whenever your therapist and parents decide. 10-12 weeks is normal (weighted towards long stays).

The program actually moved to Colorado on my 3rd day, so I’m speaking from that point of view (setting only changes a few things anyways). The week looked as such: Wednesday is guide changes and food (and other needed items) distribution as well as “group meditation” (everyone comes together to do yoga and meditation and see the graduates leaving), thursday you leave for expedition, you get back to base camp monday, tuesday is chores, shower (pouring water from a watersack over you with pisspoor shampoo and conditioner), and meet with therapist. Tuesday you also send a letter in response to the letter you received from your parents the week before, and then you get a new letter from them. Therapist reads all letters (but not censors) by the way. About the food. Weekly personal food was 2 bags of peanuts with raisins (“gorp”), one bag of oats and raisins (“muesli”), one bag of straight oats for oatmeal (no sugar ever), a 1 lb block of cheese, and four pieces of any mix of oranges and apples. You get 1 hot meal per day, which is dinner. Dinner often came out to be a crappy tasting quinoa mush with vegetables or whatever. Students cooked the meals and sometimes the ingredients were good to make something like cheesy steak fries. My group had some good cooks but if you don’t have real creative people you’re out of luck for a not disgusting meal.

One week, I snuck a meal plan past a new guide which meant we had a meal of just mashed potatoes and other cooked tomatoes. On expedition you hike to a different random campsite each day. Usually there’s a “layover day” where you stay at a campsite for 2 consecutive days which is actually really helpful. You hike carrying all your stuff you need for the expedition and some group items. The shortest day of hiking I’ve had was around an hour, and the longest was eight. It’s pretty variable, and also the longer hikes were used as a tool to draw out difficult emotions. It was nothing excessive, but there was one time during an 8 hour day where the last hour and a half a guy had run out of water, and since Open Sky has a strict no sharing of consumables policy for “health reasons” (you wear the same clothes a week straight so I’m calling bs), he just had to go on until we reached camp (I give this example not because I think of it as abusive, but to highlight another one of the stupid program rules).

The one of the main goals of the program is dealing with hard emotions and being vulnerable. You’re expected to be willing to share basically everything with everyone. They treat it like everyone in the group (and program, parents, therapist) has the right to know everything about you. Because you’re not willing to share past trauma or deep things you are ingenuine. For me personally, I am selective of who I share things with. It does not mean I can’t open up; I just choose not to. I also do not wear my emotions on my sleeve.

At Open Sky, god forbid you’re an introvert. They try to funnel you into this narrow definition of a good, functioning person: extroverted, super vulnerable, positive, and open. There’s this thing called “busting and ‘I feel’” where you call the entire group to stop everything and listen to you say “I feel ____ when __. I believe I feel this way because _. My request [goal] for myself is _. My request for the group is __.” You can do this for any emotion, and you can imagine the really trivial ones that are called sometimes. I hated doing it. Didn’t do anything for me and I hate being the center of attention. Basically my therapist’s entire treatment plan for me was around “busting I feels”. It held me back a great deal the fact that I hated doing it. I’d tell my therapist that it was pointless and not helping (because I actually did give it some effort). To this she’d only have my weekly goals to do more of them.

Another main goal of the program was relationship building with parents. It was evident a few weeks in that you’re not there for you; you’re there for your parents. Your parentals decide how long you stay. They decide where you go next. This power dynamic of non-adult patients basically having their legal rights in the hands of their parents ends up being the child conforms to the parents’ demands. Now to talk about the guides as a whole. I actually really liked the guides. They can be characterized generally as young, not wealthy hippies, who truly believe that they are making a positive change in the world through working for this program. They were of really strong character, which also meant they enforced the stupidly strict rules of the program. Their only qualifications really are that they are good people and can hike.

By each kid’s end of Open Sky journey, they generally appear to be very much improved and have high hopes going out, which affirms the guides work. The guides generally don’t contact people after they leave. I don’t hold anything against the guides, because I built some decent relationships with them and they are just trying to make ends meet and do meaningful work. Bonus: they mostly live out of their cars.

My therapist is another story however. As outlined earlier, she was mostly ineffective in helping me. In regards to the aforementioned safety watch, she moved me to medium safety watch (guide gotta be within 10 feet, but no other restrictions really) after a week and a half and kept me there for another 2 weeks. She used it less as a safety precaution and more of leverage to get people to be vulnerable. The only thing she knew of how each week went was what the guides told her. I’d get 1 hour long session with her a week. That’s it. So essentially I only got one hour of actual professional therapy per week. In session we’d talk about how my week was, I’d say some emotions I felt about things that might aswell be drawn from hat, and I’d get my weekly goals (the sharing I feels goals).

After I left the program, my parents told me that she had been pressing my parents to keep me in longer and to send me to “aftercare”. The therapists relentlessly pressure parents to do this to milk as much money as possible. I never got to like her throughout the program, just hate her slightly less. My therapist was probably like other therapists: second rate therapists who went to low tier colleges for their degrees (one I knew of didn’t even have one). I also got 2 phone calls during my time there, one in the middle and one at the end. The one at the end was just about going home logistics so it hardly counted. You sit with your therapist during those calls, which is how they keep you from asking to be taken home.

Few people ever get to go home after the program. I actually went home (after a trip to China hehe) because I was a) turning 18 a week after I left and I sure as hell not going to aftercare and b) because my parents wanted me home and I had very little history with any sort of therapy. I only knew 2 other people who went home, and that was because their families simply did not have the money. Towards the end of the stay you meet an educational consultant, and they tell your parents where to send you based on probably an hour long meeting. Everyone thinks they’re going home right up until it’s decided where they’re going. Everyone thinks they’re special and their parents are not like the other ones who send their kids away. I was the only one for whom that belief was true.

A few months later, I find myself worse off than before. I have to maintain a fake relationship with mother. My therapist (who sent me to open sky) is a proxy therapist just to keep school happy. I have no support, no friends, nothing. If you’re a parent thinking of sending your child there, don’t. You’ll end up paying $50k to make your kid fit your ideals. It won’t make them better. If you’re someone who’s parents want to send you to somewhere like Open Sky or even any therapeutic institution, your parents can have you snatched from your room whenever they want. I can’t give any other advice than to do everything you can in order to stay out of this system. I was really lucky to only spend 2 and a half months in the troubled teen industry. I can almost guarantee you won’t be as lucky as me.

Source:
Open Sky Full Testimony (Reddit Troubled Teen meesage board)

Student testimony about Turn-about Ranch

Today Turn-about Ranch is mostly known to have created the hostiled atmosphere, that led to a murder of an employee. Sadly little have been done by the authorities to prevent a similar tragedy in the future. Here is a student testimony found on Google maps.

If I could rate this place 0 stars I would. I ‘attented’ TAR back in 2007. By attended, I mean taken to, while ripped from my bed at 5am by a 6’3 Samoan and an average white male.

This was completely my mother’s idea. I was generally a good kid, I just smoked pot now and then, as every teenager does, and since my mother and father were completely absent throughout my entire childhood, as I was raised by our two maids in China, they decided to all of a sudden ‘care’ when I turned 17. This for-profit institution, does nothing but damage your child. The day I returned, I hung out with the same friends, the same girls, and continued to smoke weed. On April 28th I’ll be graduating with my masters. Do you know what straightened me out? Joining the army after highschool. This place is a sham. They will cuck you for every coin you have.

Sources:

Island view RTC testimony

Island View RTC is today named Elevations Residential Treatment Center having kept most of the employees working as they used to under the old ownership. This is a testimony found on Fornits about the time when the facility operated under the old name

Interesting that I found this site. Anyways, I was at Island View for 13 months from Aug 99- Sep 00. Though I hated my stay there it did do some good for me, Iâ??m graduating from college this year and attending a graduate program in Psych oddly enough. Despite the positives I received from this program I still have nightmares almost every night where I wake up in that fucking building. For spring break in 2004 I drove from Colorado to southern California and decided to make a quick pit stop in good ole Syracuse UT. Upon arriving in the parking lot I had to get out and puke. Fuck that place, I never wish anyone to have the experiences that I had in attendance. If any of you all remember Tony I am still in contact with him, he abandoned IV soon after I left the program to start up his own.

Speaking of which…
I managed to get in contact with a few of the people
Lets see….

  • Blake: killed him self 6 months after graduation
  • Sean: Jail
  • Mike: Jail
  • Greg: Jail
  • Porter: went home for a visit on halloween of 99, did an Extacy binge at a halloween rave. (all of the above were considered model residents)

Great Program guys, real high success rate.

I also remember that they had me on so many psychotropic that I couldnâ??t think half of the time. It was like I was stuck in a shell of a body and was unable to feel anything. Upon graduation I got off of those drugs ASAP and have been doing fine ever since.

Out of all of the people in the program I would have to say fuck the staff the most, Fuck Kendall, fuck Sherry. I remember once Kendall threw me in that room because we were on ‘unit arrest’ or what ever it was called because I thanked him for the food he brought me. His justification was that I spoke when we were told to not speak. I got pretty angry about that and asked him “Why are you being so fucking rude?” he picked me up and threw me into wall and told the staff the reason why my head was bleeding was because I did it to myself. ( I was admitted for drugs mostly, but no self mutalation) As a result of this more staff was called in. They held me down and gave me a injection of thorezine and I woke up the next day with bruises on my head. I told my therapist at the time, but he didnt belive me.

Despite the EXTREME negative experiance I had in Utah, I will admitt that there was some good to it. My grades did improve, I got into a good undergrad program and a good grad program, and for the most part I cut down on drugs (I only drink now but Im 22 and that aint illegal). The folks in charge of the IV program seriously because it does have some great potential.

PS:
Another thing that pissed me off is when my parents tried to convince me that what they did was harder on them that it was on me, that is bull shit. To any parent reading this thread: I understand it is difficult to send your child away, belive me I do (I currently work for a non-prof at risk adolecent program, and I see parents send their children away quite frequently). You cannot possibly imagine what your child goes through in these programs. For the most part I think everyone whom has attened one of these programs will tell you that it did in fact scar them in some way for the rest of their life. for me, it is the nightmares, I can deal with that. Some people however cannot, my friend Blake for example, have you ever been to a funeral for a 17 year old kid who committed suicide by eating a bottle of the very drug that was prescribed to him by IV? Im willing to bet not. Also to any kid that just got out of that program and is spouting out the usuall RTC high that people tend to get post graduation, wait a year when the nightmares of returning dont go away and then tell me that IV had no adverse side effects.

Sources:

How a stay at Solstice East RTC felt – by “couchland_prevails”

This testimony was found on Reddit.
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trigger warning; psychiatric abuse

I went to solstice east for 14 months and graduated the program, and now I’m really struggling with the scars it left me with. This is really hard for me to write right now but I want to let other people know.

My parents lied to me and said I was going to school after my psychiatry appointment but I was taken to solstice instead. I had just gotten my wisdom teeth out but they wouldn’t give me any soft food to eat, when I didn’t eat because my face hurt too much they threatened to put me on eating protocol(where they basically force you too eat everything on your plate). When I first got there my therapist, Rob, took me to do equine therapy with my parents and then took my phone. After that he counted my scars in a condescending tone. Then I was made to be strip searched by two female staff and they went through all my stuff and took several things away.

I don’t remember much of my time there except for experiences that were exceptionally good. I do remember the general experience though. I was body checked twice, that’s where they make you strip so they can see if you’re self-harming. Every time you come back from a visit they search you and your stuff. When they confiscate food staff eats it. I was put on precautions which is where you have to sleep in the living room, you have to keep the bathroom door cracked open when you go in and count loudly, and you have to be at arms length with a staff. We were only allowed a short amount of time for phone calls once a week and only with parents and we weren’t allowed to say anything negative about the program. All of our incoming and outgoing mail was censored and sometimes withheld. There were “interventions” where you were not allowed to talk and were kept away from the other students.

There were a lot of really immature staff who were on a power trip. My therapist didn’t do much therapy with me, he wouldn’t talk about my trauma with me, and he insulted and gaslighted me constantly. We weren’t allowed to talk about certain things with the other students, only the staff, but staff had to put it in notes for our therapists so I didn’t talk about any thing that was bothering me.

What really helped was the other students, from them I learned how to take care of myself and how to cope so now I’m actually doing really good behavior wise, I broke my addictive habits, but I’m absolute shit mentally and I’m afraid to talk about it for fear of hurting my friends(something solstice taught me). there were some amazing staff but they were a definite minority.

I am afraid of talking about my problems with friends for fear of hurting them with my problems, my authority issues are intensified, my psychosis still goes undiagnosed(I was gaslighted about it), and I suspect I have some sort of ptsd from a lifetime of abuse(I’m pretty sure i had it before solstice but they wouldn’t listen to me). solstice is a huge source of trauma, I affects my behaviors and the way I view the world, I dissociate almost daily, sometimes when faced with a trigger about mental health care I get very sudden intense spells of dizziness like my brain is freaking out trying to shut everything down. solstice also was not autism friendly, the staff and therapists are horribly ableist. I’m currently at a autism specific dorm going to college and my therapist said i was going here to “take care of the autism thing”, thankfully this place i’m at right now is nothing like he must’ve thought. they don’t give a shit what i do as long as i go to class.

Now i am trying to heal but it’s really difficult and life sucks right now, I don’t trust mental health professionals anymore so it will take me a very long time to trust my new therapist(not affiliated with a program), but so far she seems to agree that solstice did me harm(from the little i’ve told her) so thats good.

That’s about all my memory holds about solstice right now.

Sources: