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Thank you for your review. We are on the brink of sending our 15 yr old son (currently at Second nature}to Vista. After reading your review we cannot do that. You have mentioned in the last line of your review that there are other ways to handle the problem. I'm wondering if you are willing to talk to me on the phone? My son can't come home at the moment and I can elaborate upon it if and when we talk.
Our child is at Blue Fire and is having a great experience. We are now considering the next step. The therapist at Blue Fire says he needs more work in a controlled environment. Your last sentence stated that there are many options to help these kids. Could you elaborate on this please? Call me on my cell please. 817-715-1131. Christopher
Thank you so much.
I received a phone call and an email this evening from a person currently working at Vista, as a therapist. She directed my attention to this post from a former teacher, and intimated that the company was going to pursue litigation with me as a result of the post from the former employee. I have chosen to address this post now as a result. The truth is that I agree with the post content, and saw a number of things similar to this behavior pattern from the administration and many of the therapists. There is nothing illegal about full discloser of these issues. I want it to be known that the material in the post, while cutting to the company, is in fact true from my own personal experience. I would be happy to expound upon anything that would be needed to clear any confusion on the issue. I do agree with the post, in suggesting that anyone considering treatment at Vista, would find better options elsewhere. if you have any questions I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professor Swede Larsom, BFA, MHA, Phd.
Everything you said is completely untrue. I went there. I experienced it. You were just the creepy weirdass yoga instructor. They are in no way abusive or unfair. When you witness the situations that cause students to have to wear all green and have a staff member with them at all times, it is because they threaten to hurt or kill themselves or others, or actually physically attack somebody or try to hurt themselves. It only lasts a couple days until their personal therapist is confident that they will no longer want to do whatever the original action was. If our parents want to communicate with us, they are always allowed to do so if it is important, we just can't spend all our time on the phone, and there are a lot of people trying to use the phone. Overall, Vista changed my life, I don't know where the fuck I would be without it, but any asshole like this guy shitting on it is just salty because HE fucked up and got fired. Obviously kids will hate it while there and maybe even exaggerate or even lie about how horrible it is, but if they actually work on themselves and use the program instead of just acting like a little bitch and trying to be tough all the time, they will get NOWHERE. But it is a good place that has really helped a lot of people get their lives on track.
Dear "Past Vista Attendant",
Thank you for posting on our forum. Here is what you wrote:
"Everything you said is completely untrue. I went there. I experienced it. You were just the creepy weirdass yoga instructor. They are in no way abusive or unfair. When you witness the situations that cause students to have to wear all green and have a staff member with them at all times, it is because they threaten to hurt or kill themselves or others, or actually physically attack somebody or try to hurt themselves. It only lasts a couple days until their personal therapist is confident that they will no longer want to do whatever the original action was. If our parents want to communicate with us, they are always allowed to do so if it is important, we just can't spend all our time on the phone, and there are a lot of people trying to use the phone. Overall, Vista changed my life, I don't know where the fuck I would be without it, but any asshole like this guy shitting on it is just salty because HE fucked up and got fired. Obviously kids will hate it while there and maybe even exaggerate or even lie about how horrible it is, but if they actually work on themselves and use the program instead of just acting like a little bitch and trying to be tough all the time, they will get NOWHERE. But it is a good place that has really helped a lot of people get their lives on track."
The first issue is that you do not identify who the "you" is in the first sentence. One might assume you are speaking about Swede Larson, but many people responded to Larson and it is unclear whether you are disclaiming all reports posted by Swede and other posters or solely disclaiming statements made by Swede. If Vista offered a proper education, your argument and writing style would reflect that and it does not.
Secondly, assuming you are speaking about Swede Larson, he identified himself as Swede Larson. If you are speaking about Swede Larson specifically in regards to his former employment by Vista, then you acknowledge that his statement of his name and identity are not "untrue" thereby negating your initial statement that "everything you [assuming you means Larson]said is completely untrue. You acknowledge that Larson both worked for the program while you were there and that his name is Swede Larson. Therefore, your entire opening premise regarding everything said by Larson being completely untrue is itself untrue and injures your credibility. This is something you should consider when writing similar responses or online comments.
Thirdly, HEAL has 122 pages of police calls and complaints involving Vista. Source: http://www.heal-online.org/vistapolicecalls.pdf HEAL has also received multiple complaints about this facility from parents and former attendees. Degrading and humiliating behavior modification is ineffective and harmful. In addition, here are the top 5 reasons no child or youth, including you should ever be subjected to segregated congregate care:
a. Segregated care is unconstitutional and a civil rights violation. It is only permissible if a person is unable to survive independent of an institutional environment. For more on this, watch the HEAL Report at https://youtu.be/C4NzhZc4P0A. Or, see: http://www.ada.gov/olmstead/ which includes in part: "United States v. Florida – 1:12-cv-60460 – (S.D. Fla.) – On April 7, 2016, the United States filed an Opposition to the State of Florida’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. In the Motion, the State had asked the Court to rule, on a variety of grounds, that the United States could not recover damages for unnecessarily institutionalized children to whom the State had been deliberately indifferent."
b. Institutionalization is always dehumanizing and coercive. Institutionalization always harms the institutionalized and deprives them of protected civil rights. Dr. David Straker, Psychiatry Professor at Columbia University's School of Medicine (Ivy League) explains this in detail at http://changingminds.org/disciplines/sociology/articles/institutionalization.htm. "Many institutions, from prisons to monasteries to asylums, deliberately want to control and manage their inmates such that they conform and do not cause problems. Even in less harsh environments, many of the institutionalization methods may be found, albeit in more moderated form (although the psychological effect can be equally devastating)." (See website linked in this paragraph for more info.)
c. Institutionalization is not in the best interest of children. Institutions are not ever better for a child than living with a loving family. Source: http://www.unicef.org/cambodia/12681_23295.html
d. Reform schools, residential treatment programs, and other segregated congregate care settings have been shown to be ineffective and harmful. Best source on this currently is: https://www.acgov.org/probation/documents/EndoftheReformSchoolbyVinny.doc
e. Boarding Schools, even the "good ones", result in a form of social death, isolation, and cause both anxiety and depression. Therefore, it is clearly not in the best interest of the youth subjected to those environments. Sources: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/08/boarding-school-syndrome-joy-schaverien-review and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/secondaryeducation/11662001/The-truth-about-boarding-school-syndrome.html
So, while I personally appreciate that you feel Vista helped you, I do not respect your criticism as written here for many reasons. People who have reported abuse and questionable therapeutic practices employed by Vista are being honest and making statements that are reasonably based on the facts. It is fine if you want to tell the world Vista helped you. HEAL has no problem with that and I have no problem with that. The issue here is that you really have no business calling other people liars because you disagree with them, especially when there is ample evidence supporting their claims and concerns about Vista.
Since you did not identify yourself, one may assume you are an industry troll or staffer of Vista trying to defend your employer from justified criticism. At least Swede Larson and myself have the courage of our convictions to identify ourselves when posting and permit for reasonable investigation of our claims and positions. You do not offer readers the same level of credibility and therefore have fatally injured your own statements as a result.
I encourage you to write Vista a letter or testimonial for them to post on their site. You could then post the link here so we can see your testimony in support of the program. I would suggest you at least identify yourself by first name or first and last initials and give Vista permission to post that along with info about when you attended so that visitors to Vista's website can verify whether or not it is even possible that you ever were enrolled in the program or if anything you have to say checks out. Credible firsthand accounts, positive or negative, require individuals identify themselves and provide facts that are verifiable through independent inquiry. For example, your initials and the dates you attended would provide Swede Larson, myself, and others information from which they could cross reference and/or question others who were enrolled at Vista at the same time to see if there was anyone with the initials you provide in attendance at the time you claimed to attend. And, even if it does match someone enrolled, if we then track the only person with those initials down to verify your statements (positive or negative, here or on the Vista site)and ask if they are the person posting here and they deny it, the statement will lose any remaining vestige of legitimacy and credibility. But, if it did check out, then it would strengthen your comment and help validate your statements.
Based on my knowledge and experience, Vista is a segregated congregate care facility and holding anyone in such a facility without a court order is a violation of their due process rights regardless of whether or not they have reached the age of majority. Therefore, unless you were court ordered, I believe on the basis of false imprisonment and due process violations alone, that you were abused and your rights were violated. And, that is true for anyone enrolled in any such program without proper due process of law.
In conclusion, I find your statement to lack credibility and to be based on ignorance of the law and ignorance of proper therapeutic procedures. I find your language unnecessarily vulgar and antagonistic. And, you truly sound like a troll or someone who is suffering Stockholm Syndrome.
I wish you the best,
You said, "GCU doesn't even offer a PhD in "Cognitive Psychology" -- Here is link for you to do just that......https://www.gcu.edu/college-of-doctoral-studies/online-phd-programs.php
Notice that there are four PhD degrees listed in Psychology, the second of which is a degree in cognitive psychology.
You have been given ample opportunity to identify yourself, but you choose not to, I am an open book and my claims are clear. I am happy to offer anyone any information they wish regarding anything I have said my email is email@example.com
Allow those here to "VET" the source that is so very critical of me, who are you and why should we listen to your negative rhetoric?
I cannot comment on Brain Works, I don't work there and am not involved with that program in any way. I never claimed to have a license to practice mental health, and am in fact not even remotely interested. The PhD program is in Psychology and if you'll notice from your own post that it is focused on cognition and instruction, that is cognitive psychology.
Again my book is an attempt to help parents avoid spending egregious amounts of money on programs that don't work. As many emails show, no one has to read my book to get my consultation...... I talk with may freely about what I know of the programs.
You keep talking about being a fraud and scamming people, what am I gaining from this other than helping. Or is it the $13 charge for a book I worked on that a couple of people didn't like on Amazon.com?
As for the PhD, I have the transcripts that show I have finished the program and achieved nearly perfect scores. That is why we (a large group of students) are fighting the school, they didn't confer the degree that we earned.
You also said, "I am on the side of the vulnerable people you attempt to dupe. Most people on this forum have anonymous user names anyway"-What anonymous user names did I use and where?
You continue to inject straw men to dodge the facts. While the irony of your claims to protect vulnerable people from fraud and unethical behavior – all while using fraud and unethical means yourself – is clearly lost on you, I hope this situation highlights the importance of vetting the claims of people, vendors -- and even facilities -- who offer consultation, products, or other services.
Address the facts. You defend the value of your coursework in your posts here, but elsewhere, you tell quite a different story:
Dear past Vista attendant,
I was you. I was a headstrong teenager who post-Vista thoroughly believed and constantly affirmed that Vista saved my life. Like you, I experienced extreme Stockholm like effects. You are conditioned (through tactics that research correlates to overall harm across a multitude of areas rather than any type of positive outcomes) to believe that if you ever have any negative thoughts or feelings about Vista, it is somehow your fault. The seeds of self-blame are sewn so deep that they become ingrained into who you are, or who you think you are. One day you will realize what happened to you and the effect it has had on your life, and the effects it will continue to have on your future. One day you will know that it wasn't your fault.
For years I managed to run from it mentally, I believed it helped, because I had to. I mean it would be gut-wrenching to allow yourself to understand that two years of your life (extremely precious years in regards to the span of human development, but I digress) were stolen by people who claim to be helping, yet they do the very opposite. I internalized everything, because I was made to believe that my problems and my struggles must somehow be the result of some mistake that I had made at some completely unidentifiable, yet clearly significant point. You can only run for so long before it comes crashing down on you. I am not the only one of my fellow survivors with a diagnosis of PTSD. I am not the only one who self destructed completely after Vista. I am one of the very, very few who made it out and was able to piece together my life and make something from it. Although I am successful, I still struggle, the severity of the PTSD is okay sometimes and sometimes its bad and daily life becomes very difficult.
What needs to be understood is that at its very core, Vista is a business, and that's the bottom line. To ensure the $12k monthly checks (that's per child) they need to produce results. And how do you produce results to please the wallets (I mean the parents)? You grossly misuse your education in the psychology field to devise and implement behavioral modification techniques that quickly produce the desired effect. Checketts is a con-artitst, and a genuine disgrace to the profession as a whole.
Give it some time, you will be back. And there will be people to support you.
So I have read a number of reviews
My experience with my daughter was outstanding
My wife and I travelled 500 miles interviewing RTC’s over the course of a week. We hired consultants who made suggestions. However we felt it necessary to see all facilities available to us. To be honest it wasn’t really close. Vista was the first place we visited and the other 5 were a far 2nd. We knew our daughter was ready since she just completed 100 days in the wilderness program which by the way was the best decision we made. She completed Jr and Sr year at Vista with a little less than a 4.0. She currently attends University of Utah and doing extremely well
The staff at Vista have much to do with this
Feel free to reach out to me if you need to find out more of our experience with the very painful process we went through in getting help for our daughter
For the protection of those who Swede Larson has asked to contact him personally regarding his "research," please be aware:
Swede Larson (aka DrSwede / Professor Swede Larson PhD / Dr. Harland Larson PhD / Dr. Swede Larson / Da Swede Larson / Harland Larson / Professor Swede Larson of Fortis College / Harland Larson PHD (ABT)) does not have a psychology degree of any kind and has been posing as a psychologist with a PhD, as having expertise in psychology, and as head of a research team, among other fraudulent claims, in order to sell a book on Amazon
He has been scrubbing the internet of these claims since his fraud was exposed in other internet locations, like this disability support forum where he attempts to sell his "research" (details and links):
As always, vulnerable groups should exercise caution and vet the credentials and claims of those they interact with on the internet.
HEAL received what we believe are Harland/Swede Larson's transcripts from Grand Canyon University. You will find them posted on our site at www.heal-online.org/slarsondoc.pdf. We hope this helps clear up any confusion.
Unfortunately this transcript only shows that Mr. Larson took courses in Grand Canyon University's online PhD program, not that he earned a PhD. GCU does not offer a PhD that leads to licensure as a psychologist.
This does show that Mr. Larson has been falsely claiming to have a PhD for quite some time. Check the dates on the coursework. On this forum alone -- as far back as November 2015 -- he was representing himself as a PhD with "a team of Psychologists and neural scientists:"
Mr. Larson does not appear confused about his degree elsewhere on the internet, now that he is organizing litigation against GCU for the lack of one:
(see comments posted by Da Swede Larson -- 4 months ago:)
"Fraud and Deception are occurring, the staff and faculty I worked with hugely mismanaged my dissertation journey, leaving me with huge debt, no degree, and even if I had finished the degree, it was not what they outlined at the beginning in my paperwork... meaning the degree would not have been useful in securing employment as a psychologist...[...]"
***Please use caution when interacting with people requesting information on the internet and vet sources. This is especially important in groups and forums that serve vulnerable populations.
Currently you recognize we have the most effective hack roblox rips off website around, and also you recognize that this roblox hack functions.
I have thought a lot about concerned's response and ad hominem attack on my character and credentials. I have made no secret about my fight with the University I attended. I did indeed complete the substantial school work as outlined in the admissions paper work at that school to gain a PhD. Not only did I complete the work, all of it, I also did so with nearly perfect scores.I am happy to share those credentials with anyone interested.
Now, "Concerned" calls for us to vet our sources but offers no clear indication of who this person is. To be honest, he sounds like one of the two owners of Vista, the CEO.... Matt Checketts.
None the less the truth of the matter is in fact that my credentials are not in question or even relevant here. The abusive ad hominem attack disregards my argument altogether and simple attacks my person.
Let us get to the crux of the matter, Vista and many other RTC's in Utah are breaking with human right, and what is ethically permissible. They are doing this on the ground as outlined by Angela, and sanctioned by the government in Utah. One doesn't need any degree to see what that the behavior of these social workers is uninformed and abusive. The number of comments that I have from past clients who have undergone this treatment, is telling. I have decided to move forward with the publication of those stories. This will bring to light that since Maia Szalavitz wrote "Hep at Any Cost" little to nothing has changed in the RTC's in Utah.
To the person who had the negative experience & said that the teachers weren't licensed in CA, are you speaking to the Vista rtc in Magna, Utah or the Vista program in California?
I attended Vista in the late 90's. The place was horrific. They practice "shock therapy" ,as well as, isolation. They would put kids on "RO" in which we weren't allowed to speak, embarrass us, scream in our faces for hours, and generally belittle and bully us into compliance. Please do not send your child there to be verbally abused and mentally tortured!! My mind has literally blocked out so much of what happened to me there and in the wilderness program I went too. All I remember is small flashes of what went on, which leads me to believe it was REALLY BAD there!! Like this website says, be sure you can have steady contact with your child, and be able to see th3m very frequently!!
It was more arounderstanding 12 years ago, so 2004 ish...
Thank you for your post, these are precisely the types of posts that will help protect potential future clients from garnering negative life experiences from those claiming to offer treatment for psychological hardship/infirmity.
When I was there bathroom breaks were limited to two to four minutes, this place was hell. It was literally the worst experience of my life. I finished my nine month stay there ten years ago. I am a successful well adjusted adult now and have a great relationship with my parents. So no lasting damage for me but I would definitely recommend anyone considering this as an option to make a better choice
Is this in any way related to the old "Vista" program that pre-dated the "AmeriCorps" program? Those are government youth activities that seem also to include a lot of schools, houses, etc.
They were foisted on the public as some kind of domestic "Peace Corps" but they are very shadowy programs, especially Vista. I've met some strange characters who came out of those programs.
I don't want to go off-topic, but I am curious about the name "Vista" in this context.
HEAL has received the police complaint record regarding Vista RTC in Utah. Reported calls include rape, assault, domestic violence, child neglect, and life-threatening environmental conditions. You can download the police calls now at http://www.heal-online.org/vistapolicecalls.pdf.
Can't download the police calls..
The police calls file is over 280MB in size. Are you using a phone or a computer to download? If a phone, you likely don't have enough memory to download that large of a document. You will need to download it from a computer. I'm currently downloading it from http://www.heal-online.org/vistapolicecalls.pdf right now and it is taking some time due to the size of the file. But, it does download when using a system with enough memory.
Says its no longer available or the link isn't valid.
I pulled it up just fine..... make sure you are using a computer: I bet it won't come up on a phone.
I realize this is late to the discussion, however this is the only place on the internet that I have found which deals specifically with this treatment center. To preface, I think it's important to note that I'm currently actively avoiding divulging any personal information for the fear of backlash or being sent back. I think that speaks volumes about the environment.
I have concluded through my experiences that this, like many treatment centers, is a scam. Most of the people who leave relapse, as I've observed by checking up on dozens of people through social media and finding few, few people who seemed to be doing well.
Those who were doing well seem to be motivated by the fear of going back or the fear of being sent elsewhere. I believe that "success" through threats is inappropriate and ineffective.
Please don't misunderstand - Vista is not hell. I have met people (staff and clients) I admire and care about there, and I have felt joy/felt connected in that environment. Still, I believe that the program is fundamentally ineffective.
I would like to hear people's thoughts on this (if anyone is still around this forum) who have shared/witnessed this experience and to see if my observations hold any validity. I can also go further into the hierarchy of the milieu, the imbalance of control, and examples of my own experiences. I can also share positives about the facility as well. \
Thank you for reading.
This program helped saved my son's life. He has been clean and sober for 2+ years. They are not abusive and CBT works if people embrace it. Statistics and our experince prove that!
Unfortunately this post was not written by me, but it does indeed tell a clear story; that story coincides with many that attended Vista, as well as other RTC's in Utah.
Again, we get no chance to "VET" the source of this anonymous post. Do us the favor of researching who you are please, and allow us to make a decision regarding your arguments, which incidentally regard themselves toward the individual rather than the argument being made.
I will state it again for everyone to hear, Vista Treatment center does indeed Visit many terrible and inhuman practice upon the students there. While few find help, many find disappointment, fear, demoralization, inconsistency, and even direct abuse. Those that survive these places do so despite the practices there, not because of them.
Again, as I have said several times here and else where, I offer no services to anyone online or in person as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker..... what I do offer is my knowledge of the program in question. I am interested in giving folks more knowledge to protect them from scams like Vista, or other types of programs that are not. My work is an attempt to arm parents with knowledge that will protect them, and their poor children, from these places and their abusive programs. I am not the first or the only person to make claim against this practice of "help at any cost" and I surely won't be the past.
It seems that the only thing you can focus on is my problems associated with the PhD program I completed.... and the abusive ad hominem attacks on my person, and the claim that I am preying on vulnerable people, though I don't know how.... I offer my claims against these programs freely to anyone that has emailed me. I have protected hundreds of poor teens that might be duped by the people at Vista!
Also that you will not allow anyone to get a sense of you, who you are, and where you come from..... you are merely a critic of my attempt to help! I do apologize that you have taken offense, I only want to protect our poor kids from experiencing the emotional hardship of encountering programs that put abuse in the guise of treatment. This was the reason I attended Grand Canyon University in the first place.
jesus ******* christ i would absolutely never put my name on here just because of the kind of verbal attacks taking place right now... “concerned” ... more like concerning. honestly it doesn’t matter to me who “concerned” is or what they are claiming. it could be will smith trolling this forum and it doesn’t even matter because regardless of who it is it’s a good example of how the therapists and directors acted just overtly taking consequences or accusations way too far and being far too brashly stubborn to consider where to draw the line. as for me i sincerely don’t give a **** about swedes credentials or anything he’s “claiming” i just know that i trusted him more than 95% of the staff there most of whom just go through their shift ignoring the verbal abuse as if that’s just how people normally treat each other. there was a stark superiority complex existing among most staff members and i only care that i feel like i just found someone who i can reach out to about my experience even if this post is several years old.
i would disprove of any program that uses shock and break therapy. consequently the abuse of power running this place is honestly sickening. i swear to god i would discourage any parent from sending their kid here. i do not think that under any circumstance, that these troubled children—most of whom are struggling with things like trauma and abuse and depression and shattered self-esteem— deserve the level and incessant nature of this programs blatant disrespect towards clients. i ******* cringe at the thought of these people actually making money off of this and it’s good amount— especially adjusted for how cheap it is to live in utah.
so did this place get me to control my behavior? yes. was it conditioned into me by a tyrannical authority using fear tactics and cruel punishments? yes. would i ever endorse or recommend this program to someone based on my experience? hell to the ******* no. y’all got me ****ed up it’s been four years since i graduating and i still have nightmares about being stuck there. i can’t stop picking apart every single action i make and how i deserve the trauma i endure and if i dig deep enough why i’m responsible for my suffering. this program completely broke down my dignity and self-respect and discouraged us from speaking up about unjust practices. if you criticize the program you are punished. if you say anything negative about the programs practices on a phone call the staff will cut the line and you’d probably get dropped a level or some bs. i saw a client defend two others who he felt were being punished for prejudiced reasons and he was shamed by all the therapists in group and put on idk. you get dropped to RO if you accidentally stub your toe and a curse slips out, meanwhile the staff and therapists can cuss at you and say whatever cruel and degrading thing they want to us and everyone witnessing is scared to say anything because they’ll get torn apart even harder. and strange how it seems like the staff members who question or oppose the tyranny end up mysteriously without employment.
still i think the power hunger pulsing through this place is disturbingly predictable. take the idea of the stanford prison experiment, turn the prison guards into psychologists and replace the prisoners with misbehavioral teenagers. i don’t know what else people would expect in all honestly they are making thousands of dollars per day by simply treating clients like they are a case file with endless psychoanalytic possibility while constantly disregarding their feelings as irrational, what would stop them? they did not treat us like people and i would genuinely question the ones who say they would treat their own kids like this. it scares me that places like this exist and can have such disregard for an individuals needs. not sure how you can get a psychology degree and then just ignore things like the basic humanistic principles of maslows heirarchy. i did not feel safe physically and DEFINITELY not safe emotionally as the majority of these experiences were simply dehumanizing and lots of practices made me feel worse about myself than i could have even imagined before this kind of environment. there was no sense of trust with therapists who possessed a very offensive tact. how would this elicit any form of healing? i don’t want to think about this place anymore but the memories and associated feelings are frequent and intrusive and the actual cognitive and affective changes that resulted in me from this environment stem from fear and feeling perpetually powerless and defenseless and stripped of my right to think my own thoughts. i strongly disagree with vistas practices and i believe it’s not a healthy place for anyone to be. i’m not sure how to have any impact on regulations regarding programs like this. i just want their nasty ass facility shut down. not that this post needs anything more just thought i’d sp
I would love to hear your thoughts, if I have not already!!!! Swedehart@msn.com I promise to keep your information anonymous, and to make sure that the public see's what you have to say along side the hundreds of others I have spoken with over the last few years!
Don't let "concerned" bully your thoughts, those thoughts may save the life of someone who would have attended Vista, before they heard what you had to say!
Now you will get anagram solver online and solve the word game ..
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Hi, my name is Paloma, and I am a survivor of Vista RTC located in Magna Utah. I am writing this now as a 23 year old, married with a child, and expecting another one next month. The life I lead today is uncomplicated, but that was not always the case. I was a “troubled teen” and had started drugs- my parents sent me to wilderness and Vista RTC as a way for me to get help. Only help is not what I got. The moment I was forcibly put on a plane by a company called “Crisis Interventions”, my life was changed forever. Here I am all these years later , just so ****ed up over what happened to me. There’s so much that went on I can’t even begin to tell it all today but I will outline some of the abuse I endured.
- I was not allowed to speak for weeks and weeks at a time. This is a punishment called RO (also known as re orientation) where you are not allowed to speak with any of the other kids. If you get caught talking to the other kids, they will also be put on RO. Being a young teenager and not being able to speak for weeks on end would drive me crazy. It was the worst thing they could do- take away your voice. I fought for a long time , tried to engage in small acts of defiance, but after not being allowed to speak for about 3 months I gave up and submitted. You should see my journals and how ****ed up they are. I literally prayed for anyone to come save me but no one did.
- if you try and leave they will strip you down, put you in bright pink scrubs and put you on something called “10 foot” it means you have to be 10 feet away from all the other kids at all times, no speaking and no eye contact. If you are caught looking at a 10 foot you will be dropped to RO. You can speak with your fingers only (1 I believe is bathroom , 2 is emergency, and I forgot what 3 is) oh and a staff member has to be within arms length of you at all times, to watch you ****, shower , dress, everything- for weeks , sometimes even months. My mind blanks out about some parts of vista. Another punishment they use is isolation rooms. I never recall being put into isolation but weirdly enough I have letters from staff reminiscing about how when I tried to leave and was put in the isolation rooms. It was in my graduation letter where this was mentioned- as if this would have been a fond memory or something. I remember the staff member made a joke like “all the fun times we had while you were in isolation” but honestly so much happened that I tried to block out I’m honestly not surprised.
- the way they abuse you the most is with therapy. They make you have 2 hour groups every day. These are INTENSE groups where they force you to feel sad or ashamed about things you don’t feel sad/ashamed about. They make you recount your sexual traumas even if you aren’t ready. They literally force you to cry about situations you aren’t sad about. If your not “beleiveable” enough , they have the group rip you to shreds and say they “aren’t connecting”. If people “aren’t connecting” then you can’t go up levels which extends your stay. I tried fighting and being my authentic self for a while until I realized I would literally never go home unless I played their game. You literally have to go into group and give an Oscar award winning performance, tears , snot the whole nine- about something you literally don’t even feel that way about. I would be “crying” reliving all these sexual traumas that happened to me that I really felt different emotions about , but be forced to only be sad and cry. I would literally be so focused on whether I was believed or not that I got nothing out of the “therapy” whatsoever , except for more trauma.
They train the group of girls to be like a pack of dogs, constantly berating the newer people and constantly telling other girls they “aren’t connecting” in group. This is called “holding others accountable” and it gives you extra brownie points and is necessary if you ever want to walk out that door. The girls will snitch on you for the most minute things just so they can get moved to the next level. I remember after FINALLY making it to a higher level, being dropped to RO because a girl snitched on me for sharing a spoon with my friend. We were eating a banana (separate ones) and using a spoon to put peanut butter on said banana. I was dropped to RO and not allowed to speak for weeks because of that. I’m guessing that because they were super Mormon that they think sharing utensils is like lesbianism or something- I really don’t know. They had a ton of these rules and everything we did was regulated down to the minutes we could shower.
They made us feel ashamed and terrible about ourselves at all time.
I was not allowed to see my parents for months at a time.
All out phone called were monitored and if we started asking for help they would hang up. (Like we literally had someone next to us while we got our phone call there to listen and hang up if you