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Re: Vista RTC Utah School- any stories or reviews??

Here is my original prose that I wrote about Vista, it was placed elsewhere and has been modified many times over the past few months.... it's very similar to the prose previously posed. Someone must have posted them here on my behalf, so I asked HEAL to remove it so I could put the most recent version up... I have reposted it here for the benefit of those poor souls that might be considering Vista as a treatment center of repute. I have also removed the names of therapists as they have indicated that they are terrified of loosing their jobs over this, simple little post. Interesting that they might loose there jobs over something others might do. Make my circumstance kind of redeeming.

I taught there for several years, and stayed to provide the clients with as much positive as possible, and help them get out of a system so destructive to personal health. I will confirm every thing the clients herein say about therapist being mean; the clients are punished for ridiculous breaches of LDS morality. Often these punishments would amount to being cruel and unusual, like wearing strange and demeaning outfits, being in isolation for extended periods of time, one specific isolation of 4-6 weeks, and doing menial labor. I witnessed that the higher in the organization the meaner, and more dishonest, the person seemed to get; a perfect Case in point is Matt Checketts. Between Matt D. and Matt Checketts the over all milieu is kept in chaos, and no one knows who is responsible, as they kind of play off each other. You reach Matt Checketts and he treats clients and employees alike with distain. A chemical dependency counselor told me a story about him in a session with a client, Matt C. threw a used bullet shell at a client and yelled, "you just dodged another." I sat out side of another therapists office while he was on a tirade, full force yelling! From my perspective that kind of illogical, emotive, and inexcusable behavior is destructive. The therapist said to me later in tears, she just didn't understand his reaction. I was threatened once by a therapist, if I didn't do something (something that wasn't even my responsibility/work load) that he would call have Matt C. “talk to me”, and that would not be pleasant..... with what I have seen now I am sure that it would not.

Currently the only redeeming quality the place has to offer is a few of the dedicated therapist, and many of the faculty. Denis Wilson for example is perhaps the most level headed and genuinely nice human being I have ever met. Aarica Butler and Caryn Wehmeyer are both amazing teachers and dedicated to teaching, though they have had to fight the organization so hard just to deliver good content that it wouldn't surprise me if they left. The teachers across the board are not licensed and Ned Heitz, (the current principal and a man way over his head in the job) is claiming that everyone on his staff is working on being licensed. The truth is that any teacher with a license would get a job in an educational facility that supports their work, and Robyn Roberts at the ARL (Alternate Route to Licensure) program has made it unequivocally impossible for RTC school, such as Vista, to get licensed.

Finally, I would address anyone thinking of working there, don't. The administration of this program brings in a lot of money. In calculating it each client pays 10K a month they each bring in about 100K a year (the average stay is 8-10 months with some stays being much longer) There is an average of 20 clients at Vista Dimple Dell, and 35 at Magna, and presumably 20 at the newest facility Sage, At Vista Magna alone they are grossing $3.5 million, despite that they would attempt to have you believe they cannot afford things the clients need. They, the administration, keep things just imbalanced enough that everyone is in crisis mode and unable to really effect change. I am not by any means opposed to companies making as much as possible. In this case the administration often does this by being mean, irrational, seriously elevated; leaving clients and employees always wondering what the correct course of action should be. The trickle down effect causes the therapists to give the same to the clients and as a result the clients are kept consistently trying to figure out what to do, and how to behave. In the end, nearly all clients become supple, and obedient.... they go with the flow until they get out. The really smart ones can recover and deal with the level of mental abuse the incurred at Vista; others buy into the belief that they need an after program and are shipped off to VCS, a program run by the same people.

When I was fired, I was never given a reason, or warning on any level that I was doing anything wrong, then one night in Oct of 2014, I received a text message from Ned Heitz. The message informed me that he had decided to terminate my employment. Then the company Charles Sandy, fought me on the unemployment, claiming that I had been insubordinate. Something opposed to everything I had ever heard about. In fact the things he brought up (things the unemployment advocate told him were irrelevant to the case) were behavior patterns that Matt Checketts had told me specifically to do. This is not the epitome of a functional working environment, and the kids suffer as a result.

I have been advised by numerous people in the job-searching world, Utah’s job connection for example, to remove Vista from my resume, as it looks really bad, and have done so. The day I did I got a call back from a company. I am very ecstatic that Heal is doing some work to investigate the problems here. In the end, and using personal experience and reflection on what I saw there, I would question the decision to place children at Vista, or any other residential treatment center. At the first sign of trouble, pull the kid, it’s not as hard as they make you think. I do certainly agree that these kids often need help, but there are many ways to get that help, without trusting the folks at Vista.

Further more, if you have any experiences you would like to share I have been working on a publication about the place, as part of my Phd program in Cognitive Neural Psychology gathering stories and such to document as much as possible about the place. I asked Matt C. to give me a statement but he quickly declined to defend or even talk to me. You can reach me at

Swede Larson

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