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

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: 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 Or, see: 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 "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:

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:

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: and

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,

Angela Smith
HEAL Coordinator

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