HEAL’s espouses opinion and untruths about the personnel of therapeutic programs with no proof whatsoever. No one at HEAL is a trained therapist, psychologist or childcare expert. They have never set foot on the campus of nearly all of the programs they claim to have abused their residents. Their goal is to simply shut them all down …
Their opinion of therapeutic program staff…“Program staff/directors are master-manipulators, liars, and crafty salespeople. They are great at…blaming the kids (that they see as “throw-aways”) for the program staff’s own wrong-doing knowing that many parents send children to programs as a punishment.” Source: http://www.heal-online.org/warn.htm
Their opinion of the industry: “…this industry is fraudulent, abusive, torturous, corrupt, and often deadly. We will not condone or recommend risking any child or young adult’s well-being by placing them in a private, unregulated prison under the complete control of strangers.” When asked if there is any “good” therapeutic program, their response is consistently “NO!” Source: heal-online.org/parentsupport.htm
An example of how HEAL incorrectly reports on programs: A boys ranch we are familiar with is characterized by HEAL as “It looks to be a basic slave/labor camp” and they go on to recommend against placing a child there because of that and because the program has a levels system. In fact, HEAL knows nothing about this program, its staff or how it operates. They assume that the boys help with the cattle ranch as unpaid labor, but that is totally untrue. They assume that the owners are getting rich, and in fact, the owners have to supplement the costs of the program out of their own pockets. The boys are taught to be horse “whisperers.” They are given an unbroken horse when they enter the program, and by interacting with the horse and how the horse can be a mirror of their own attitudes, they can see more readily how they are acting. The horse, in essence, teaches the child to think and behave in a different way. It is an awesome program with a strong and unique therapeutic approach that should be congratulated and emulated, not torn down and called a “slave/labor camp.” To say that is unconscionable and irresponsible, as are most of the reviews on HEAL-ONLINE.
HEAL specifically focuses on destroying faith-based programs…Nearly every Christian program in the country that has been around for a few years is on HEAL’s list of so-called “teen torture and abuse” facilities. Yet they know so little about most programs that they don’t even know that a number of the programs that they list are not teen facilities at all — they only work with adults (and they’ve gained high praise from the government for their effectiveness). HEAL obviously doesn’t know about the inner workings of these programs, but has lumped them all together, assuming that all religious programs are automatically abusive.
We recently had a parent contact HEAL by phone about a specific boarding school. They tried to discourage her from enrolling in any Christian program, period. In fact, when she asked them, “What Christian program do you recommend?” someone named Simone, who calls herself a survivor of a teen program, told the parent, “All treatment centers are not designed to help but to brainwash and abuse.” She recommended the parent not consider any Christian program, adding “All Christian homes are the same — brainwashing cults.”
Tragic accidents are not always a reason for a good program to be shut down. In some cases, HEAL pushes for the closure of programs where a tragic accident has occurred, calling it “abuse” whether or not it is the direct fault of the program. In one case, a girl fell while on a hike and died. In another, a child died in an accident in the program vehicle. These accidents are terrible to contemplate, but life is fragile. HEAL jumps on these tragic events to make it appear that deaths must go on all the time. Incredulously, they even claim that programs are killing and burying kids on their property and covering up deaths. The truth is, any injury must be reported immediately to state authorities, and the percentage of deaths of teens while in programs is far less than deaths of teens outside of programs. In other words, kids are safer in a program than they would be otherwise. It is also proven that teens learn better while in a boarding school setting because they are less distracted and are given more help in learning.
HEAL always assumes the worst, even when they can find nothing wrong with a program. For instance, see this review: “HEAL’s concern is that this program is very tight with the behavior modification industry, including some confirmedly fraudulent and abusive programs.” They go on to say the program should not be considered because of this fact, and of course, their definition of “fraudulent and abusive” has more to do with it not allowing the child to do whatever they want to do, including leaving the program at any given time. Source: http://www.heal-online.org/investigate.htm
Or, just because a program is located in a particular state, they tell all parents to stay away: “HEAL recommends no parent subject any child to any program in Utah, as Utah is corrupt and refuses to regulate or take action against confirmedly abusive programs.” Source: http://www.heal-online.org/investigate.htm