institute for behavioral assessment
Staff List and
HEAL SPECIAL REPORT:
aspen institute for behavioral assessment
parent handbook REVIEW
HEAL has found
multiple problems with Aspen Institute for Behavioral Assessment's
(Aspen) application and parent handbook, including apparent unconscionable terms and/or
contradictory terms leaving us to believe that Aspen Institute
for Behavioral Assessment is running a money-making scam on families in need of
assistance. We will be alternating between purple
background and/or words for HEAL critiques and questions and
a light pink with red words
for the words of
Aspen in their
parent handbook (as were
downloaded from aspenassessment.com on September 20th, 2010). HEAL will not repeatedly
link to the application and/or parent handbook in full throughout this review,
and, we advise readers to scroll back and/or open the
application and/or parent handbook in a new window while reviewing our work for accuracy
or if additional contextualization is preferred. This is
an independent review and if you are in need of legal assistance
or advice, please
consult with an attorney.
Application (Page 1)
TO JCAHO REGULATIONS, WE ARE UNABLE ACCEPT ANY CHILD INTO THE
HOSPITAL WITHOUT HAVING THE APPROPRIATE SIGNED DOCUMENTS.
This means that if we have not received the paperwork before
your child arrives, the child must be kept off the premises
until we do receive it."
"At time of
admission, a deposit of $18,000 is due."
sign the second form, but do not fill in the party to release
information to. That way, we will be able to witness over
the phone when you give us permission to communicate with
another professional or program, without you having to fill out
a new form and fax it every time."
Aspen Institute for
Behavioral Assessment is not listed on the "full list" of
licensed hospitals in Utah. And, the Aspen Institute
for Behavioral Assessment is not licensed by the
Department of Human Services. From HEAL's research, we
have found that the state of Utah may not require private mental
health or psychiatric "hospitals" to be licensed. "Representatives
from only four States, Alaska, Delaware, Utah,and Wisconsin,
reported no provision for such licensing." (Author: Boyd E.
Oviatt, click hyperlink above for more information and complete
report.) In fact, Aspen Institute for Behavioral Health
appears to be
licensed with only a general business license as a
foreign limited liability company in Utah.
And, Aspen Institute
for Behavioral Assessment claims to be accredited by the Joint
Commission. This also appears to be a false statement.
Island View Residential Treatment Center is accredited by the
Joint Commission (JCAHO) and claims to also provide services at
Aspen Institute for Behavioral Assessment. This shows
that Island View is accredited, not Aspen Institute for
Behavioral Health. Beyond this,
the Joint Commission has been in repeat trouble for failure to
enforce patient safety standards at programs and facilities they
accredit. There is no suggestion by the Joint
Commission that Aspen Institute is ever surveyed for compliance,
only that their sister facility, Island View, is so surveyed.
deposit at time of admission covers 18 days of the program
according to the charges outlined later in this review.( see:
page 26) The cost of this program is $1000 per day.
paragraph in this section raised serious concerns due to the
alleged falsity and/or alleged fraudulent activities of Aspen
Education Group. Also, given the Power of Attorney
required, it seems to place Aspen in a position to misuse
confidentiality waivers signed without identifying the party to
receive the information so that Aspen can write in the names you
"approve" orally/by phone when "needed". Or, write-in
whomever they wish and later claim you approved it by phone per
the contract. That would turn into a "he said/she said"
debate with no means of proving either side sufficiently for a
court. Regardless, as you will see below, Aspen takes no
responsibility for anything they do to you or your child and
admit to placing your child in harm's way, both emotionally
(psychologically) and physically. This coupled with all of
the releases of liability including for negligent and/or
careless acts perpetrated by Aspen that result in serious harm,
really places injured families in a difficult position.
HEAL suggests families avoid Aspen Education Group programs,
including Aspen Institute for Behavioral Assessment.
Application (Page 4)
desire to mail any material to any person, they are required to
provide the material to the Institute, sealed, in an envelope or
other package, without postage. The Institute then takes
the package or envelope, without opening or inspecting the
contents, and forwards the envelope or package to the resident's
parent or legal guardian. Likewise, when any mail from any
person other than the parent or legal guardian arrives at the
Institute addressed to a resident, the Institute takes the mail,
unopened, and delivers it to the parents of the resident.
At the time of admissions you will be given a Resident ID Code
that must be on all coming mail."
This section appears to
be contradicted by the parent handbook, discussed below.
Also, with this limited ability for the child to communicate
with the outside world, it places the child in serious danger.
If a child can't write authorities or report abuse and must only
hope for a family response when in crisis, this creates a
circumstance where abuse is likely to occur and go unreported.
Other issues in the parent handbook arise as well that point to
an unhealthy and/or cruel environment in place at Aspen
Institute for Behavioral Assessment (Aspen).
Application (Page 5)
"You have the right
to request that we restrict how protected health information
about the minor child is used or disclosed for treatment,
payment, or health care operation. We are not required to
agree to this restriction."
"By signing this
form you consent to our use and disclosure of protected health
information about the minor child for treatment, except where we
have already made disclosures in reliance on your prior
They are not required
to agree to restrictions you place on how they use or disclose
your protected health information. This suggests that they
are not regulated by HIPAA and further supports the well-founded
belief above that they are not a licensed hospital in Utah.
segment above does not make sense. If they have consent
and are requesting it again, this would not create an exception
for past or future use given the context. So, this is at
least a confusing, if not misleading consent form.
Application (Page 6)
"During the course
of your child's stay at the Institute, it may become necessary
for he/she to seek treatment from an outside consultant and/or
services such as Dentist, OB/GYN, Orthopedic, Optometry, E.N.T.,
ect. You are responsible for the cost associated with
these service. I understand that the Institute will seek
parent/guardian approval prior to scheduling such
"I am aware that
the provider of the consultation service will bill me and/or my
insurance company for the services provided."
In the above, we see
what appears to be a reasonable agreement for the family to
cover all medical costs of their child while in the program.
However, in the likely event that Aspen is responsible for the
harm due to negligence, carelessness, or any other cause, they
refuse to take responsibility and leave parents paying what may
amount to a never-ending bill. This is developed further
in the discussions regarding waivers and releases of liability.
Application (Page 7)
"In an effort to
coordinate your child's medication administration, it is
necessary for you to complete the Prescription Drug Enrollment
form. This form allows us to fill the medications that the
Physician has prescribed in a timely manner without delaying the
administration to your child."
permission will be obtained from you prior to starting any new
medication (Except in an emergency situation)."
"Thank you for
your assistance in this matter as it will expedite the process
of obtaining and administrating medication for your child."
Psychiatric drugs are
experimental at best and extremely harmful/deadly at worst.
HEAL heartily recommends parents do not use or authorize others
to use psychiatric medications that are unproven to safely treat
the conditions with which very subjective "authorities" have
diagnosed your child. Please feel free to search the HEAL
site for information on the harmful effects and dangers of
administering psychiatric drugs to children. You may also
want to consider
legal articles that drugging a child without their consent
violates their rights. This is likely especially true for
minors who have reached the legal age of consent in regards to
What situations do
Aspen consider to be "emergencies"? In some programs,
children who fold their arms or make eye contact in violation of
the program rules are deemed "out of control" by staff and given
potent anti-psychotics like Haldol that put them in a semi-coma
to "calm" them. But, it is really being used as a chemical
restraint and in a punitive way. Our concern is that Aspen
may operate in this manner and that they may argue that any sign
of disobedience is an emergency situation in need of chemical
Application (Page 8)
"In cases were a
resident would like to be inoculated while at the Institute, the
facility will provide the procedure through the Davis County
If Aspen were licensed
as a hospital by the Department of Health and approved to
administer medicine, why don't they handle vaccines or other
medical needs in-house? This again points to discrepancies
between what they say they are and what they are in reality.
Also, we do point
out misspellings and other errors from time to time. HEAL
quotes program literature exactly as it is written/authored by
the program itself. We do not point out every error, but,
will make not at times. In the above statement, we believe
Aspen intended "where" not "were".
Application (Page 9)
"I understand that
this authorization extends to all or any part of the
records/information designated below which may include treatment
for physical and mental illness, alcohol/drug abuse; HIV/AIDS
test results or diagnosis. The information to be used or
released includes: ...Psychological Evaluation...Discharge
Summary...Consultation Reports...Monthly Progress
History...Treatment Plans...Progress Notes..."
"I authorize the
release of such information by mail, fax, regular telephone,
and/or cellular phone contact."
"I hereby release
the Institute from all legal responsibilities or liability that
may arise from the use or disclosure of medical records and
other health information in reliance on this authorization."
"Pursuant to Utah
State rules, I understand that in case I am below the age of 18,
my parent/legal guardian reserves the right to sign this release
without my expressed verbal or written consent."
"I certify that I
am...The patient/resident/student authorized representative, and
the identification and proof of authority that I have provided
are true and correct. My relationship to the resident is
The legal age of
consent in Utah is 14-years old. HEAL was unable to find
any Utah laws suggesting that a parent can override the civil
rights of a child without their consent. To what law or
rule is Aspen referring? Is this just a manipulation of
language to trick the child into signing the form agreeing that
they don't have rights that even the state guarantees them?
And again, HEAL understands that parents can sign away their own
rights, but, not the rights of their minor children. This
is discussed on our site at
www.heal-online.org/legalarguments.htm. It is a
serious concern and it does not seem that Aspen does anything to
show it will act responsibly and/or be held accountable for
mishandling of protected health information.
Application (Page 11)
"Medication such as
an Epi-pen should be made available at all times when potential
contact with an allergen is possible."
All medical facilities
should have Epi-pens available with the understanding that
severe allergic reactions can be triggered without a documented
history of allergic reactions by the patient. But, since
Aspen appears to be something other than a medical facility, we
wonder why the above statement is so vague and if such treatment
is made readily available or kept on hand in case of emergency.
Such is not implied by the above statement.
Application (Page 12)
Pharmacy provides services to Aspen Institute for Behavioral
Assessment's patients including, but not limited to: Medical
supplies, medications, and packaging. Patients who receive
services from Island View Pharmacy must complete the following
agreement. Island View Pharmacy will bill the
appropriate/insurance when applicable. But the
patient/responsible party will be responsible for any
non-covered charges. If no insurance/agency is indicated,
Island View Pharmacy will bill the patient/responsible party
directly through a valid credit card, as per Aspen Institute's
that by signing this agreement I indicate my wish to purchase
health care products/services from Island View Pharmacy. I
will pay for any con-pays, non-covered items, and charges that
incur while under this agreement. I authorize Island View
Pharmacy access to the above-mentioned patient's medical records
for proper medication assessment."
Island View Pharmacy
is not affiliated with Island View RTC/Aspen Education Group.
Application (Page 13)
("Agreement") is entered into by and between the Aspen The
Institute for Behavioral Assessment, L.L.C....operating as The
Institute, a licensed program which is described in the program
materials that Sponsor has received previously and which is made
a part of this Agreement by reference (the "The Institute")
and...the parent(s) and/or guardian(s) of the Resident
(hereinafter the "Sponsors")."
"On the day of
admission, Sponsor shall transfer, by a Power of Attorney in the
form received and executed by Sponsor, temporary custody of the
Resident to The Institute for the duration of the admission
period, or until the Resident attains the age of eighteen (18),
unless the Resident (a) has otherwise been placed in the custody
of The Institute by a court of proper jurisdiction or (b)
voluntarily consents in writing to remain in the Program for any
period of time beyond said eighteenth (18th) birthday."
"The Resident is
accepted with the expectation that the Resident will complete
the individual master treatment program. The Program fee
per month excludes the cost of psychotropic and other
medications, laboratory fees, specialty testing, and medical
services as may be necessary. Physician fees are also
excluded from the daily program cost. Sponsor agrees to
pay all attorney fees, court costs, filing fees, and charges of
commissions that may be assessed by any collection agency
retained to pursue collection of any outstanding sums."
received in the current due month of service are subject to a
$250 late fee and may result in discharge of the resident from
the Institute. Upon discharge, the account must be paid in
responsible for payment of all tuition and fees not paid."
daily rate fee is subject to increases upon 60-day notice."
Is Aspen Institute for
Behavioral Assessment a "licensed program"? They are not
licensed by the Department of Human Services. They do not
appear to be licensed as a hospital, and, in this portion of the
agreement they do not claim such status. And, as stated
above, they appear to be licensed solely as a foreign limited
liability company. All of this suggests misleading and
deceptive terms in the contract itself.
Aspen did not include
the Power of Attorney they require in their online materials.
Aspen Achievement Academy did include the Power of Attorney
required for that program and the documents are likely the same
or similar as both are Aspen Education Group programs. Our
concerns are stated clearly regarding Aspen's requirements under
the Power of Attorney form review (pages
G & H).
take note that most clinical and/or therapeutic services appear
to be subcontracted or to come with additional fees above and
beyond the minimum $1000 per day. What are you getting for
your money? In reviewing this contract, it appears what
parents get is a 6-week rip-off followed by a referral to yet
another Aspen-owned program so Aspen can continue to profit at
the family's expense. It certainly doesn't appear to be
The late fee of
$250 is contradicted by a late fee of $50 reported on page 19 of
the contract. These slight variations along with other
blatant contradictions in the contract raise concerns of
unconscionability and/or hidden fees and costs attributed to the
program and/or their "methods".
Application (Page 14)
"If Sponsor or
authorized third party withdraws Resident before completion of
the individual master treatment plan, Sponsor understands and
agrees that Sponsor shall immediately (1) pay all outstanding
account balances and payments through the discharge date."
"In addition to
the treatment fee, Sponsor agrees to pay for the following
expenses of the Resident: transportation from the Resident's
current residence to Syracuse, Utah, and return transportation
to the Resident's current residence; food and lodging for any
holding period before admission to the Institute and/or after
discharge from the Institute; all medical, dental,
medical-surgical hospital, prescription medication, assessment,
specialty testing not included in the daily per diem rate, and
related expenses incurred by or for the Resident, and all
required personal items specified in the resident clothing list.
Sponsors are also responsible for any additional escort fees
required for transporting Resident to and/or from the Institute
to another location (i.e., airport, doctor's appointment or
other facility), outside the normal business hours (i.e.
business hours are Monday-Saturday 9:00am-4:00pm...)."
to accept full responsibility for (1) the repair or replacement
of any property damaged, defaced, or destroyed by the Resident,
whether owned, leased, or controlled by The Institute or any
third party, and (2) any personal injury to any The Institute
personnel, other residents or third parties caused, in whole or
in part, by the Resident; and to promptly reimburse The
Institute for any costs and expenses, including legal fees, it
may incur in connection therewith."
"In the event the
Resident runs away from The Institute, The Institute will make
every reasonable effort to find the Resident and return the
Resident to the Institute or to the Sponsor. An accounting
of the expenses incurred by The Institute in finding and
returning the Resident will be made to the Sponsor who agrees to
accept full responsibility for any and all such costs and
"The Institute is
not liable for any loss of, or damage to any of the Resident's
and consents to The Institute's subcontracting certain services
to be rendered under this Agreement to persons or entities
deemed by The Institute to be properly qualified to provide said
services, at no additional cost to Sponsor unless otherwise
agreed to by both parties. The Institute is not
responsible for the services provided by such third-party
contractors and is hereby released from any liability arising
from such services."
Resident's condition is such as to need the service of a special
duty nurse, it is agreed that the Sponsors must arrange such.
The Institute shall in no way be responsible for failure to
provide the same and is hereby released."
acknowledges that The Institute offers a some sports, exercise
and recreational activities which can pose serious hazards and
dangers, known and unknown, including but not limited to,
emotional and physical injuries, illness or death that may arise
from strenuous cardiovascular activities, exposure to the
elements, plants and animals, running away from The Institution,
"acts of God" (nature), the ropes course, stress, involvement
with other residents, self-inflicted injuries, and
transportation to and from activities. Sponsor understands
that in participating in the Institute, Resident will be in
locations and using facilities where hazards exist and is aware
of and appreciates the risks, which may result. Sponsor
understands that accidents occur during such activities due to
the negligence of others, which may result in death or serious
injury. Sponsor and Resident are voluntarily participating
in the Institute with knowledge of the dangers involved and
agree to accept any and all risks."
of being permitted to participate in all aspect of resident
services at the Institute, Sponsor agrees to not sue, to assume
all risks and to release, hold harmless and indemnify The
Institute and any and all of its predecessors, successors,
officers, directors, trustees, insurers, employees, managers,
agents, volunteers, community organizations, administrators,
heirs, attorneys, executors, assigns and/or related or
affiliated business entities including, but not limited to,
Aspen Education Group, Inc. (collectively all of the above
persons and entities shall be referred to as the "Released
Parties" hereafter) who, through negligence, carelessness or any
other cause, might otherwise be liable to Sponsor or Resident
under theories of contract or tort law."
If by "discharge date"
Aspen is referring to the date they projected at the signing of
the contract for discharge as opposed to the actual
discharge/withdrawal date, then families would appear to owe
thousands of dollars for services they did not receive.
The reason there is some confusion about this clause is that in
other Aspen agreements, they require that all fees that would
have been paid had the child remained in the program be paid as
if the agreement was fulfilled regardless of the early
discharge/withdrawal. This is a serious concern and should
be clarified by Aspen.
It is a concern
that many, if not all of the "therapeutic" services of the
program are optional and appear to come at an additional cost.
The third segment
is reasonable, or would be reasonable, if Aspen's program did
not intentionally provoke or cause violent or extreme outbursts
by the very nature of their methods. It is reasonable
for Aspen to demand parents accept liability for their child's
actions resulting in damage to people or property. But,
only with that caveat that Aspen is providing a nurturing
environment and not provoking angry outbursts through
humiliation or physical assault of the children. Since it
has been reported that such outbursts are intentionally provoked
by Aspen staff at times, this clause may raise concern for
families. Aspen should insure against such incidents through
good business practice and proper insurance that would be
required of any licensed childcare program or facility. It
is wrong to solely place liability with the parents who are
entrusting the supervision and care of their child to the
program. And, families should require an investigation
into any incidents of this nature to insure that they are not
being stuck with a bill that is not their own or their child's.
Even though Aspen
demands full power of attorney and custody of your child, they
do not accept any responsibility in the event your child escapes
the program. Programs like Anasazi Foundation at least
assume 50% of the financial responsibility in such events.
is troublesome too and this is not an endorsement, just a
comparison of fact. Anasazi's practices in regards to such
responsibility seems more appropriate or fair given the
circumstances. And, Aspen's practices seem weighted
primarily on financial gain with no risk for Aspen and likely
nothing but debt and heartache for families.
Aspen is free to
steal from your child as a result of the clause freeing them of
liability for lost or damaged property. Theft of personal
property at programs is fairly common. Theft of personal
property at elderly-care facilities are equally as common.
It is always a good idea to keep any items of pecuniary or
sentimental value safe at home, this includes your children.
demands control of what "independent contractors" will be
utilized and granted the fees charged for their services.
However, Aspen does not take responsibility for the care provided
by the contractors they deem "properly qualified". And,
since they are asking you trust their judgment in regards to
choosing said independent contractors, they would arguably be
liable for faults found with their judgment in the event harm or
other violations occur. But, they demand you hold them
harmless if there is a problem with the subcontractor.
And, they put full responsibility on the outside or
"subcontracted" clinician for the supervision and care of your
child which rights/responsibilities you likely transferred to Aspen
with the Power of Attorney, and, they likely give permission in
your stead with your permission protecting everyone else from
any liability for any and all harms done to your child while in
Aspen's program. This seems to be an unconscionable
contract with many unconscionable terms.
The above also
states that risks of emotional (i.e. psychological) and physical
harm are inherent to the program. However,
psychological and emotional harm should not be an inherent risk
and stating that it is reveals the harmful nature of the Aspen
Stating that the
child is voluntarily participating in the program is an open lie
and contradicted by the sections on running away/recapture and restraint covered
above and below in
the review of page 15. Again, we remind parents that they
have the right to sign away their own rights, but, not the
rights of their minor children. This is discussed further
www.heal-online.org/legalarguments.htm. We also
reiterate that this review is independent and does not
constitute legal advice. If you need legal advice,
stated is that the parents waive their rights to pursue legal
action even in the event of serious injury or death. These
appear to be unconscionable terms given the inherent harm in
participating in the program.
Application (Page 15)
"Sponsor intends by
this Waiver and Release to release, in advance, and to waive his
or her rights and discharge each and every one of the Released
Parties, from any and all claims for damages for death, personal
injury or property damage which Sponsor may have, or which may
hereafter accrue as a result of Resident's participation in any
aspect of the Program, even though that liability may arise from
negligence or carelessness on the part of the persons or
entities being released, from dangerous or defective property or
equipment owned, maintained or controlled by them, or because of
their possible liability without fault. Additionally,
Sponsor covenants not to sue any of the Released Parties based
upon their breach of any duty owed to Sponsor or Resident as a
result of their participation in any aspect of the Program.
Sponsor understands and agrees that this Waiver and Release is
binding on his or her heirs, assigns and legal representatives
and that the Released Parties shall be exempt from liability to
Sponsor, his or her heirs, assigns and legal representatives."
acknowledges that Sponsor, and Sponsor alone, is solely
responsible for Resident's personal health and safety, and the
personal property Resident brings with him or her....Sponsor
accepts full responsibility for any costs incurred for medical
treatment due to failure to procure or maintain insurance, or
providing outdated or falsified insurance information.
Sponsor understands that it is ultimately Sponsor's
responsibility to provide payment to any hospital/emergency
response technicians/emergency transport company that may
provide services to Resident as a result of injury/illness
during the Programs."
to indemnify the Released Parties from any and all actions,
causes of action, claims, demands, damages, costs (including
attorneys' fees), expenses, liabilities and charges, known or
unknown (the "Liabilities") arising out of or in connection with
claims and/or actions relating to or brought by or on behalf of
Resident, including, without limitation, claims related to or
arising out of the Minor's participation in the Program."
"In the event of
an accident, injury, illness, or other medical necessity,
Sponsor hereby authorizes The Institute to: (a) provide
emergency first aid to the Resident at the facility, and in
route to any hospital or clinic; (b) arrange for emergency
medical, dental, psychiatric, hospital, ambulance or other
health-related care for the Resident deemed necessary by The
Institute's staff; and (c) emergency authorization of a
physician, dentist or other health-are professional(s) to
perform any procedure(s) that the health-care professional(s)
deems necessary for the well-being of the Resident. All
costs and expenses incurred for these services shall be the sole
responsibility of the Sponsor. Sponsor also authorizes The
Institute to arrange for a physical examination (including a
drug screen urine/blood test, at The Institute's option) and any
psychological assessments of the Resident deemed necessary by
The Institute prior to the Resident's admission to the
authorizes The Institute personnel to search the person and
personal effects of the Resident at any time. The
Institute is further authorized to confiscate any and all items
deemed by The Institute to be contraband or counterproductive to
the Resident's successful completion of the Program. The
disposition of all items confiscated by The Institute shall be
left to the sole discretion of The Institute."
FOR BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION/THERAPEUTIC HOLDS AND SPECIAL
TREATMENT PROCEDURE (STP). Sponsor hereby authorizes The
Institute personnel to therapeutically hold, restrain, seclude,
control, and detain the Resident by the exercise of necessary
techniques and holds when deemed necessary by The Institute for
purposes including but not limited to escorting the Resident to
and from the Institute's location, returning the Resident to the
Institute if the Resident runs away, or preventing the Resident
from jeopardizing the Resident's own safety or the safety of
In addition, in other
areas of the contract, Aspen limits all
liability for harms up to and including death and places all
risk on the side of the family. It is a concern and seems
unconscionable that a program would demand such authority over a
child while taking no responsibility for the care of that child.
What are parents really getting out of this lopsided bargain?
It is reasonable
for the program to request the power to obtain medical care in
the event it is required. There is nothing wrong with that
portion of the agreement.
HEAL thinks it is
important for families to understand the indemnity clauses
placing them in the position to take full responsibility in the
event of serious injury or death of their child in the program.
Many families have lost their children in programs similar to
Aspen and some of these deaths occurred in Aspen programs.
At least two children died at Aspen's SageWalk program in Oregon
before it "voluntarily" suspended operations as the death(s) are
investigated by authorities. These risks are very real and
parents should think if the worst happens and Aspen's methods are
responsible, how they will feel with nowhere to turn for
justice. Be careful and always seriously consider what you
are agreeing to in signing any contract. Again, this is
not legal advice. If you would like legal help, please
probable cause is a violation of the civil rights of the child.
Assuming every child, with or without a history of drug use, is
in need of a strip-search is unreasonable. Searching
children at "any time" suggests such searches are used as a form
of humiliation as opposed to being done for any legitimate
purpose. And, this is a serious concern.
to detain and control the child while in the program also shows
that the program is not "voluntary" for the child and that the
child is forced to participate in the program through physical
force. Congress is working on legislation (HR 4247, the
"Keeping All Students Safe Act of 2010") to stop these misuses
of restraint in programs and schools that often result in
serious injury and death.
The use of
physical restraint is a form of physical punishment as is using
pressure points and other torture techniques to enforce
compliance with scheduled activities in the program.
The program will argue that they have to get the kids from one
destination to another for their own "safety" and that using
restraint and other physical abuse is necessary for the "safety"
of all the children in the program. This is not the intent
of laws preventing or limiting the use of physical restraint.
An immediate threat of imminent bodily harm created by an
individual warrants restraint. Any "threat" that involves
a slow-down or delay in reaching destinations should
be managed in a way that does not violate the rights of the
child or the intent of laws regulating the use of restraint.
In addition, Aspen does not limit the use of physical restraint to
just the event in which a child is a danger to self or others.
The claim that they don't use physical punishment and that they
do use restraint beyond the limits claimed in this section of
the document suggests misleading and/or deceptive practices.
For a detailed
explanation of "behavior modification", please see our
Application (Page 16)
stay, the sponsor may ask for further clarification with regard
to the benefits and risk associated with treatment."
authorizes The Institute to use data from the Resident's
records, tests, and assessments for purposes of ongoing
research, provided that the Resident's name and identity will be
kept confidential and not used in any published materials."
"In the event
that The Institute elects to terminate the Resident pursuant to
the terms of this paragraph, Sponsor understands and agrees that
Sponsor shall immediately (1) pay all outstanding account
balances and fees through the discharge date of the Resident."
"If during the
course of treatment, The Institute, in its sole discretion,
determines that the resident's clinical needs can no longer be
met through the program delivery system, resulting in the
termination from the program, sponsor shall immediately pay all
outstanding account balances."
to exercise good faith best efforts to attend any seminars for
parents and guardians of the residents conducted by The
Institute during the Program, and to give Sponsor's full
cooperation to The Institute personnel throughout the Program,
in order to maximize the benefits of the Program for the
Resident and the Sponsor."
"If an escort is
required to bring the Resident to Syracuse, Utah to the
Institute, or to return the resident from Utah or for any other
transport deemed necessary by The Institute, Sponsor agrees that
any escort or escort service used by Sponsor, whether or not
Sponsor is referred to the escort by The Institute, is in all
respects an independent contractor contracting directly with
Sponsor. Sponsor agrees that The Institute bears no
responsibility of any kind for any such escort service or the
negligence or failure thereof."
that the Resident is presently covered, and will for the
duration of the Program be covered, by adequate health insurance
covering claims that may arise in connection with any accident,
injury or illness that the Resident may suffer or incur during
the Program; or take personal financial responsibility for such
costs. Whatever deductibles or coverage exclusions may
apply in a given case shall be satisfied entirely by Sponsor."
that the Resident is a minor, both by age and as a matter of
law, which the Resident does not qualify under the law as an
"emancipated minor," and that the laws of the Resident's state
of residence permit Sponsor to place the Resident in the Program
without the Resident's consent."
or claim arising out of or relating to this contract, except at
The Institute's option the collection of monies owed by Sponsor
to The Institute, shall be settled by binding arbitration
conducted in the State of California in accordance with the
rules of the American Arbitration Association."
The initial statement
in the above section suggests that the details of what risks are
involved in the Program are not thoroughly disclosed in the
materials provided prior to signing of the contract. This
suggests that families are not aware of what they are signing up
for and coupled with all of the waivers and releases of
liability raises quite a few concerns. What exactly is the
"Program" and why are the real risks not explicitly outlined for
families prior to admission?
references the use of your child and/or your child's data in
"ongoing research". What is this research and will you be
made privy to all studies in which your or your child's private
information will be used? If not, why not? Informed
consent to participate in any research includes knowing the
purpose of the research and the projected risks involved in
participating. This again suggests possible violations of
the Nuremberg Code (International Human Rights Laws).
And, of course,
if for some reason Aspen terminates the agreement and/or you decide it was a bad decision (with which
HEAL would heartily agree) to place your child in Aspen and remove
him/her from the program, you lose all the money you paid to
Aspen. Now, if Aspen isn't, which they don't appear to be,
open about the "environment" they create for the children which
reportedly includes both physical abuse and humiliating verbal
attacks, then you should be due a refund. The comparison
between the claims made in promotional materials and the "agreed
to terms" of the contract may mean the difference between
proving fraudulent inducement (i.e. misleading advertising
and/or oral assurances of the programs safety/success rate) and
assumption of risk (i.e. the terms of the application).
If you pulled your child from the program and believe you are
due a refund, you should
consult an attorney.
HEAL recommends that
parents ask what Aspen means by "full cooperation". If you
witness abuse and try to prevent said abuse in opposition to the
protocol of Aspen's program, will you be in violation of the "full
cooperation" clause? This is likely how Aspen sees it.
And, anyone who demands full cooperation and/or unquestioned
authority over others is not acting in the best interest of that
individual or family.
refuses to take any responsibility for "independent contractors"
to whom they refer or subject your child. Since they are
holding themselves out to families as being experts who can best
govern the "treatment" of a child, they would be considered
responsible, at least in part, for any harm resulting from those
"expert" recommendations. Also, does Aspen receive any
benefit whether financial or promotional by referring and
subcontracting with those to whom they refer? If so, why
is it all benefits for Aspen and all risks for families?
This contract seems to be an illusory contract with contrary and
unconscionable terms throughout. This is not the way
honest people do business.
In the eighth segment above,
Aspen again reiterates how the program is not voluntary for the
child. So, this directly contradicts page 14 that states
the child has "voluntarily" agreed to participate in the
program. This is clearly not the case.
Also, why are
disputes regarding a program in Utah being limited to
California? Since AAA chooses to conduct business in and
enroll children from other states, including Utah, they should
be able to be sued from the home-state of their dissatisfied
clients. If they do not wish to assume the risk of
litigation outside of the state of their choice, then they
shouldn't accept children from other states.
Application (Page 17)
"In the event that
either party is found in default or material breach of any
specific promise, term or condition expressly set forth in this
Agreement by an arbitrator(s) or a court of competent
jurisdiction, said party shall be liable to pay all reasonable
attorneys' fee, court costs and other related collection costs
and expenses incurred by the other party in enforcing its
contractual rights hereunder in said arbitration and/or court
proceeding(s). in addition, Sponsor agrees to compensate
The Institute for all reasonable attorneys' fees and costs
incurred by The Institute in connection with those matters
concerning which Sponsor has agreed to pay or indemnify The
and all matters relating hereto, including any matter or dispute
arising between the parties out of this Agreement, tort or
otherwise, shall be interpreted, governed, and enforced
according to the laws of the State of California; and the
Parties consent and submit to the exclusive jurisdiction and
venue of the California Courts in Los Angeles, County,
California, and any qualified (American Arbitration
Association-approved) arbitration service in the State of
California, County of Los Angeles, to enforce this Agreement.
The parties acknowledge that this agreement constitutes a
business transaction within the State of California."
acknowledges that Sponsor has read this agreement and that
Sponsor understands and consents to all of its provisions; that
this Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the
parties hereto with respect to the subject matter hereof; and
that all other prior agreements, promises, expectations and
conditions, oral or written, between the parties are
incorporated herein...The Institute gives no warranties of any
kind, express or implied, to either the Sponsor or the Resident
concerning the Program; and Sponsor acknowledges that Sponsor is
not relying on any warranties or representations of any kind
other than the express commitments of The Institute set forth
The first segment above
seems more a tool of intimidation to frighten you from pursuing
legal action by having you agree to pay for Aspen's attorneys'
fees regardless of the legitimacy of your claims. This
Again, why is a program
in Utah stating that the contract or agreement is a business
transaction in California? Why is Los Angeles the sole
location for disputes to be decided?
nothing in this contract but exposure to extreme risks,
extraordinary costs, and a referral to another Aspen program.
Families are asked to subject themselves to extreme risks,
including death that is the fault of Aspen's negligence,
carelessness, or other misconduct and to pay dearly for these
risks with no guarantee or warranty regarding the outcome.
This is such an unfair contract and seems to be illusory and
arguably void/voidable as a result. It may also be void as
a matter of law as some of the terms seem to imply conspiracy to
commit kidnapping/false imprisonment of the minor.
Application (Page 18)
authorize the release of the Resident's information via E-mail,
Internet technology, voicemail, or US mail. While every
effort will be made to maintain confidentiality, The Institute
accepts no responsibility for the mis-transmission that could
result in information becoming available to someone other than
the intended receiver."
And, we see Aspen
again stating they accept no responsibility for violations of
your confidentiality or privacy.
Application (Page 19)
"I hereby give my
consent to the aspen Institute to charge my credit card each
month for services rendered. I understand that if my
credit card declines, a late fee of $50.00 may be assessed..."
"I also give
consent for the Institute to charge my credit card for charges
related to shipping costs of my son/daughter's personal
belongings as they are incurred. The charges will also
include a $2.00 processing fee per shipment."
below, I understand and agree to the statement relating to
charges to my credit card and authorize the Institute to process
such transactions relates to my child's confinement."
We include the above to
show the contradiction between the $250.00 late fee mentioned in
page 13 of the contract. Is it possible that families
would be charged both fees totaling $300 per late payment?
This seems extremely excessive.
The additional charges
for sending items home is reasonable if the items returned home
are not needed by the Resident.
The third segment
above describes exactly what family's are paying for, the
"child's confinement". Parents typically don't have the
legal right to confine their children in a lock-down environment
without third-party representation for the child's interests.
This again suggests this may be an illegal contract and in
violation of the child's due process rights. Again, this
is not legal advice. If you would like legal help, please
Application (Pages 20 &
"Patient's Rights and Responsibilities"
"What is a
"Who can make a
"Do Living Wills
include organ and tissue donation?"
"What is a
Special Power of Attorney?"
State Law, the legal guardian of a minor patient must be
informed regarding Transferable Physician Orders in the event
the patient is transferred to a medical surgical hospital for
live-sustaining treatment. Associated with live-sustaining
treatments are advanced directives such as a living will."
HEAL was hoping the
patient's rights pages would include legitimate patient's rights
regarding the treatment and access to the outside world and a
legitimate complaint process. But, it is all about if the
child is in need of life-sustaining treatment and whether or not
to pull the proverbial "plug". Since Aspen is not a
hospital, from what we can see, we are unclear of the purpose of
including these documents unless it is to frighten families or
cause emotional trauma in contemplating such a horrible outcome
of said treatment at Aspen.
Application (Page 23)
"We are required by
law to:...Follow the terms of the notice that is currently in
"We may use
medical information about the minor child to provide medical
treatment or services. We may disclose medical information
about the minor child to facility personnel who are involved in
caring for the minor child while they are in our facility.
For example, the milieu staff or kitchen staff may need to know
if the minor child is a potential suicide risk so that
precautions are taken for the child's safety."
"We may use and
disclose medical information about the minor child for facility
operations...We may also combine medical information about
facility residents to decide what additional services the
facility should offer, what services are not needed, and whether
certain new treatments are effective. We may also disclose
information to other facility personnel for review and learning
What terms of the
notice are currently in effect in regards to Aspen Institute for
Behavioral Assessment? If none or very few, this is a
The second segment
seems reasonable. But, it is a concern that staff or other
residents may be given sensitive information and that they may
use it to humiliate the child as part of the "therapeutic
The third segment
again suggests that Aspen is experimenting on the children to
determine of their methods are effective. This goes to
show that they do not know the efficacy of their own treatment
models or the harm such models may cause. Why are you
paying Aspen to experiment on your child?
Application (Page 24)
circumstances, we may use and disclose medical information about
the minor child for research purposes. For example, a
research may involve comparing outcomes of treatment."
"We may disclose
medical information to a health oversight agency for activities
authorized by law. These oversight activities include, for
example, audits, investigations, inspections, and licensure.
These activities are necessary for the government to monitor the
health care system, government programs and compliance with
civil rights laws."
"We may release
medical information about the minor child to authorized federal
officials for intelligence, counterintelligence, and other
national security activities authorized by law."
"You have the
right to inspect and copy medical information that may be used
to make decisions about the minor child's care."
"We may deny your
request to inspect and copy in certain very limited
circumstances. If you are denied access to medical
information, you may request that the denial be reviewed.
Another licensed health care professional chosen by the facility
will review your request and the denial. The person
conducting the review will not be the person who denied your
request. We will comply with the outcome of the review."
What are all the types
of research conducted by Aspen Institute for Behavioral
Assessment? Other Aspen programs claim it can include
experiments regarding the efficacy and/or side effects of
psychotropic drugs. This is a serious concern as such
experimentation can expose children to long-term debilitating
side effects or results. A member of HEAL recently had a
stroke in connection with psychotropic medications prescribed
for depression/anxiety. This was after years of being off
the medication that resulted in the long-term health problems.
Parents should really consider if they have a right, either
morally or legally, to expose their children to such severe
risks to health and life without their informed consent.
What are the implications and what are children taught who are
deprived of liberty in this manner? Are they taught
submission to authority regardless of personal harm involved?
This is a serious ethical issue that could result in a lifetime
of victimization of the child who will be a willing subject to
abusers following such behavior modification protocols. Do
you want your child to be a miserable, hopeless slave to
authority? Is that the future you would want to be
prepared for? If not, don't expose your children to
environments that will dictate such results.
The third paragraph
is a concern as many of the practices (i.e. forcing children to
"wipe" with frozen snow/ice packs in freezing cold conditions
as occurred at
Adirondack Leadership Expeditions, another Aspen program)
may be considered a form of torture. Does Aspen run "intense
interrogation" tactics in order to research "effective"
practices for dealing with POWs? Is this a possible and/or
probable explanation for this clause? Generally, schools
and other institutions do not need to disclose information to
the military or national security and if truly needed, would not
need to be disclosed in a contract. This is what leads us
to believe that the research at Aspen programs may be something
highly unethical and unsuitable for children.
can request copies of information as it is their right to do so
and to obtain such copies. But, by signing the agreement
and reviewing this notice, families apparently agree that Aspen
can deny such requests. This is a concern as it will
likely result in families being unable to obtain the paperwork
to help substantiate probable claims of negligence or
wrong-doing as a result of the agreement and/or program.
Application (Page 25)
"You have the right
to request a restriction or limitation on the medical
information we use or disclose about the minor child for
treatment, payment, or health care operation. You also
have the right to request a limit on the medical information we
disclose about the minor child to someone who is involved in the
care of the minor child or the payment for the care, like a
family member or friend. We are not required to agree to
confidential communications, you must make your request in
writing to the Institute."
"We reserve the
right to change this notice. We reserve the right to make
the revised or changed notice effective for medical information
we already have about the minor child as well as any information
we receive in the future."
"If you believe
the minor child's privacy rights have been violated, you may
file a complaint with the facility or with the Secretary of the
Department of Health and Human Services."
that we are unable to take back any disclosures we have already
made with your permission, and that we are required to retain
our records of the care that we provide to the minor child."
By authorizing the
disclosure of your or your child's private records to Aspen, you
have likely already agreed to their disclosing that information
to anyone they wish without your consent. While the
confidentiality of your and your family's information is implied
by the language of much of this contract, these brief passages
disclose to you the reality of the security of your private
information in the hands of Aspen Institute for Behavioral
Assessment. These seeming contradictions suggest
misleading and deceptive practices.
Application (Page 26)
"We, as guarantors/insureds/Parent(s)
on the above mentioned patient account understand that Aspen
Institute for Behavioral Assessment may not be contracted with
my insurance provider network(s)."
understand that all insurance carriers are billed at our normal
daily per diem rate of $1000.00 per day."
will, in turn, determine what additional monies are owed, based
on the normal daily per diem rate, and will charged the account,
as per the signed financial agreement and credit card
authorization on file at Aspen Institute."
HEAL has mentioned the
above to show that Aspen is likely not covered by your insurance
provider. And, the reason for this is likely that they are
not a legitimate mental or medical healthcare provider as is
required by most insurance providers.
HEAL also includes the
above to show that the daily rate is $1000 per day and that this
does not include fees for psychological assessments or other
tests claimed to be provided or required by the program.
Also, in other areas of the contract already discussed, such
assessments are excluded from the per diem expenses. (see Page
Application (Page 26)
The primary issue with
the psycho-social assessment forms is that it is required to be
completed by emotionally burned-out and/or irrational family
members who are writing the history out from a very subjective
and biased position in regards to the child to be enrolled.
This does not show an objective or inclusive environment for
"Is your son/daughter sexually active, do they have more than
one partner, use birth control?"
relationship with significant other (feelings, sexual,
communication, conflicts, parenting, etc.)"
"What is your
childs attitude regarding his/her sexual identity/orientation?
What effect(s) does this have?"
Neglect:...Was case ever reported to the proper authorities?"
"Does your child
identify with a religion, spiritual group/church, and/or higher
resident's/family's upbringing (e.g., church membership,
attendance, youth group involvement, etc.)"
influences may be important regarding treatment at The
"Has your child
demonstrated behavioral outbursts? (i.e. swearing,
"What are your
goals/expectations regarding the focus/outcome of treatment at
Most of these questions
are very personal and it would be highly unlikely that a family,
that was so desperate to even consider the "scam" known as Aspen
Education Group, would be able to accurately answer the majority
of the above questions.
It is a concern that
minor instances of self-expression involving anger, distress, or
frustration (i.e. swearing) are considered "behavioral
outbursts" in need of firm regulation. This micro-managing
of a child's behavior is unproductive and suggestive of an
should be set by the child/young adult and his/her treatment
team. Treatment should always be voluntary.
Involuntary treatment is substantively inhumane and
disrespectful to the integrity of the individual.
Involuntary treatment imposed as a matter of convenience, as
opposed to as a result of a court order, is also arguably a
violation of the child's liberty interests. This is
affirmed by the decision in
Rice v. Provo Canyon School.
Application (Page 36)
become overly focused on the minutia of a particular report or
picture can become prey to the pitfalls of micromanagement.
As you review progress notes about your child, you will note
that the progress is rarely linear, nor consistent across the
landscape of education, therapy, the milieu, and recreational
programming. That variability is how change occurs."
HEAL's primary concern
here is that Aspen claims to provide education above, while in
other portions of their enrollment materials they claim that the
program is too short for any credits to be earned and that they
therefore do not provide accredited educational services. (see
page 11 below) Another serious concern is that it suggests
that families are discouraged from questioning practices of the
program that raise concerns, by accusing such involved parents
Parent Handbook (Page
an effort to protect the confidentiality of the resident and
parents, this section explains how you may access your child at
How will Aspen limit
your access to your child? Do you think it is right for an
employee to deny you access to your child? These types of
controls show the mentality of the program that requires
obedience from parents as well as their children. This is
Parent Handbook (Page
these reasons, the average length of stay is typically under two
months, but not shorter than five to six weeks."
Based on the above
average, you may spend $56,000.00 for a referral to a more
long-term Aspen Education Group program. That is a steep
price for a referral. That $56,000.00 is a minimum and
does not cover the excluded items such as "assessments" and
"psychiatric testing" required and/or requested by Aspen for an
"accurate" assessment and referral process.
Parent Handbook (Page
"Multi-Disciplinary Team contributes recommendations for the
Integrated Multi-Disciplinary Report (MDR)."
testing review with referral source and sent to potential
MDR with referral sources."
MDR with Parents and Referral Sources."
As stated above, this
is a 6-week holding period until a child can be funneled into a
long-term Aspen or related program. And, you are paying
them $56,000.00+ for a referral to one of their own programs.
This seems highly unconscionable.
Parent Handbook (Page 7
"Notwithstanding, regardless of the Institute's efforts in this
regard, the adolescent may approach the admission reluctantly,
and in some cases, with a great deal of opposition. Hence,
the child will employ all of his/her "skills" to convince you to
take him/her home."
"The central aim
of guilt-loading has one and one purpose only--for you to rescue
your child and bring him home."
"It is known
among behavioral scientists as "triangulation". This
simply means that one person is misinforming, lying, or telling
half-truths to a second person about a third person in order to
get the third person "in trouble"."
"The third method
is the "horror story" approach. Through misrepresentation
or exaggeration, the child tries to make you feel guilty.
Examples are: "They are not feeding me...There is never hot
water for the showers...I feel unsafe..."
"For the most
part, after about 3-4 weeks your child is over the anger stage
for having been placed. Albeit, your child might still
deal with anger for various reasons, however, such anger
typically is not for placing him at the Institute. Your
child may be angry about a sexual assault, for losing a parent,
for being mistreated by peers, etc."
"His reply may
sound something like this: "But mom, you don't understand, this
place is crazy."
The above raises many
concerns. Does Aspen assume all children admitted are
liars and manipulators? It certainly seems to be their
position. And, this is not approaching children from an
understanding, compassionate, and therapeutic perspective.
This is a serious concern given that you are leaving your child
with these people. (Hopefully, you will not be making that
mistake.) If your child reports abuse, you should take
such reports seriously and contact local authorities in Utah
immediately to demand an investigation. Reports of abuse
and neglect should never go unanswered or ignored. And,
children have died at Aspen programs and other programs after
being accused of "manipulation" and "faking". These are
Why is your child
likely to report that the environment is "crazy"? Why is a
child subjected to mistreatment by peers that create hostility
and anger in a supposedly "therapeutic" environment? These
conflicting notions really bring into question the type of
"treatment" a child receives in Aspen programs.
Parent Handbook (Page
is important for you to understand that certain core assessments
and tests should not be administered during the first 10-14 days
at the Institute. Administering a test too early may
result in false data, as the child is not acclimated to the
The above is an
accurate statement, but, contradicts the immediate "assessments"
made in other Aspen programs. It is interesting that Aspen
knows that such immediate assessments are likely to produce
false data and that they do them anyway in programs like Aspen
Achievement Academy. Where is the oversight and quality
Parent Handbook (Page
"Hence, the psychiatrist will visit with the respective resident
on a regular basis to evaluate the need, and/or the
effectiveness of psychotropic medication."
frequency of the psychiatric rounds is dependant on psychotropic
medication issues. Numbers of medications, titrating,
reduction or introduction of new medications, all influence the
frequency of the psychiatric oversight."
individual and group therapies are conducted on a regular basis
with two aims. First, to initiate, or in some cases to
re-initiate, the change process, and second, to evaluate the
qualitative and quantitative extended therapy services that best
fit the need of the child."
It appears that the
primary purpose of psychiatric care at the facility is the
prescribing and monitoring of the use of psychotropic drugs.
This is a serious concern. Please see our
for warnings and healthy alternatives to this type of treatment.
It is also a concern
that the focus is to change your child. The focus should
be on healthy communication and mutual respect being restored
between child and family members. Alternative purposes
that insist upon forced changes to personality and/or behavior
are violative of basic human and civil rights and ought to be
Parent Handbook (Page
"Routine counseling is provided for those residents where the
assessment shows that such interventions are part of the
comprehensive treatment plan."
offices are strategically located throughout the building,
encouraging spontaneous integration with the resident
population. The result is that the therapist has numerous
opportunities to interact with your child. All such
interaction has therapeutic value and is part and partial of the
individual and/or group therapy processes. Hence, if you
child is claming that she/he is "therapeutically deprived", it
is like that the child is attempting to manipulate you."
"Due to the short
length of stay, providing a formal, accredited educational
curriculum that offers credit is unrealistic."
"Yes, in the
event that the end of the block/semester is occurring at the
time of admission and the school district is willing to allow
A.I. to proctor exams."
purpose, the resident is part of a therapeutic community with
rules, expectations and consequences. These ruses are
based on safety and pro-social behavior."
Is regular counseling
typically included in Aspen's comprehensive treatment plans?
If not, why not? "Talk Therapy" is the best way to
understand what is going on with the individual and to help
overcome communication barriers that are effecting family
relationships. Why is this not a necessary component for
all children "treated" by Aspen?
There are quite a
few spelling errors in this section. Why is that?
And, do you think walking by someone's office is therapeutic?
Please take your child's reports of neglect and abuse seriously.
It could save both you and your child from much heartache and
expense. It is Aspen that is manipulating you, not your
According to Utah
law, programs that last more than one month are required to
provided accredited educational services. Why does Aspen
think they can ignore this law?
How often to
schools allow or deny Aspen the ability to proctor exams?
What reasons are given for denying Aspen the ability to proctor
therapeutic community setting is a "buzz word" for abusive,
confrontational "therapy". Aspen should be avoided.
HEAL does find the error in using the word "ruses" over "rules"
amusing as a "ruse" is a type of deception and that seems to be
the "rule" or guiding "principle" of Aspen programs.
Parent Handbook (Pages
12 & 13)
"Fist, we must insure
the safety of all residents and staff...Hence, tell your child
to cope the best he/she can under the circumstances."
participate in the administering of medication, medication
education, primary care issues and the implementation of the
"However, as the
diagnostic picture evolves, and more questions arise regarding
certain areas of physical, neurological, biological, emotional,
cognitive and/or psycho-social functioning, additional tests
and/or assessment procedures may be indicated...Additional
assessments are only administered with your permission."
associated for all optional test/assessments are billed on an
individual basis and are not included in the daily rate
course of the stay at the Institute, you will communicate with
the psychiatrist at least once...Depending on medication related
issues or other medical issues, the psychiatrist will
communicate with you as needed."
There seems to be quite
a few Freudian slips in this paperwork. Between "ruse" in
the last segment and "fist" in this one, HEAL wonders if Aspen
can keep a lid on their underlying agenda. If your child
is suffering from neglect or abuse, do not require they "cope"
alone and without investigation and/or intervention.
Children die in Aspen programs. Children have died at
Youthcare (an Aspen program in Utah), SageWalk, and others.
This is nothing to take lightly and any reports of neglect or
abuse should be dealt with proactively.
Who is doing the
diagnosing and what benefits are they likely to gain by stating
or diagnosing non-existent problems? Again, this appears
to be a very expensive referral service to other Aspen programs.
And, those other Aspen programs also appear to be deceptive and
As a consumer,
one would expect more communication between a treating
psychiatrist and the family over such a long stay (typically two
months). This is another concern given the frequency of
medicating of youth at this program.
Parent Handbook (Pages
"Visits should always be prearranged through the Primary
not bring food items to the resident."
will check the visitation log to make sure the visitor is on the
"All mail to the
resident is opened by the resident in the presence of a staff
member to insure that no contraband is passed on to the
facility. The staff member who observes the opening of
mail may not read the content of the mail unless invited by the
must be from a person on the approved communication form that
the parents fill out at admission. The mail will go
directly the resident. If the incoming mail happens to be
from someone not on the approved communication form, the mail
will first go directly to the therapist. If the therapist
deems the mail as inappropriate in anyway, that mail will be
forwarded to the parents at which time the parents may decide
what to do with it."
"Following a one
to two week observation period, phone calls between a resident
and parent may occur if deemed clinically appropriate."
"In the first two
weeks of their stay there will be no phone calls from the
resident to their parent/guardian. At the beginning of
week three a phone call may occur between the resident and
family if deemed clinically appropriate by the multidisciplinary
"If phone contact
results in significant upheaval, distraction, or regression on
the part of the resident or family, direct communication will be
discourage parents/guardians from bringing food to their child
at the Institute...It has been our experience that large care
packages can lead to bartering among residents. This
should be avoided."
"Hence, please do
not provide your child with personal spending money."
"The Institute is
licensed as a specialty psychiatric facility and therefore has
It is a concern that
there are not regular visiting hours and that all visits need to
be pre-approved. Even in psychiatric hospitals there are
normal visiting hours and families are welcome and permitted to
bring food or treats to their family members.
Given the nature
of the program, would a child be considered "withholding" if
they did not share a letter? What types of pressure is
used and how much authority is granted to staff? If a
child's letter is read without his/her permission, what are the
options for dealing with this issue? Will such reports be
written off as "manipulation"? These are all legitimate
The limitation of
access to a phone is also a serious concern. This is
compounded by the denial of phone calls until permitted by the
program. This is on our
warning signs list
for abusive facilities.
Show us the
license, Aspen. There is no record showing that Aspen
Institute for Behavioral Assessment has anything more than a
standard business license. It appears to only be licensed
as a foreign limited liability company. It is not licensed
by the Department of Human Services. And, in reviewing the
full list of licensed hospitals provided by Utah, it is not
there. So, please, show us the license or admit you are
not licensed as a psychiatric hospital in Utah. This
appears to be a private prison, not a therapeutic environment.
Parent Handbook (Pages
23 & 24)
"When residents are out
of bed they should be properly covered at all times as sleep
attire is not proper when in the hallway or when walking around
in the room."
"Hair will not
obscure eye contact."
are expected to be clean shaven."
"For this reason
all residents are expected to abide by the following Code of
Conduct, and will not engage in the following:...Threatening or
hurting oneself by self-mutilation, suicidal threat...Any form
of inappropriate boundaries, including petting, touching,
kissing, note writing, exhibitionism, or sexually offensive
"If you should
have any complaints or grievances that you would like to
address, please feel free to complete the grievance form and
hand in to any staff. This complaint will be reviewed by
the administrative team in an attempt to resolve the issue.
If this complaint can not be resolved in an appropriate you may
contact the CRC Corporate office...You may also contact the
Joint Commission...or Utah Dep't of Health at (801)538-6101."
During bedtime, if a
child needs to use the bathroom are they required to put on
day-clothes when moving from their bed to the bathroom? If
so, this is very unreasonable and disruptive of sleep.
what is a "punk" hairstyle? What if a student's religion
requires them to grow facial hair? What actions are taken
to insure compliance with these "rules"? Are children's
heads ever shaved as part of the "admission's process"/"intake"?
Does Aspen allow
hugging or comforting by one resident to another resident?
If not, why not? What constitutes exhibitionism for Aspen
in Utah? And, what does Aspen consider a sexually
offensive comment? At the recently closed Aspen program,
Mount Bachelor Academy in Oregon, girls were forced to do
lap-dances as therapy. Is it okay for Aspen to use
sexually offensive or exploitative methods for "therapeutic"
purposes? And, does the Institute allow for psychodrama
and/or confrontational "therapy" in which children are told to
verbally attack each other using offensive, and sometimes
sexually offensive language such as "druggie", "whore", "loser",
etc.? If so, what is the lesson imparted? Are
children learning that absolute authority means absence of
accountability and responsibility? This seems to be the
lesson taught at Aspen programs. And, it is not a healthy
or good lesson for anyone looking to be happily successful
and/or successfully happy.
you do not place your child in Aspen Institute for Behavioral
Staff List and