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Information Standards

HEAL receives thousands of e-mails and phone calls every year.   Many questions and concerns raised are addressed throughout our website.  For convenience sake, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions with our responses below.  This is an "in-progress" list of questions and responses.  Please thoroughly review answers and links provided prior to contacting us for clarification or discussion. 


Is HEAL a biased network?


The general definition of bias is "prejudice".  Prejudice is defined as: "preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge". 

HEAL's opinions regarding the behavior modification industry are founded on our firsthand experiences with behavior modification programs.  HEAL shares court records, news reports, program material reviews, and firsthand reports from clients/survivors and their families regarding behavior modification programs. 

HEAL's Parent Support Network includes parents who rescued their children from behavior modification programs.  Mike and Carla Plotycia rescued their son from Cross Creek (WWASPS) in Utah.  Lisa Haas rescued her son from Cross Creek (WWASPS) in Utah.  Helen Taylor rescued her daughter from Provo Canyon School in Utah.   Catherine Smith rescued her daughter from Provo Canyon School in Utah.  And, our other parent volunteers rescued their children from programs such as Gatehouse Academy and Eagle Ranch Academy.

HEAL's Coordinators are mostly survivors of behavior modification programs.  If you click the link here or in the previous sentence you will learn more about our individual coordinators and the programs with which we have firsthand experience and knowledge.  Patrick Liberg is a survivor of Turning Winds.   Tim Brown is a survivor of CPH/NorthKey in Kentucky.  Angela Smith (daughter of Catherine, mentioned above) is a survivor of Provo Canyon School.  Ms. Smith graduated with honors from Highline Community College in 2000.  Ms. Smith graduated from the University of Washington in 2005 with a double major in philosophy and history.  Ms. Smith is currently on hiatus from law school, but, successfully passed the California State First Year Law Student's Exam ("Baby Bar") in 2009.  The HEAL Team invests a lot of time in research and our public information campaigns.  We believe the information we present is fact-based.  It is our opinion that fraud and abuse are wrong and opposed to sound public policy.  And, this opinion is voiced throughout our website.  However, we do not believe a reasonable person would determine that we are sharing an uninformed opinion regarding this industry.  And, therefore, we do not believe we are a biased or prejudiced network.


Is HEAL a Christian network?


The HEAL network is ecumenical and inclusive.  Our network includes polytheists, monotheists, agnostics, and atheists.  Our primary volunteers include members of the following faiths/beliefs: Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism, Taoism and/or Buddhism, and agnosticism.  HEAL respects all faiths that honor truth, beauty, creation, and love.  And, HEAL does not discriminate based on religion/faith/non-faith, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, skin pigmentation, eye pigmentation, or any other superficial standard.


Is HEAL a violent network?


HEAL does not endorse, encourage, nor participate in any violent or illegal activities.  HEAL is a non-violent, social action network of activists.  We oppose violent and illegal activity and that is why we believe that there should be a moratorium on behavior modification programs that engage in such activity.


Do you approve of any residential treatment programs/behavior modification programs?


HEAL is not a referral service.  HEAL reviews various programs upon individual, public, or program request.  Our resources are limited and these reviews take time.  If we receive a complaint or concern regarding an unknown (with which we are unfamiliar) program, we add it to our list.  Once we've completed our initial investigation, we provide more information or remove it from the list if there are no red flags or abuse records.

If parents/guardians are determined to institutionalize a family member/ward, we encourage them to do their own research.  In such a case, we recommend parents/guardians choose a facility that is within convenient driving distance for them and that they will commit to visit, at minimum, on a weekly basis.  We recommend parents actively participate in family therapy and work to keep the family together during times of struggle.  And, we advise that parents/guardians use our warning signs list with questions to ask to determine whether or not a program they are considering is legitimate or questionable and best to be avoided. 

In addition, HEAL provides dozens of program material reviews throughout our website.  These can also be used to compare/contrast with program information provided by programs families consider.  If there are many similar concerns raised by the considered program's materials, then such program is best to be avoided.

While we do not refer to nor recommend any individual programs, we believe we provide the information and tools necessary to make informed decisions for you and your family.


Why does HEAL believe residential programs are unacceptable?


The best answer to this question is our free ebook.  It is available at www.heal-online.org/ebook.pdf.  It explains in detail the concerns we have regarding these programs and their methods.  In addition, our society provides hospitals, jails, prisons, schools, out-patient services, detoxification/rehabilitation facilities, and religious services.  All of these services effectively address the needs/issues raised when families struggle.  In addition, the Congressional Hearings and Government Accountability Office investigation addressed the issues of deceptive marketing and fraud that are prevalent in this industry.  And, based on our research, we believe that the majority of programs marketed to parents/schools/courts to "help "troubled" teens" are deceptively marketed, fraudulent programs that do not provide the services claimed.  This is clearly evidenced throughout our website and we believe a thorough review of the information provided by HEAL will result in an informed, fact-based opinion likely in agreement with those shared by HEAL.  Below is our 5 point argument against institutionalizing children and youth: 


a.  Segregated care is unconstitutional and a civil rights violation.  It is only permissible if a person is unable to survive independent of an institutional environment.  For more on this, watch the HEAL Report at  https://youtu.be/C4NzhZc4P0A.  Or, see:   http://www.ada.gov/olmstead/  which includes in part:    "United States v. Florida – 1:12-cv-60460 – (S.D. Fla.) – On April 7, 2016, the United States filed an Opposition to the State of Florida’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.  In the Motion, the State had asked the Court to rule, on a variety of grounds, that the United States could not recover damages for unnecessarily institutionalized children to whom the State had been deliberately indifferent."


b.  Institutionalization is always dehumanizing and coercive.  Institutionalization always harms the institutionalized and deprives them of protected civil rights.  Dr. David Straker, Psychiatry Professor at Columbia University's School of Medicine (Ivy League) explains this in detail at http://changingminds.org/disciplines/sociology/articles/institutionalization.htm.  "Many institutions, from prisons to monasteries to asylums, deliberately want to control and manage their inmates such that they conform and do not cause problems. Even in less harsh environments, many of the institutionalization methods may be found, albeit in more moderated form (although the psychological effect can be equally devastating)."  (See website linked in this paragraph for more info.)


c.  Institutionalization is not in the best interest of children.  Institutions are not ever better for a child than living with a loving family.  Source:   http://www.unicef.org/cambodia/12681_23295.html       


d.  Reform schools, residential treatment programs, and other segregated congregate care settings have been shown to be ineffective and harmful.  Best source on this currently is:     https://www.acgov.org/probation/documents/EndoftheReformSchoolbyVinny.doc


e. Boarding Schools, even the "good ones", result in a form of social death, isolation, and cause both anxiety and depression.  Therefore, it is clearly not in the best interest of the youth subjected to those environments.  Sources: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/08/boarding-school-syndrome-joy-schaverien-review and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/secondaryeducation/11662001/The-truth-about-boarding-school-syndrome.html


What do you recommend as an alternative to residential treatment/institutionalization?


HEAL is not convinced that the solution to family problems is to use a child as a scapegoat and send them out of state to live with strangers in a lockdown environment without access to communicate with home or the authorities in the event of emergency.  We provide a parenting guide at www.heal-online.org/parent.htm to assist families in considering alternatives to residential treatment.  Please review the parenting guide linked above for our recommendations.  The parenting guide addresses issues commonly raised by "professionals" and families/individuals seeking help.


Do you work with other organizations, if so which ones?


HEAL supports other activist and public advocacy organizations.  Here is a brief list of some of the websites and advocacy organizations we currently support:

The Straights

 FORNITS web-forum

  Surviving Straight Inc.

   FICA Network

 Teen Advocates USA

 Michelle Sutton Memorial

However, we are skeptical because a few "advocacy" organizations are actually fronts for the troubled teen industry and distractions from legitimate advocacy work.  HEAL does not support PURE (Parent Universal Resource Experts) nor similar organizations.  As stated above, HEAL does not refer to programs and we are opposed to institutionalization.


What actions have been taken by the behavior modification industry (and their partners) to attempt to discredit HEAL?


Individuals have posted fake posts as HEAL representatives on various online forums, blogs, and message boards.  We choose not to link to those here.  But, you may e-mail us if you want to see those pages.  As a result of the baseless attacks against HEAL on reddit.com, Angela Smith has deleted her reddit.com account (AngelaHEALHQ).  If there are any new posts on reddit.com claiming to be made by Angela Smith of HEAL, those are fake posts.  Please report them if you happen to spend time there.  We would recommend against wasting your time with that though.  There is real work to be done.

There are at least two known anti-HEAL websites.  One of the sites is confirmedly owned by Eagle Ranch Academy.  For more information, visit www.heal-online.org/healsuit.htm.

In addition, HEAL has received spoofed messages and other forms of online and telephone harassment.  And, of course, there is the lawsuit UHS of Provo Canyon (Provo Canyon School) has filed against HEAL.  But, we are confident the court will find in our favor.  We are always willing to answer any legitimate inquiries.  Please see www.heal-online.org/requests.htm for more information.


Will HEAL engage in a public debate regarding any and/or all issues and/or positions included as part of HEAL's campaigns and agenda?


HEAL is willing to engage in public debate regarding any of our positions and in regards to any of our campaigns.  Legitimate requests for debate will need to be submitted in writing to: HEAL, 126 SW 148th St., Ste C100-422, Seattle, WA 98166-1984.  And, conditions for debate include:

1.  Mutually agreed upon time, date, and place of the debate.

2.  Mutually agreed upon moderator.  (Accepted moderators include, but, are not limited to: Lee Camp, Thom Hartmann, Amy Goodman, Art Levine, and Chris Hedges.)

3.  Mutually agreed upon debate subject and questions. 

In addition, HEAL reserves the right to choose the most appropriate representative and/or volunteer to participate in the debate and this may or may not be a HEAL Coordinator.  This will depend upon the subject of the debate and the availability of HEAL representatives.

As always, HEAL is willing to answer any legitimate questions posed and we look forward to hearing from you.


What are HEAL's official policies?


HEAL's Official Policies are included in part in answers to the FAQs above.  To see a complete list of our Official Policies, click here.


How do I report offensive or inaccurate content found on HEAL's website, HEAL's Facebook, or authored by someone believed to be a HEAL representative? 


HEAL does not censor victims of institutional abuse.  We believe that an individual who has been tortured or held in a prison camp environment has the right to use profanity in sharing their experiences.  We would no more censor a survivor of institutional abuse than a veteran of foreign wars.  


As stated above and in our Information Standards, HEAL stands by everything on our website and we do our best to ensure that all the information we share is verified and accurate.  We also acknowledge that we are fallible and that corrections or editing may be necessary from time to time.  We also acknowledge that from time to time our site has been hacked and edited without our knowledge or consent.  In those few, if any, circumstances where correction is needed, we provide a means for requesting review and resolution.  


If you are a representative of a behavior modification program or program supporter, please see www.heal-online.org/requests.htm for directions on submitting requests for review, editing, or removal of information from our website.  If you are not a representative of a behavior modification program nor a program supporter, please e-mail us at info@heal-online.org, provide the link to the alleged offending or inaccurate content/comment (provide evidence if reporting an inaccuracy), and provide the exact quote/comment at issue.  HEAL will respond to all reasonable requests and take any necessary actions to address the issue.


Is HEAL an active organization that still exists?


Yes, and we believe those that are asking this question are being told by the segregated congregate care industry (particularly behavior modification programs) that we are inactive, dormant, or otherwise don't exist.  When UHS sued us, they said our co-founders were using pseudonyms and did not really exist.  That was a lie.  Any statement you hear that HEAL is no longer active or that it has ceased to exist is a lie.  And, we recommend anyone who was told this lie by a program understand that it is likely not the only lie the program has told them.  


Why is some of the information on the website so "outdated"


This appears to be a fair question on its face.  But, the reality is that HEAL has thousands of pages to manage and we do update our site daily.  It is true not every page is updated every day, but, we do our best with our limited resources to make sure the information is accurate and up-to-date.  In addition, programs on our watch-list tend to make excuses and claim to be "different or improved" when in actuality they are not.  So, if we haven't updated the staff and information page for a specific program on our watch-list for a year or two, the industry claims the information is outdated and that they are a "new and improved" program that has taken care of any complaints.  The reality is that that is just a sales ploy to get naive people who really want to send their kids away to ignore the red flags, alarm bells, and gut feelings they feel about the program and ignore the facts.  But, we ask parents whether they would leave their child with a child rapist who had been released from prison and who hadn't been accused of raping a child in 2 years.  If you would not hire a babysitter with a history of child abuse and child rape, why would you pay a program to hold your child incommunicado for months or years with the same track record?  Common sense and logic dictate that even when complaints are months or a couple of years old, they are still valid and provide a warning to others.   

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