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HEAL is an egalitarian network of activists self-empowered to plan events, create change, and make the world a better place for all life.  Our goals include the liberation of humans, nonhuman animals, and the earth!  We work in cooperation with like-minded organizations that put compassion in action!

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Warning!  Do not place your child in any facility that denies you one on one contact with your child AT ANY TIME.  Warning!  Do not place your child in any facility that requires a liability waiver for any harm caused to your child.  Warning!  Do not place your child in any facility that denies them access to a telephone.  Warning!  Do not place your child in any facility that uses confrontational "therapy"!  Warning!  Do not place your child in any facility where their phone calls with you are monitored.  Warning!  Do not place your child in any facility that expects total and unquestioned support of parents.



Alert !  Former Pathway Family Center executive staff members: Victoria Winebarger and Beth Bunn have started a business called Branches Counseling, PLLC. Beware of Branches Counseling, PLLC! This "counseling service" could evolve into the next generation Pathway program. Given the history of Pathway's cultish methods, the devotion by these two women to the Pathway program in the past and the lack of information on their own website about their previous employment by Pathway, attention should be drawn to this new enterprise.

indianapolis, in (definitely closed!!!!)



HEAL Announces--Pathway Family Center is CLOSED!!!! HEAL Announces--Pathway Family Center is CLOSED!!!!


(porter county, indiana, Michigan and ohio locations have closed!)


(Videos from February 5th & 6th, 2009)


Also See:

Father: Son mistreated at rehab center

More Problems at Pathway Article

Latest News--Kids Helping Kids and PFC Michigan Closed!, and

Read the History and Connections of The Seed, Straight, Inc., and Pathway Family Center

KHK, PFC, Straight, and Straight Spin-Off Program Survivor Message Forum

Pathway Family Center in Portage, IN NOW CLOSED!

Kids Helping Kids Is Reportedly CLOSED!!!


Pathway Family Center/Kids Helping Kids is a continuation of Straight Inc.  Straight Inc. was "shut down" due to abuses ranging from psychological torture, physical abuse, to rape.  Please read, "Help At Any Cost" by Maia Szalavitz for detailed information on the torture of children at Straight, Inc. and it's spin-offs.

"Straight" from the proverbial horse's mouth.  "There are a group of people out there who are convinced we are Straight incarnate," Nissley said, referring to ISAC. "They're a bunch of wackos who want to legalize drugs."  Yet Nissley's own story of Pathway's inception points directly back to Straight. Nissley's daughter Jenni went through a program in Plymouth, Mich., that closed amid money problems the night that Jenni graduated. Nissley and some of the parents resolved to create a program for 13 other children still in treatment, Nissley told the Detroit Free Press in 2002.  "Out of appreciation for what the program had done for us, we started Pathway Family Center in Southfield (Mich.) in 1993," she said in the Free Press article.  What program was that?  "Straight," Nissley told The Times."

HEAL does not endorse the use of psychotropic drugs, be they prescription or illegal narcotics.  Persons such as Ms. Nissley use the "war on drugs" as a cover for their continued torture of children.  Such statements are a "red herring" and should be ignored by a thinking and informed public.  Please educate yourself on the torture of children in this industry and programs such as "Pathway Family Centers".  You will find that behind the veil of "anti-drug" fear mongering is a beast of behavior modification torturing children, ruining lives, and destroying families.


(Video from February 13th, 2009)

For staff and background information, click here.

family statement

by leslie orihel





            I, Leslie Orihel, declare and state as follows:

1.   Pathway Family Center

2.   Southfield, Michigan, USA

3.   August 2000- July 2002

4.   My identical twin sister, a 2002 graduate of Pathway's program, committed suicide in August 2008 at 23 years old.  I am not attempting to draw an exact correlation between her death and her experience at Pathway, nor do I have the ability to judge for those who will attest to Pathway’s effectiveness in positively changing their lives.  I can only attest on behalf of my sister, that the program can be a harmful and traumatic experience for some, effectively and negatively changing their lives too.

  Last year, in January 2007, a magazine called, "The Sun," printed an interview with Maia Szalavitz, titled "The Myth of Tough Love," on her book published in '06, " Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids ."  In the interview Ms Szalavitz argues that " 'Adolescence strikes fear in the hearts of even the best parents,' and that fear drives well-meaning mothers and fathers to send their misbehaving teens to 'tough-love' programs, where they're subjected to abusive treatment in the name of helping them."  (I won't detail the article, though I highly recommend an excerpt which can be found at the following link: )

  I want to share with you a response to this article written by my sister and included in the following issue of The Sun's correspondence:


Dear Sun,


            My feeling was one of overwhelming gratitude when I read Marc Polonsky's interview with Maia Szalavitz, "The Myth of Tough Love," and his personal memoir, "The Seed."  I left Pathway Family Center (an adolescent "treatment" center that is a branch off of the Straight program) in 2002, and in the intervening years, two of my fellow "pathlings" have since committed suicide; another was rescued minutes after an attempt; many others, like myself, have struggled to maintain stability or a sense of hope in our early adulthood.  My experience with these programs has shown that addiction ceases to be the central problem  for clients when the counselors and environment create a more complete sense of powerlessness than any drug ever could.  Psychological defeat from any source is destructive, and love, not misunderstanding, is the true foundation for people to construct a meaningful life.  My relationship with The Sun gave these articles more credibility than if I had written them myself.  Thank you.


Alicia Orihel


  Considering my sister's own death adds a new significance to her words.  I believe the qualities that made Alicia so wonderful, her creativity, sensitivity, compassion, wit and insight, made her a poor candidate for a program that takes such dead aim upon the adolescent's ego.  They break teens down (in the name of re-building a healthier individual) at a time when they are so fragile, especially when you consider the self-esteem issues that have already driven them to self-medicating and destructive behaviors.  The irony is that the teens most vulnerable are likely the ones experiencing a greater severity of problems.  However, my sister strongly believed that these problems would only re-emerge after the Pathway experience.  Alicia’s own post-Pathway experience shows this to be true.  I came to understand that the psychological imprint of Pathway would never fade, as Alicia described Pathway-nightmares that continued to haunt her years after she had left.

  I do not agree with Pathway's ideology or methods, as a family witness and as the twin of someone who "survived" the program.  I strongly question their projected "success rates" and I hope for an increased awareness among the parents who are put in the sad position of deciding on a rehabilitation program for their teen.  I believe Szalavitz's book, "Recovery Options: The Complete Guide: How You and Your Loved Ones Can Understand and Treat Alcohol and Other Drug Problems" (2001), co-authored with Dr. Joseph Volpicelli, M.D., Ph.D. can help along with greater disclosure of the truth on 'tough-love' type programs by those who have oversight, investigate, and especially from those with a personal experience. 

  As a newly graduated nurse (RN, BSN), I believe that if the programs continue to exist, there are fundamental changes that should occur.  Severed communication from family, social isolation, lack of exercise and “outdoors” exposure, degradation from peers and staff, and treating any privacy as a privilege (i.e. not able to use the bathroom alone, going through journals to black-out lines deemed “inappropriate”), are just some of the practices that seriously cross ethical standards.  Care-providers (though many staff are unlicensed, often former-clients) can take greater consideration of the individual's involvement in their care, promoting autonomy and self-esteem rather than offering it in a damaging reward-punishment manner.  They can also do more extensive screening for teens whose psychological make-up is particularly vulnerable, recommending alternatives rather than compounding the problem.  The question is, are they willing to put the health of their clients before the self-interest of their institution?


            I give HEAL permission to use this statement.  I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.  Executed on November 10, 2008.




                                                                        Leslie Orihel








                           I, Anthony Connelly, declare and state as follows:

                          1. Kids Helping Kids

                          2. Hebron, Kentucky

                          3. August 1986 to May 1988


My parents placed me in a program called Kids Helping Kids at age 14 due to turmoil within our family. I was interrogated and strip searched with an orifice examination upon my intake. I was restrained physically during my intake with unreasonable force. I was informed that I was a drug addict without any diagnosis whatsoever and treated for a drug addiction that I never had for almost 2 years.


I had no rights to privacy, especially while using the toilet or showering. I had no communication with the outside world including family, attorneys, police, doctors, psychologists, friends, et cetera. No mail or telephone use was permitted. There were rules called confidentiality and no talking behind backs. These were rules of secrecy used to  control all communication and to hide abuses.


I had no exposure to the outside world including reading, television, radio, newspapers or sunlight. I received from 3 to 6 hours of sleep per night over the course of almost 2 years. I received 2 small meals a day at the program building. We were supposed to receive more food but we usually didn’t get any. We sat on hard wooden benches for 12 hours every day, sometimes longer.


I was physically restrained dozens of times by other kids at the instruction of staff. I believe I could have easily been killed. Restraint was used primarily as a punishment. I was placed in "timeout" rooms (solitary confinement). These rooms were 4 ft. by 6 ft. and were about 15 ft. high with a steel door and the floor was concrete. It was very cold in these rooms.


I was verbally assaulted and humiliated as a part of therapy every day. I was forced to lie about my past and had to make up stories about crimes, drug use and sex acts to progress to avoid being set back, verbally assaulted or restrained. I was not permitted to look at or talk to the opposite sex or talk without permission. We were to ask permission to do anything including use toilet paper. Any request could be denied.


I was forced to sing children’s songs all day in between raps and meals as a means of torment. I was forced to wave and flap my arms ferociously to show my desire to get off drugs. I was held down on the floor and my hair was cut off against my will. After 3 months I carved tracks of skin from my arms and after 4 months I attempted suicide due to failed escape attempts.


The complaint procedure was used to inform staff of minor rule infractions made by other kids. Sometimes we would lie using this system to progress. No reasonable complaint would be addressed including medical concerns.


I was brainwashed after 4 months. This was the most horrifying aspect and most damaging process I experienced in the program. I was psychologically broken and subsequently brainwashed. I had several nervous breakdowns which led to my brainwashed state. I had hallucinations and didn’t know who I was anymore. Any suggestions by peers or staff became past thoughts and were incorporated into my memory as realities. Once brainwashed, I no longer had my identity, thoughts and was not in control of my actions. I think it is important to mention that the beginning of my time in the program is where the emotional trauma and psychological damage was inflicted at its utmost.


The constant torment I endured at Kids Helping Kids was a mixture of torture, brainwashing, abuse and human rights violations. The tremendous psychological damage I incurred as a result has been a large detriment in my ability to live a healthy life. It is my hope that no other child be brainwashed and abused in the name of treatment or for any other reason.


I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on

October 31, 2007.

Anthony Connelly

If you would like to submit a statement about Pathway Family Center and/or Kids Helping Kids, click here.

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