Treatment Abuse, Behavior Modification, Thought Reform > Teen Challenge

A Few Websites To Read Other's Thoughts on Teen Challenge

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Hey Ginger - give Fido a pat and a scratch for me ;)

Thought this might add some levity to the discussion

A Dog Joke

A Baptist preacher and his wife decided to get a dog. Ever mindful of the congregation, they knew that the dog must be a Baptist.

They visited kennel after kennel and explained their needs. No dog seemd to qualify. Finally, they found a kennel whose owner assured them he had just the dog they wanted.

The owner brought the dog to meet the pastor and his wife.

"Fetch the Bible," he commanded.

The dog bounded to the bookshelf, scrutinized the books, located the Bible, and brought it to the owner.

"Now find Psalm 23," he commanded.

The dog dropped the Bible to the floor, and showing marvellous dexterity with his nose, leafed through and finding the correct passage, pointed to it with his paw.

The pastor and his wife were very impressed and purchased the dog.

That evening, a group of church members came to visit. The pastor and his wife began to show off the dog, having him locate several Bible verses...

The visitors were very impressed.

One man asked, "Dose he do regular dog tricks, too?"

"I haven't tried yet" the pastor replied.

Pointing his finger at the dog "HEEL," the pastor commanded.

The dog  jumped on a chair, placed one paw on the pastor's forehead and began to howl.

The good pastor, looking shocked, then exclaimed,  "Good Lord! He's Pentecostal!"


Firebird - I do think you'd understand better where the people here are coming from. if you would do some reading into the history of substance abuse  programs; and the very serious and consistent reports of abuse that arise from these places.

I am sure you are puzzled by TC being suspected of cultic behavior - but if you had a wider frame of reference I think you would understand. You might not agree that TC dose behave like a cult - but you'd have to admit many "Christian" groups do; and most of the involentary substance abuse programs meet the qualifications of being a cult.

Here is a link to a Teen Challenge FAQ available on the website of the Rehresburg, Pennsylvania facility. Rehresberg is the central TC facility in the country. It is where most people on the east coast will probably find themselves for the phase 3 of the Teen Challenge program. It answers someof the questions some of you have. ... tm#Scene_1

Buzzkill, I understand where you're coming from. In fact, I can't say I've seen anything in any of your posts I would disagree with. See, I believe that some of the ones here who would call TC a cult use the synanon model as a comparison and in their minds they read everything I write with that preconception in mind.

When I was trying to decide what program was best for me, I was seeking advice from my parole officer. He was a big fan of the Phoenix House--which is a Synanon based program. In fact Phoenix House had come to interview me over a year before when I was facing my third state prison sentence and was hoping to get in a program ( of course, the state parole board ruled that out in very heated morrissey hearing).

I already knew Phoenix House's reputation as a tough, hardcore program, but the interviewer wanted to talk about beach trips( later I learned that they get everyone excited for these trips, then cancel at the last minute as some attempt to help them deal with disappointment, bure bs i fyou ask me), their vocational programs--decent careers actually, like offset printing, and the assurance that they wouldn't fail me because they would require me to have my own apartment for a year, be fully employed and have at least $2000 in the bank before I graduated. No mention at all of the hot seat sessions, the degradation techniques meant to break you, like forcing a disobedient student to wear a toilet seat around there head. No mention at all of the first 90 days of the Phoenix House model.

My parole officer, however, had sat on their board before and was a strong advocate. He explained to me the model--the first 90 days was dedicated to completely breaking you down and the following 21 months was dedicated to rebuilding you into a typical briefcase carrying robot model. I interviewed with Phoenix House in Santa Ana and told them about my jail interview. This interview was quite different---The lady would calmly ask me a question about my drug history and every answer I gave would be met with her yelling at me " what's wrong with you" or "when will you learn". She was basically gauging my reactions. My parole officer had told me of this stuff, so I tried my best to answer as humbly as possible and to express my desperation---and I was desperate. I had spent my life abusing every drug imaginable and had become a hype shooting meth in my veins and my mind had long succumbed to speed psychosis. I was very scared that I had gone too far and that my mind may not make it back this time. I was in a very vulnerable state and Phoenix House had the reputation for being extremely successful for those who actually finish it. I was also uneasy by a program that I felt would try to rob me of my identity. I also worried that I wouldn't be able to make it thru that first 90 days without stringing a staffmember up by their nuts--I was an ex-con who had committed all sorts of violence and had a fairly uncontrollable temper.

The tale of how I found out about Teen Challenge was quite interesting and would amaze most Christians at God's power, but the average person here would doubt it, call me a liar and laugh. But let me just leave it with this--there was about a 30 day period where it seemed there was a conspiracy coming at me from all different angles pointing me toward Teen Challenge. So while I was waiting for Phoenix House to call back, I went to a Turning Point meeting, This is where TC usually conducts interviews.

 I sat thru a Bible study and was pretty impressed with this guy conducting it. He was just this friendly guy who told us about how God had changed him from his former life of addiction. Afterwards I asked to be interviewed and he explained ot me what Teen Challenge was about. He pulled no punches on what they expected and gave me an application as well as a full physical form to be signed by a doctor before I could be admitted. To make a long story short I chose Teen Challenge.

My experience at Teen Challenge was nothing like what the Phoenix House would have been. There was no tearing me down model and rebuilding me. There was no group therapy session where everyone would tear into me. Counselling was one on one and only used to gauge my progress and help me thru any struggles I was having ( at my request). This progam was not centered around a model of counselling. From the get-go it was about Discipleship in the Christian faith. Picture daily Sunday School and you'll get the idea.

Staff members eschewed the role model philosophy of Synanon as well, telling the students not to follow them, but to follow God, because they would most assuredly let you down. This was a very common TC theme thruout Teen Challenge. Oh I came across staff members and especially interns who were hot-headed. Never once did I ever in over 7 years involvement see a staffmember threaten violence or act in a threatening manner to a student, tho. That is grounds for dismissal and in another discussion i asked Michael Kincheloe aboout some of the charges he made regarding that and whether or not he reported the staffmember for threatening him and he refused to answer the question--puzzling since every student in TC knows that such behaior by staff is unacceptable.

Teen Challenge did not try to turn me into a robot like Phoenix House felt like it would. Teen Challenge did not degrade or use any abusive techniques to rehabilitate me. As someone who went thru extensive staff training and served as staff for 5 years, I can tell you that kind of stuff is strictly frowned on. Teen Challenge did not self-aggrandize, there were no instances i nall of my years with TC where they tried to convince people that TC was the only chance they had--TC instead puts that responsibility on God's shoulders. TC does not encourage people to stay indefinitely and join their communal fellowship. They encourage people to get out of the progam and get involve din theor local churches and live productive lives. There is a big focus on following God's call on your life, but they do not attempt to tell you what God is calling you to do. They leave that between you and God. Their concern is simply that you follow His desire for your life.

Firebird-  Maybe you have had certain experiences like you say, but the fact of the matter is that there are ALOT of people out there who have had some VERY bad experiences at Teen Challenge!  That is why I have started the Investigating Teen Challenge website.  

It is also a FACT that the VERY high drop-out rate for Teen Challenge is tremendous and it is ALSO a FACT that Teen Challenge is bragging about statistics that are from 1975, which was 32 years ago!  Those statistics were done on Teen Challenge graduates from 1968, which was  39 years ago!!!  Out of those 186 people, a total of 143 people dropped out of the Teen Challenge program!!!  Read:  http://

Another problem (which is just one of the MANY problems that I have with Teen Challenge) is that each and every person who is an advocate for Teen Challenge (including each and every single Teen Challenge website) gives me the exact same biased information/story.  You all seem to be identical clones of one another and that not only creeps me out but it also spooks the heck out of ALOT of people!  Maybe you can't see that you do that, but everyone who has been reading your posts can see that!  And, I will be the first to say- I feel sorry for you!  Hopefully someday you will be able to step back and realize that all is not what it appears in the Teen Challenge world!

Michael Kincheloe:
They all follow the same talking points. Mr. Dau is no exception.

In the February 14, 2005 issue of Dissident Voice, journalist Amy Sullivan wrote in "Faith, Fabrications, and Fantasy" that "Teen Challenge's much ballyhooed 86 percent rehabilitation rate falls apart under examination -- the number doesn't include those who dropped out of Teen Challenge and relies on a disturbingly small sample of those graduates who self-reported whether they had remained sober, significantly tilting the results."

Who is Mr. Dau?


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