"What Happens in Group, Stays in Group"
By second phase, I was dedicated to the program and would not dare tell my parents anything because we were told that “what happens in group stays in group” and besides, if we were to complain to our parents, we were told that our parents would inform the program and we could be set back to first phase, which was truly a hell. Once I moved up in the phases, I “worked the program” and just focused on getting out. The more time I spent in the program, the more brainwashed I became and the more I believed that I was saving myself and the other kids. We were forced to confess to certain things during Open Meetings that were discussed in group which is why I find this rule to be a contradiction.
Another contradiction is that we were supposed to adhere to confidentiality so that we, as minors, would be protected from any bad views from the outside world and so we wouldn’t hurt our future by allowing potential employers or anyone associated with our social standing from knowing of the atrocities we had committed in “our past”. Once I was on my upper phases, I was encouraged to talk about all of the things I had “confessed to” in group, as long as I was in support of the program. Once I reached 5th phase I was encouraged to go on speaking engagements and “tell all” about how bad I was in my past, how bad drug addiction is, explain the disease concept and how the program saved my life. I believed all of this on my upper phases but none of it was true. The executive staff in the program didn’t seem to have much regard for my confidentiality as long as it was a benefit to their business. And much like a pet, I was rewarded in small ways for my loyalty. These small rewards in an environment where punishment is the norm seemed like a huge boost to my self esteem.
"No Talking Behind Backs"
This was a very big rule that was used as a communication control. We weren't allowed to speak of anyone who was not present. The explanation seemed to make sense, it was said that it kept everyone from gossiping and kept us honest. Unfortunately this rule was really used to keep communication to a minimum. We weren't allowed to talk about someone who had left the program either.
"Chain Of Command"
This was a façade of a complaint procedure. They called this “Chain of Command”. In reality, any complaints would be seen as a manipulation and I would be punished. It was ok to rat someone out or in rare situations where the information was beneficial to staff.
I was 16 when I went to work as a trainee on staff. I was not qualified to be a counselor but at the time I was convinced that having gone through the program was qualification enough. This was always the way the program kept outsiders on the outside. I was brainwashed and loyal to the program once I graduated.
"Claim or Blame"
Basically, if a kid did well shortly after leaving the program the executive staff were quick to take credit for this appearance of success. So you would think that they would take responsibility when a kid didn’t do well. This was not the case. If a kid had problems or deviated from the program ways, that kid was blamed by the program for “not working the program” and was consequently threatened with first phase or shunned outright. Parents almost always believed this illogical explanation but in my opinion, it shows just how corrupt and unfair this organization was.