Former Pathway Michigan Nurse
Pathway Family Center, Michigan
Employed from 1-2007 to 3-2008
I am a former employee of PFC. I was not shocked or surprised to hear that certain PFC's had recently closed. It is a blessing beyond measure to know that troubled teens and their families are no longer being tormented by PFC, it's system, and staff.
When I first started working for PFC, I had no idea of it's history. I thought that it was just another drug rehabilitation center. I was proud and happy to know that I was having a part in helping a teenager get off of drugs and help their families reconcile. Well that feeling didn't last very long. Over the course of time I began to realize that there were things going on that I knew as a professional shouldn't be.
It's never easy being a teenager. And saying it's difficult being a teenager in these days and times is an understatement. All a teenager ever really wants I believe is acceptance, whatever the case may be. If someone smokes a joint for the first time, does that automatically make them a drug addict? No. Does drinking one beer make someone an alcoholic? No. I've seen several teenagers brought into PFC's because parents freaked out over finding weed or alcohol in the possession of their teens. Obviously that is something to be concerned about. But being the way that parents usually are, little listening goes on with their teenager. The automatic assumption is that their teen is a drug addict or an alcoholic. And just as soon as that teenager crosses over the threshold of a PFC, it's all over. The brainwashing begins. I know of several teenagers admitted to having smoked only one joint or drank only one beer. But staff at PFC began drilling it into their head immediately that the teenager was a dope head and major addict, when in reality such was not the case. As a professional on staff, I would have to sit and listen to the drilling by staff members into the heads of these teenagers that they were addicts and alcoholics and would be for the rest of their lives. Being literally forced to have to admit something that wasn't necessarily true. And if he/she didn't admit it, there would be no going to the next level. And having to do this in front of other teenagers. If I felt bad having to listen to the drilling and the brainwashing knowing that I could just walk out of the room, I can't imagine what they were feeling at the time.
Taking a teenager totally away from his/her family and siblings and not allowing any contact whatsoever for any significant amount of time is harmful to say the least. Even people in jail have visitation rights. Not so at PFC. The rationale was that the teen needs to be taken away from the home environment so the "healing" can begin. But what I could never understand is this. . .let's say I am a parent of a "troubled" teen and you are a parent of a "troubled" teen. Obviously both parents are having concerns of drugs and alcohol in their homes and the effects of it on their immediate families. How is me taking your troubled teen into my home and you taking my troubled teen in your home going to help matters any (host homes)? The teenager is just going from one troubled home to the next. Where's the healing in all this?
The idea of a teenager having absolutely zero privacy is unhealthy to say the least. The teens while at PFC facilities had to walk in straight lines to and from the bathroom all the while being told to stare at the floor and not to have any eye contact with anyone. Five and six teens in the bathroom at the same time with only two stalls to use. And a staff member always present. Not even having the privacy to make a bowel movement!?
PFC teens always had to sit in hard chairs for hours on end with little relief. PFC teens had to eat while sitting in the same chairs. Tables were provided by parents and organizations for the use of many things, but eating at them was not one of them. These teens had to lay their food on the floor in from of them and eat from their lap, all the while staring at tables that they could not eat from.
One of many things I found troubling was that PFC stated that it had qualified staff to treat these troubled teens. When in reality, most of the time the teens in PFC were in the presence of "peer staff", these being those that were either graduates of PFC or college students doing an intern project. These were the ones that interacted with the teens at PFC 90% of the time. As a professional myself, I hardly think that a graduate of the program with 0% professional training or a college student with little to no experience/training/certification doing an internship on psychology fits the picture of qualified staff. Parents were/are being charged for qualified staff. Needs to be checked into.
Since I'm on a roll here. . .let's talk about medication. What a mess! How is it that a teenager is brought into PFC with the "diagnosis" of drug addiction, that client is "detoxed" (which is a crock of crap because there is no 'detoxing' at PFC), then turn right around and is prescribed almost a half dozen medications, either for anxiety, panic, depression, etc? But wasn't taking any of these medications at the time of admission. Is/was PFC helping the addiction problem or just feeding it to get the money from parents insurance companies? I personally know of several clients taking almost a dozen pills a day. . .drug addiction. . .let's give them more. . .
There are many other issues that I have as far as PFC goes. But we'll start with this. Am I alone in the experiences or are their others out there like myself?