Momentum Education
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: August 22, 2007 10:01PM


Seems like you are here to defend LGATs.

And the way you have noted the 13 liabilities cited by psychologist Philip Cushman demonstrates this.

Moreover, when you get to the "danger signs" and "thought reform"; it comes through strongly that you are here as an apologist and believe your subjective experience and anecdotal story somehow changes the facts, i.e. that there are many complaints about Momentum consistent with the warning signs and thought reform examples.

For example "training" as cited by Cushman, is not applicable to LGATs training their people about their seminar structure, philosophy, etc. This refers instead to the training received by a licensed mental health professional, e.g. a clinical psychologist or licensed marriage and family therapist.

What LGATs typically offer is essentially an evangelical form of mass marathon training to instill their idiosyncratic philosophy.

You also seem to imply that the victims of LGATs are somehow to blame for their own injuries, because of their personal background, emotional state, personality, etc.

Please understand that many complaints about Momentum directly contradict the opinions you have expressed.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/05/2010 11:53PM by rrmoderator.

Momentum Education Is a Cult!
Posted by: Lexy978 ()
Date: October 24, 2008 05:13AM

I am still suffering from the emotional and psychological abuse I put up with at the momentum education course. A friend recommended the course so I assumed it was safe.
The first course, called The Basic, is a simple motivational course and tricks you into thinking that the following courses are just as inspiring. So I was eager to sign up for the next course.
The next course to enroll in is called the advanced course. This is were they start to emotionally belittle you, verbally abuse you and use brainwashing techniques. They do it so slightly at first it is hard to notice. They use mediation and slight food depravation (long hours) to put you in somewhat of a vulnerable state. You feel emotionally battered, but every one in the group convinces you that it was just some "tough love." I almost walked out the door a couple of times but was told I was loved, and would disappoint my group if I left and the most famous momentum manipulative quote of all: "Is this how yr being in yr life?" I was trying so hard to believe that my "friends" were out for my best interest. I started to believe that it was true, that it was just tough love or a kick in the a**. Everyone was so loving in the beginning and I was so happy at first. I eventually signed up for the Leadership Course and oh man was it traumatic. Every time we met we had to share our week to the staff, no questions about it. They would verbally abuse you in front of the class about how yr not living up to yr standards even if you wr trying yr hardest. You are consistently called an "a-hole". I was so scared I was shaking each week. They used very positive ideas in a very negative manipulative way. For example; writing a plan to improve in yr life and living up to it by the time the course ends, sounds great right? Well they would have great volunteer ideas like helping the poor- but regardless of whether or not you wr mother teresa- if you did not RECRuit alot of people- you would get screamed at and humiliated.
There was one assignment were they had me stand on a chair they all turned off the light and voted if they thought I was a leader or not. A leader to them is actually the opposite, it means following there rules, using there lango, recruiting people and giving them money. I was terrified to quit! I felt almost as if the place was mentally sadistic and I was afraid of what they would do to me. I eventually quit and had to turn my phone of for weeks due to there harassment.
It is one thing to be emotionally abused by one person, but by over 30? I still have nightmares.

Momentum is no different from lifespring, landmark or those other commercial, psychological cults. Don't join and get the word out there.

Re: Momentum Education
Posted by: Javelin ()
Date: December 11, 2008 01:18PM

Momentum Education is based in NYC.

Reading *all* the different points on this blog, I see where I could agree with each of them.

I have completed the Basic and the Advanced, and am considering the Leadership Program to begin shortly.


I cannot think of anyone in my life who would not benefit from the Basic. In Basic, I found a vehicle to release long-held emotions that were just stuck. It is true, though, that some of the exercises I simply would NOT do in the way that they present them. I certainly would DO them, but differently (as example, not having people talk or scream over each other, which is a deliberate technique but really gets in the way of itself). Basic brought me to tears, understanding, and healing--not because anyone yelled at me, but because it was a safe environment where I could let my guard down.

The leader we had was, in fact, the mother I really could have used growing up: living compassion, wisdom, strength, and yes--that fabulous phrase--tough love. I am grateful people like her exist on the earth. Just wonderful.

The Advanced...well, wow. A very different leader: dedicated, and really tough love. The reason "tough love" "hurts" is, in my opinion, because...well, because IT LANDS. When someone coaches me in ways I do not see myself to be, then the words roll off me. However, having spent much of my life in victim mode, the coaching really landed for me. Not just landed--the Advanced program really slammed the nature of my life issue into my mind. I knew I was not moving forward in my life, but did not understand why. I got that understanding in the Advanced.

There were breaks, both for food and for bathroom. The secret was to have a bag full of snacks and quick-meal foods, and - duh! - to remember to use the bathroom during the free time available. No break was less than 15 minutes, and the longest stretch we went without a break was maybe three hours. Each day had at least one 30 minute break and one 90 minute break. Controlled? Yes. Impossible? Hardly. Others in the room did not know it, but mine was probably the smallest bladder in the room, yet I had no problem following their schedule.

11 am to 11 pm for five days IS a tough schedule. But given the life I've lived, the five days were just enough for me to understand what Momentum (previously Landmark or another derivative) was attempting to contribute to me: To assist me in identifying the areas / behaviors / attitudes / practices of my life that are stopping me, holding me back from a full, involved life in the world...a much larger life than the one I have been living. To be responsible for my life, grateful for it, and to live my power in the world. Not a light task to bring another human being to such awareness. And a room of more than 25 equally stuck people? The leader worked very hard.

The Basic is for almost everyone. The Advanced is NOT for the timid.

I am of a mind to sign up for Leadership. My reservation is twofold: (1) Do I really want to be called to responsibility for my commitments for the next 90 days, or would I rather crawl back into my comfort zone and lead an unchallenged and unchallenging life. Is Momentum really the only way to live a life of greatness? THEY'VE never used that term ("greatness"), but that really IS the call: to be as great as I can be. (2) One of the commitments IS to "enrollment", and here is where I draw the line. I have certainly suggested to three friends that Basic just may be the way they get to break through what is truly holding them very small, and in struggle. However, I will NOT commit to deliberately bringing anyone else in.

People in my life will hear my story--limited hearing, because to say what actually happened would ruin the process for others following. Knowing what to expect would be like understanding how to "solve" an IQ test and then being given the test--what a waste! The various exercises called out every dysfunctional part of me...I was caught in my own sh*t--no one had to tell me, I just had to watch my actions and reactions in the necessarily contrived situations. In facing my own consternation and chagrin, I learned that in life, the choice on how to be really IS up to me. Regarding this second reservation, I believe in ATTRACTION, not PROMOTION. If, in fact, I will be expected to promote, then I will not sign up.

Lexy978's reported experience where the blogger was screamed at for not bringing in others? Not my cup of tea. No way to this point have I been criticized for bringing no one else along. The people in my world move slowly, and I would not blame them in the least if they wanted to wait to see if my changes are real, long-term, or are just flashes in the pan.

I know one thing: I have had a lifelong question about why I've struggled with the issue I struggle with. At the Advanced, I got back the memory of what happened at the point where it all began. That certainly was worth the price of admission. And yes, they smile wildly. And yes, they seem way too happy for my taste. And yes, I believed in the leader's sincerity, and the quality of her dedicated energy, in coaching us to ourselves.

It is, to my mind, definitely a case of Both/And. There really is no one view of Momentum Education--only experiences, and interpretations.

If you have read this far, then I acknowledge how much you care about this subject. Please add your wisdom to the conversation.

Re: Momentum Education
Posted by: brad ()
Date: February 05, 2010 12:30PM

First, I applaud this site for what it does. As an atheist, I believe the world would be a better place without religion and the cults that spring them. If only this site were around during the time of Christ, Moses, Joseph Smith and all the other prophets! Now with that said, I am also a graduate of the advanced program at Momentum Education - though I have been in no way active since. Like with any high-touch organization where individual employees can have a profound impact on the experience of their clients, I acknowledge that there are probably over-zealous individual mentors in the program who have over-stepped their bounds or said something foolish along the way. Despite all this, I know that it is not a cult and I firmly believe that the program itself is designed with good intentions. While there may have been references to faith, spirituality, religion, etc. throughout the experience, it was no way ever imposed, there were people of all religious backgrounds in the room and none of that was relevant to the message being delivered. Although the delivery and the context may seem "cultish" the message itself was one of self-empowerment, which ironically, is quite contrary to what most cults try to accomplish.

The Basic: As mentioned in previous posts, the Basic is definitely an introduction to the ideas and focuses more on self-discovery than anything else. You go through exercises that dig deep to discover the assumptions by which you are living your life. While it was a draining exercise, the feeling throughout and the outcome was quite positive.

The pressure to continue to the advanced was definitely over-the-top, though in the end, I made my own decision to do it. I understand that their business relies strictly on word-of-mouth and so having graduates recruit people and convincing Basic grads to do the advanced is paramount to their business model. I would argue that the extent to which you are urged to continue will vary by instructor and by individual. Some people might seem more likely to succumb to the pressure and may therefore be pressured more.

The Advanced: This was a nearly week-long course and the most emotionally draining thing I've ever experienced. I definitely would not consider it fun and every bit of it was stressful. I would liken it to an emotional bootcamp and like with any military bootcamp, not everyone makes it through. Some might call it emotional abuse though I can't help but wonder what Full Metal Jacket's Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey might think of them. Now sure, you didn't sign up for a military bootcamp, but complaining about bathroom breaks and being kept 3 hours without access to food? Really? The bottom-line is that this isn't some lie down on the couch session with your overpaid therapist, it is a real gut-wrenching look at who you are, how you are perceived by others and what is holding you back from being a better person. But in order for it to work, you have to be there for you and not for any other reason. Part of their success in engaging you is by pushing you to fully commit to what you are doing (an important lesson in life in general). It took me a few days to stop laughing internally about the silliness of the exercises and really engage in what was going on. Some people don't react well to the process either because they seem threatened (maybe from pre-conceived notions about it being a cult) or because they were pressured into something that they really didn't want to do for themselves. No matter what, it is really difficult to stand up and hear things from people that you really do not want to hear. It's not just the "instructors" who are providing the feedback, it is the eclectic mix of New Yorkers (and a few from out-of-town, myself included) that tell you their honest impressions of you. The subsequent bond that forms amongst the group you graduate with seems "cultish," but it is no different than the bond that forms among a high school football team throughout a season or among soldiers in a bootcamp, or college students in a fraternity pledge class. When you experience something as grueling as this with a group of people, you are bound to walk away from it with a connection. I don't really keep in touch with any of my classmates but I know if I ever bump into any of them that we share a connection that will last a lifetime.

Lessons learned: I think it is important to spell out some of the ideas that are taught as it may help people understand the importance of the message. Here are a few of my takeaways from this grueling experience:

1. The experience you have of yourself and the person that other people experience you as may not be one in the same. The course is about understanding who you are and making sure that "who you think you are" is as close as possible to "who other people see you as being."

2. Honest, authentic communication is a key component to any relationship. This is no different than anything you will read in texts on leadership and management communications at top tier business schools.

3. People don't change. You won't "change" and this entire course is not about changing you. From time to time, you will stray, one way or another, from the core of who you are, but like a pendulum, you will always return to the center. You can't always stay centered, but you can, however, limit the degree to which you stray by being self-aware.

4. You matter. This is probably geared more for people who are really struggling through their lives, but I think it was a valuable lesson to never forget. Often the question was being asked if you were acting as a victim in this world. Here is where the concept of self-empowerment really kicks in. Most certainly anyone can point to a time in their life when they treated a situation as a victim. Momentum teaches you to look at it differently, rather than a product of your circumstances, your circumstances are a product of what you did or did not do. There is no "higher authority" here that put you in this situation, nor one that will get you out of it - a vastly different idea than the one propagated by cults or religions. You have no one else to blame for anything in your life than yourself. This is the key to the entire thing... you learn that you control your own destiny AND even if that is obvious, you become aware of how easily you can forget that. This is why so many people come out of this experience with a whole new energy level and an entirely different sense of purpose.

Finally, I'll conclude with some advice on this program. I am not familiar with Landmark or EST or any of these other LGATs, so I can't speak to them, endorse them or compare them to Momentum - though it sounds like something I'd never want to endorse. I was ignorant when I showed up at the Momentum Classroom for the Basic over 3 years ago. I had just left my job to matriculate at a top tier business school. My CEO had recommended Momentum to me and offered to personally pay my tuition in Basic as a going away gift. I trusted her judgement, didn't ask many questions and at her suggestion enrolled in Momentum before I left for school. Unlike a small majority of my Momentum peers, I was not really dealing with any great trouble in my life. There were no skeletons in the closets, no personal demons. In fact, the smile hadn't left my face since the day I'd gotten the call regarding my acceptance to business school. So as the course went on, I felt a bit out of place. There were some people there that were dealing with some serious problems and I often wondered why I was there... putting up with the emotional exhaustion of the process. Some of the mentors who had gone on to get their MBAs would tell me how much they wished they could have done it before school. I was always suspicious and wrote it off as them selling me on the idea. Looking back, having done it when I did, the timing could not have been better. I was about to enter a school where I would meet and befriend hundreds of new people. I did so armed with the experience I had with Momentum, an experience that inspired me to dive deeper into personal relationships with people, to engage them, to not be afraid to ask tough questions and to communicate directly and openly. I can only imagine how different my experience might have been if I had taken the same aloof, apathetic approach to relationships that got me through college where I can count on one hand the number of friendships that have lasted the test of the time.

With that said, I can see why some people might be concerned about a loved one going through Momentum Education. It is such a mystery and each individual experience can seemingly vary wildly. Even if I were to send someone to it, I probably would pay close attention to make sure that they are getting out of the program what they should. Some people are more impressionable than others and some seemed to be in search of something to be a part of, something positive to cling onto and sometimes seemed like there really was nothing else going on in their lives. I don't agree with the idea that you can only be great if you do Momentum. If you decide to try it or if you have a loved one that might, be sure to remind them that it's not about the program, it's about them. Who you are in this world matters more than the influence that Momentum Education should have in your life. It is just that, an education that you take with you. While I appreciate the people who have devoted themselves to being mentors, instructors or disciples (how ever you want to look at it), I believe that if you truly got the message, you will take what you learn and return to your life as it was with a whole new perspective. I'm confident that the result can have an immensely positive impact if you make the most of the experience.

In his farewell speech on his much publicized departure from the Tonight Show, Conan O'Brien cited his distaste for cynicism in this world. I found it particularly interesting that of all the things he could say at that moment, he decided to harp on cynicism. If you ever choose to embrace Momentum Education, you'll have to leave your cynicism at the door. It won't serve you any good in there because it is not about them, the experience is about you.

Re: Momentum Education
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: February 05, 2010 11:50PM


You seem to be here as little more than an apologist for Momentum training.

In the first page of this thread I offered the liabliities of such training as written up in a research paper by a licensed psychologist.

Mass marathon training or LGATs (large group awareness training) like Momentum has a long history of personal injuries, complaints and bad press.

Attempting to somehow blame participants for bad results doesn't change that.

What does Momentum do wrong that leads to continued complaints?

Do you think Momentum does anything wrong?

Name something that you question and see as wrong with the training specifically.

Based upon your post it seems like Momentum is offering a kind of group therapy, but without the proper trained professionals licensed and accountable to facilitate and/or provide counseling.

Re: Momentum Education
Posted by: brad ()
Date: February 06, 2010 11:27AM

An apologist for LGATs? No. The thought of EST from what I've read on your site creeps me out like no other.

An apologist for Momentum? That assumes the verdict is out on Momentum. I don't think that Momentum has "a long history of personal injuries, complaints and bad press." I would neither condemn nor promote Momentum. It was a positive experience for me, but I can see how it can either be a bad experience or on the opposite extreme, taken to be more than it is.

There's no doubt that this format has it's liabilities. But the same psychologists will say there are positive values in some of the LGATs (which vary drastically) that they study. I mention that the experience is heavily influenced by the instructors. Some can be over-zealous and I agree that the methods applied to recruit people into it can be aggressive. I also previously argued that despite my appreciation for their efforts, some of the people who tend to embrace this to the point that they become instructors may have missed the message. So you have this cycle of people who get too into it, those that actually get something out of it and those that are completely put off by it. It's the first group that goes on to lead subsequent iterations of the course. If you agree with my premise, then you can see how, with a selection mechanism like that, these things could evolve into something beyond what was originally intended. I don't think Momentum is there, but to an extent, it must have an impact.

I also want to separate the format, LGATs, from the message: the concept of self-awareness, discovering the gap between how you perceive yourself and how you are perceived by others and many of the other aspects of the training that are positive. Classes in Authentic Leadership or Interpersonal Dynamics can be found at top business schools that explore this very subject of how you connect and communicate with other individuals - these also tend to be emotionally draining and difficult for the participants. The difference is in the forum and format. Small groups of highly pre-screened individuals, with professors and licensed professionals in a university setting, versus a larger eclectic group of strangers in a private program run by an entrepreneur with unknown motives. The latter is in no way ideal but for some people, it might be the only access they have to the lessons. As I said, I had a positive experience, but in recommending it to others, I would be cautious. That's not to say that it can't be a beneficial experience. Perhaps an SGATs (meaning small) or individual awareness training is the answer.

Finally, at Momentum, it certainly could seem like group therapy, but only because participants tended to treat it as just that. If anything I remember hearing the line "If you want to talk to a therapist, you're in the wrong place." Some people may have needed therapy, but most people were there to learn.

The bottom line: it seems like LGATs is a broad generalization of a training format. It sounds like it is used by instructors with varying motives to promote various messages. I can see how it can be dangerous, but somewhere in that wide spectrum, there probably are a few that are doing something positive. Momentum has its flaws I'm sure, but it also was doing something positive - from my experience.

Re: Momentum Education
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: February 06, 2010 10:33PM


Let's look at your last post.

"I can see how it can either be a bad experience or on the opposite extreme, taken to be more than it is"?

"people who get too into it"?

"it certainly could seem like group therapy, but only because participants tended to treat it as just that"?

You are blaming participants and not placing any responsibility on Momentum itself for the results of its training.

Be honest. You are an apologist here to essentially spin apologies for this LGAT.

Re: Momentum Education
Posted by: Hope ()
Date: February 06, 2010 11:08PM

So taking the negatives into account, how is Momentum accountable to people who attend and who have a negative experience? Why doesn't Momentum "fix" these problems with ineffective or aggressive trainers, and screen for attendees who shouldn't attend? Why don't they employ licensed professionals? In other words, it's a crap shoot for the consumer who is spending a lot of dough for something that might hurt them and at best maybe they'll learn something they could read in a book (often a truth which is used as a hook) without the risk and without laying out a lot of money. It IS the LGAT format that is the problem - there is no accountability, there is risk for serious psychoemotional injury and when that happens these entities look the other way.

Re: Momentum Education
Posted by: brad ()
Date: March 26, 2010 08:48AM

Hope, you are absolutely correct. The organization should be accountable for what they promise paying customers.

RRmoderator: You do your message board no service by antagonizing anyone that presents a viewpoint that does not suit your agenda. I hope that my experiences and opinions will help people understand Momentum a little more. I felt it was worthwhile for me because of the message not the format. I agree that LGATs can be dangerous - especially when the instructors are former students, and to Hope's point, not licensed professionals.

I will reiterate that I have had no relationship with Momentum since my experience over 4 years ago, I have never recommended anyone to it and I doubt what I wrote is a glowing endorsement that they would appreciate. If you are so eager to discredit Momentum that you resort to calling me a dishonest apologist here to spin for LGATs, then I was misguided in thinking it was worth spending the time to contribute to your forum - feel free to remove my posts.

Re: Momentum Education
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: March 26, 2010 08:48PM


Part of the back and forth at a message board includes others responding to your comments here. And that response may be critical.

If you don't like that feel free to move on.

I stand by the previous analysis of your comments.

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