Recovery from LGAT "Discovery" in Dallas
Date: September 04, 2007 01:37PM
I have attended Discovery (all three trainings) and I am a licensed therapist who is not a church-goer and pretty suspicious by nature. Most people would consider me a critical thinker who doesn't buy into a lot of B.S. I was very hesitant to attend and am shocked to admit, quite gratefully, that I have benefitted a lot from going through the training.
I can completely understand how, if you haven't gone...but a family member has...you might feel excluded or feel left out of a powerful experience your loved one has had. And I felt very suspect of the process during the initial weekend...however...I feel comfortable attesting to the fact that it is not a cult. Do I agree with every part of the training? No. Am I allowed to disagree with parts of the training? Yes. Has Discovery attempted mind control on me or tried to dictate anything about who or how I spend my time or the priorities in my life? No way. Nobody has recruited me to change anything in my life (my faith, my family, my job, my career, my hometown, etc.). I suppose what I have gotten most out of the experience is...the realization that people have the same basic human needs, and that it is very easy to go through our lives not feeling great, despite our many efforts to improve ourselves.
Discovery had such a positive impact on my husband (who went before me) that I agreed to attend myself, quite hesitantly. I can say now that I feel more free, loving, honest and alive than I did before the trainings. I was pretty high-functioning before attending Discovery, but have had past doubts with depression and anxiety. While therapy I've had has been very helpful...I feel that Discovery was able to offer me something therapy couldn't...an "experience" with a group that has allowed me to see myself in a more realistic light and also inspire me to live a better life. Discovery has also challenged me to be a more honest and accountable and loving person. I am really grateful for this. Other people who've been through have gotten ENTIRELY different "gems" from attending. It's a personal thing--not a cultish thing. I can also say that none of my political or religious beliefs have changed.
The point of Discovery is just to help you identify what you want most out of life, and help you free yourself of what gets in the way of that. If you love someone who has been to Discovery, and don't feel that they are taking more personal responsibility in their life...then your loved one has missed the point. I see that has happened with some of the people who were in my group--maybe not so ready to face their part in why they are unhappy. Or...perhaps they were depressed and stuck already...who knows? All I know is...if your loved one has been through Discovery and is still blaming everyone else in their life for their problems...they missed the point--big time.
Discovery is indeed a large group awareness training of sorts, but it is by no means a cult. Cults make sure that all members believe the same things and have the same purposes and goals. My experience with Discovery showed that each person who went took away something different from the experience. Some people "felt better" for going, some "felt worse" for a while as they began to finally deal with the junk of their past that prevents them from living the life they want.
I am sorry for those of you who've had negative experiences with loved ones, or if you had a negative experience in attending yourself. That is difficult and I can understand how let down or freaked out you might feel. There is no "single" road to happiness or freedom or feeling better. For some people, therapy helps. Some people go to church. Some people climb mountains. Some will try a large group training. And others, who want to deal with pain or discomfort in their lives, will drink, betray their spouses, live dishonestly, eat excessively, isolate themselves from the world, hide in their work and ignore their children, gamble, watch TV all day, be unrealistically hard on themselves or others and in general...suffer or create suffering for others.
Given the options, I'll take a little therapy when I can use it, some faith when I feel I need it or can believe it, a large group training like Discovery if there is something to get out of it, and HONEST LIVING where I can always remember what matters most to me and CHOOSE to live in truth and with a purpose.
Oh...and about the CDs...that is almost laughable. Discovery (like ANY retreat I've ever been to) plays music during their training. From my perspective, it's just cheesy music from the 80s and 90s that ultimately does have an encouraging message. That's it...no biggy. You can buy the CDs and listen to the music, or not. My husband got a lot out of Discovery, but really can't bear to own any Celine Dion! And although I don't like most of the music they played and wouldn't choose to listen to the artists otherwise, I do listen to it from time to time, because it softens me up and helps me take a deep breath and get into a better frame of mind (kind of like a good run) and remember a lot of wonderful people who I met. That's it. So...I hope, at least, the whole CD thing has been de-mystified!
I hope this doesn't sound preachy...I have a lot of therapist friends who are very "ANTI" large group trainings who, based on me and my experience with Discovery, would attest that I have in no way been brainwashed or am in a cult. I just went away for a few weekends, learned a bit of how to live in my heart and take responsibility for my own crappy behavior and am now much more satisfied with my marriage and with myself in general. Their feedback is, "you seem more peaceful, more relaxed, less tired, more loving, gentle and open-hearted."
For those of you who are concerned about your loved ones who've gone, just tell them honestly and speak from your heart. If you have gone and are feeling disturbed by stuff that got "stirred up" in there...open up and share with a good friend or find a therapist. Your life can't totally change in three weekends, but I do believe that it can start to. ALL GOOD THERAPY typically means that things may get worse before they get better. It is a process. It is part of the risks and benefits. I hope soon you will experience the benefits of the courage you've had to deal with your depression and get un-stuck, however it makes the best sense for YOU to deal with it. You are worth it.
The best to all of you,