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Re: Choices Seminars
Posted by: gpoilman ()
Date: October 08, 2009 05:48AM

I am so sorry for your "Choices" experience. Unlike the people in your circle, Choices brought me back to God. It restored my marriage which was on the verge of collapse. In short God used my choices experience to restore my life in every way. The problem is that it is not a "christian organization". If you have no moral compass you will go your own way. Coaches are not allowed to offer any advice. Coaches are to encourage and ask questions. The processes you would go through are designed to help you become more self aware. Rather than let life happen to you you are encouraged to take control of your life. I know that sounds non christian, but when I went it showed that I had become complacent with my life. "If this is my lot in life then I guess there is nothing I can do". God showed me that with His help I can change my perspective and live life to it's fullest. Maybe some people take a different route, or choose a different perspective. I can see a danger if you accept everything and yet don't acknowledge Jesus as your savior.
Like I said when I went I had been walking apart from God for more then 10 years. I had just found out my wife was having an affair. I attended Choices as a last ditch effort to save my marriage. The result was not only a saved marriage, but a much better marriage, as well it restored my relationship with Jesus Christ. Not by anything that was told to me but by my heart willing surrendered to God. Now 1 1/2 years later I am a much more complete man in Christ, I have better communication skills. I have seen this result in many people that attend. Like anything you get what you put into it. If you go with a heart open to God, God will reveal Himself to you. I have seen people with no relationship with God come away with a hunger to know God in a personal way. The choice is yours.
I wish I could answer your questions and I will. I just can't sum it all up here. There are many processes designed to get people to see themselves as they really are and then to see if the person they are is the person they want to be. Yes it is psycological but you get what you give. If you are hesitant or unsure God is telling you to be carefull. Choices does not encourage anyone to leave their faith or their marriage. On the contrary it tells them to seek out what they need more of in their lives. You choose what you need.
I am so sorry that the people you know have had bad experiences. Untimatly people will do what they choose to do regardless of what they are told. Maybe my wife and I are different from others but for us it restred our marriage, our faith and our committment to help others.
Please ask me questions if you have fear. I am not being cagy, I just can't describe all the processes it's too much to describe.
God bless

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Re: Choices Seminars
Posted by: bananas ()
Date: December 23, 2009 06:24AM

Well I came across this forum and it's time for some rational discussion about Choices. Not ones based on fear, blind faith, or selective case history. I went through Choices and I have coached. I am not Christian. I do not see God *work* in the Choices room anymore than I've seen God *work* in any other location. Although, I am a strong apotheist believer in God (or better yet what God is not). Human nature is for us to see what we want to see. If you look hard enough to see a teddy bear in a cloud, you'll see one. So goes it for religion and so goes it for seeing God in the Choices room. Yes, religious people annoy me. Choices didn't change my indignation for religion, it only reinforced it.

I am neither on one side of the fence nor the other. Choices is not the be-all and end-all that a lot of former participants think it is. Nor is it Satan's army sent to destroy the world by screwing with your mind and putting money in the pockets of Mary, Joe, and Thelma. Although it certainly does do the latter, but you go in knowing that.

Let's start with some of what we know:

- Choices uses a lot of the same techniques as other LGATs.
- You are not allowed to drink alcohol, do drugs, watch TV (seriously, if you can't do this for five days then maybe you should have a hard look at your life anyway).
- For the most part, people leave in better shape than they came. Even well after they're through with the course.
- Choices has a 90 day rule. You are not to make any major life changes for 90 days after you're done. They don't come right out and say this, but it's to stop people from doing stupid things while they're on that LGAT high.
- The coaches are not trained in psychology. Mary, Joe, and Thelma are not trained in psychology.
- Choices encourages people to live better lives by making small changes, not large ones. Call your sister, call your mother, take responsibility for your mistakes, apologize properly, pay attention, show up on time, forgive, stop drinking so much, quit drugs, stop smoking, exercise, learn how to talk to others, address your past and the anger that you're still carrying.
- People go to Choices because they want to change something in their lives. If you don't want to change anything, then don't go to Choices. You should never feel pressured or coerced into attending one of these sessions.
- Choices is unbelievably hard. It will break down the walls that hold you in, but only if you allow them to be broken. You are rebuilt in a positive way though. You still have free will in that room.
- There is a feedback game where you get an opportunity to hear what others think of you. I would say that pondscum is out of line.
- Choices is a business.

Some of the particular problems I have with Choices:
- Mary, Joe, and Thelma make a killing off *volunteers* that come back to coach after they've been through the session. These coaches have no credentials. But, they don't really do much anyway . . . even though it may seem like they do. The participants do all the work.
- If you want to really meet some screwed up people, get to know some of the coaches real well . . . the ones that keep coming back time after time to coach.

Remember this: Normal people go to Choices to make their lives better. Normal people come back to coach Choices once or twice because they want to give back. Normal people move on and live their lives, take the good things from Choices and leave the rest. People who hang out in that environment, volunteering for a for-profit organization are missing something very very big in their lives.

Yes, I would still recommend Choices. It is a very good program. No, I will never go back to coach. I'm through it and took what I could for the money I spent on it, and I've given back. Now my life is free for me to live as a wiser person.

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Re: Choices Seminars
Posted by: newgirl08 ()
Date: December 24, 2009 01:45AM


I appreciate your openness and honesty in sharing. I can ressonnate with what you wrote of those who keep going back, "voulunteering" time and time again. The people I know who have done that have become so engrossed in Choices that it ruins their lives, cutting into their family time and affecting other relationships. Moderation is the key to most things. Obsessions never turn out good! Thanks for your response from an insider's perspective.

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Re: Choices Seminars
Posted by: bananas ()
Date: December 24, 2009 03:07PM


I wouldn't call myself an insider, maybe a former insider. At most I was on the periphery but I definitely participated and I definitely found a lot of value in the program. People become addicted to self-help. That part is never addressed by Choices. And the addicts are the people who endlessly insist that Choices is incredible . . . of course they say that. Choices has become so much a part of them and their core beliefs that denying Choices would be the same as denying themselves. The brain doesn't like that level of cognitive dissonance.

Like I said, good people go to Choices and they come away with some very intriguing revelations. Things like:
- My drinking is damaging my relationship with my son.
- When I re-fold the towels it irritates my husband and damages our marriage by making him feel inadequate.
- I've always wanted to sign up for singing lessons but was afraid of failing.

At no time should people walk away thinking:
- That was great kool-aid, I want to coach Choices, and go to Super Choices and Super Givers and pay for everyone around me to go, because this is fulfilling my life.

It ain't right. You go, you learn, you fix, and you MOVE ON. This is the experience for the majority of participants, but there's always that minority that is extremely vocal.

I could go on for pages . . .

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Re: Choices Seminars
Posted by: salt1 ()
Date: June 09, 2010 10:49PM

Hello All,
I read all the posts before I attended Choices. I wanted to share my perspective on the organization. I was a long term hold out; I was set on not attending. I reconsidered when I thought to myself – “I’ve spent thousands of dollars on a Bachelor and Masters degrees, I’m successful in my professional life why would I hesitate to invest in my personal life?” Another point I considered was; did I believe I was living life to the fullest? I determined I was not. Therefore, I went for it and attended Choices. I can say today that I’m 100% satisfied with my decision. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

One sticking point for me before I attended was; could this be a cult?

On the other side looking back – NO.

According to Mr. Rick Ross’ site ( and Psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton a cult is characterized by:
1) A charismatic leader, who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose power.
2) A process [is in use] call[ed] coercive persuasion or thought reform.
3) Economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.

I PERSONALLY would add a 4th: lead you away from your family and loved ones.

1) “A charismatic leader” – this point is not valid there were many leaders in my session and I found none of them terribly charismatic. There was no worship.
2) There was no thought reform ( based on Mr. Lifton’s writings.
3) On this point I have to say that Choices is honest, it in the business to assist people to get more out of life.
4) This was the most important for me – I found that Choices in no way turned anyone away from their family or loved ones in reality it did the opposite and taught me how to love those around me and myself to a greater extent.

This is one person’s insight I have hope everyone finds their own answer.

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Re: Choices Seminars
Posted by: bananas ()
Date: July 23, 2010 10:07PM


I highly encourage you to wait a year or two and then go back and coach at Choices. Don't go right away. You'll need some time to process. Then let them use you and see what it's like. Some people say that coaching is even more powerful than going through Choices. I would have to agree, but only because it's an eye opener to what is happening behind the scenes. At first I thought Choices was outstanding, but over time my thoughts of the program have become more realistic, especially with regard to tragic optimism and what it does to a large number of participants.

I still think Choices is a mostly good program, but the hypocrisy of the organization is over the top. These people make money off volunteers that are emotionally attached or possibly addicted to self-help. After all that goes on in the Choices room dealing with addictions, they exploit the very people that they claim to be helping.

Also, the organizers and volunteers are not qualified to be doing the work they are doing. They do end up helping a lot of people that can handle the processes, but for the people that can't handle the processes it can and does lead to more problems. I wouldn't go to an accountant to fix my car, so why would I ask one to provide me with counseling? Just saying.

I think it's only fair to state that I'm an agnostic, a skeptic, and a deep thinker. You might, in fact, call me green if that's your thing.

I'll say what I said before. Go to Choices if you think it's going to make a difference in your life. Do not go to appease anyone or if you feel pressured to do so. Go see a qualified counselor - and NOT a life coach.


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Re: Choices Seminars
Date: December 28, 2010 01:51AM

WOW I can't believe how many of these stories resemble what I have seen through choices. I personally have had a Marriage break up, that was not directly related to choices. The marriage was in bad shape before, choices changed my spouse to such a self centered person. She did not resemble the person I once new at all.
The Coaches at Choices are a Joke, there are 1-2 good ones. The rest are looking to build there own egos! Going back and coaching once I can see, but doing it over and over. You have some issues....
The cost and the money made.... $2500per session to go. Your Hotel room for 6 nights (Shared room) $450- follow up weekend 4 nights $300
Choices may have some room rentals, so say $3500 for that and thats high. that would be $50 a person. Any Choices groupies please point out what I'm Missing? so that a $1700 profit per person. based on 70 people. that $120 000 profit per seminar....WOW. Someone mentioned the Scholarship in the thread, I had to laugh at that. The Scholarship is for $350 and that money comes from donations taken form the Sunday morning service they have. So Choices doesn't even give kick in any themselves.
The Money back guarantee always puzzled me. You can get a full refund at the end of the seminar. Most people who hate it just up and leave and EVERY session a few do. At the end of mine, your on a bit of a high because its OVER! yeah and you get to go home and see your family. But if you notice Thelma usually leaves ASAP... choices groupies watch this for yourself. So you cant go and ask fr one...I wish I could ask now. Could use that $2500 over Christmas.
Give Thelma, JOE AND the rest there due, VERY Shrewd business people. They know how to make money, and then getting the first nations involved in BC. With all the Government grants they can access there, brilliant!
I think what they teach at Choices is mainly just Dr Phil ramblings. I don't see a deep danger in it. Is it a Cult?? well not much different then calling the Calgary Flames a Cult. Why is it a secret, in what they do. It's not because it's anything dark.. it's because what you do is sooo stupid that if you knew what you had to do when you got there. You would never go! you have to see it to believe it really, and it would make for a great reality TV show.

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Re: Choices Seminars
Posted by: Moho ()
Date: March 25, 2016 03:39AM

I've been through Choices and I think it's entirely dangerous but it's not the big life changing deal it's made out to be unless you've never experienced any kind of happiness in your life ever then maybe you will fall pretty hard for it. They say to keep what happens a secret but that is to take people off guard. I'll describe the main events because I don't agree with this silly I've got a secret giggle giggle just pay 2 grand to find out what nonsense. It all begins by walking into a large dimly lit conference room with about 70 other people. There is loud music playing and banners on the walls mostly copying phrases coined by other people such as " Be the change you want to see in the world". And "Life begins outside your comfort zone". Nothing is offensive most of it is taken from main stream psychology, Ghandi and Oprah. Thelma comes in and talks to the group and asks for people to share some of what they're feeling why they're there etc. You get a binder with a couple of pens shaped like a screwdriver "your choices tools". Nothing too extreme. The extreme part begins when they make you leave the room change the chairs into groups of 6 or so and then ask you to mill around to loud ominous music and find a "buddy". It has to be someone you've never met or seen before. You have to call them buddy for the rest of the course. Then you and your buddy have to find a group to belong to. Each group has two angry looking "coaches" glaring at everybody. Dressed in black even if you smile and say hello they just glare at you and tell you to sit down or not. I sat with my buddy and she laughed nervously saying what is this? They told us to be quiet and quit laughing because this was serious. This angry facade is all part of what they are supposed to act like. Then we talk about ourselves to the group and they initiate something called I think "trash can". This is where one person stands up and is insulted by each person. One girl volunteered and the coaches said things like I experience you as a fat ugly girl standing in the playground with no friends. I experience you as a lonely miserable shell. She of course started bawling and everybody was really angry and some were outraged that they insulted her so. Then we had to get into new groups and were forced to say things to other people that we never met. I was hesitant and so I was stuttering. One of the coaches pushed me on my back and told me to hurry up and say things that were mean. I said don't touch me again and his face turned purple with rage. Then a coach said she experienced me as a spoiled brat who gets whatever she wants. This was so far from the truth that I actually started laughing by accident and the coaches got really mad and told me I wasn't serious. I just said I'm trying but you're not saying anything that's making me cry. They tried calling me a poor lonely kid who doesent have any friends but it was too much like what they said to the other girl so I didn't cry. We were supposed to say something like I hear you thank you for the feedback when someone insulted us. A lot of people were swearing yelling crying telling the coaches they experienced them as monsters and jerks and other insults so the coaches had to accept it too in fairness. Then we went back to our regular groups and got some homework that we had to do with our buddy in the evening. It was basic stuff like name 5 times you were hurt. Name 5 negative things you say about yourself. It's all designed to break you down to your lowest possible morale. But in fairness you get to do it with other group members so you all feel like your in it together. The next day is more of the same. Loud bursts of music designed to elicit emotional responses especially crying. People crying leaving the room yelling at the coaches etc. Talking about their childhood. You have breaks for food but you have to shovel it down because you don't get much time. Thelma comes in and yells at everyone for not being serious etc. Then everyone gets a name. It's a mean name like walking zombie or given up on life or hopeless drifter. Mine was yeah yeah. I think if they had gotten a name that suited me I might have bought in a little more but I couldn't understand what it meant. I asked honestly to explain what it was they were seeing in me to give me that name and they said rudely that Thelma prays for hours and puts massive thought into coming up with these names so do not question it. I wasn't saying it was wrong just asking for clarity which I didn't get. Some people cried and said their name described them perfectly etc. So we got more homework and people were exhausted of course from all the seething anger and crying mostly. The next day suddenly the coaches were smiling and dressed in colours and beaming at everyone. The music was gentle and emotional. Then they started the reverse training. They had us do reverse trash can and say all these wonderful things about each other. They told the girl from the first day she was a beautiful flower awakening to life (or something like that). The coach that insulted me suddenly was hugging me and telling me I was like the sun shining on the trees. It was really extreme and I recoiled almost as much as to the original one. I didn't like people touching me. Thelma went around getting people to open up and admit things like they loved their wife even though they cheated on her 20 times and blah blah blah. Lots of people said terrible things like they were raped or abused as children. People of course were crying and collapsing and wailing all over the place. Then we had to pick our new contract to describe ourselves. Things like I am a woman who loves myself. I am a strong confident man who loves his wife. We ripped off our old names and wrote out our contracts. I did cry a little at this stage but it also got a bit irritating because this is were people began talking about God and praying and becoming a child of God. My coaches were actually pretty good in respecting my aversion to the religious stuff but it was definitely there if you were keen. Then you are put into a new group chosen by Thelma and told to practice singing and dancing to a song she picked for your group. It was alright. She picks country songs for the most part being Texan I suppose. Music is a huge part of the seminar. The last day each group performs their song while the entire room cheers and screams for them. It's supposed to release your inner spirit and make you experience happiness. Yes they do rock you when you are finished your song. About 5-10 people lift you up and rock you back and forth. It was concerning to see them do it to pregnant women but they were very careful it's true. So then after you are in this black room with a song playing holding a candle and you turn around and see the person to "sponsored" you ie told you to come standing with a lit candle. They light your candle and again everyone is crying. Etc etc. They gave you dried beans on day 3 and told you it is medicine to give to people in need. Symbolic of course but Ill tell you sone people went crazy crying handing out medicine to everyone and giving it to their Sponser. You do all kinds of other exercises like talking about tapes playing in your head that say mean things to you. That's apparently why they do trash can to get you in touch with your negative tapes. It's not a bad idea but it is quite harsh and really didn't work for me because they weren't guess guessing the right tapes I had in my head. You go through this line up with your eyes closed where each person says something kind to you and touches your hands and arms. It's not bad really but the problem is that people become obsessed with it like they are on a high. They approach strangers and give out medicine (beans) and hug them and then act like its some great secret that they have found out and try to get people to go to choices. So it's one heck of a good marketing scheme and profitable business I'll give Thelma credit for that but it is flawed and the euphoria doesn't last. I never had the euphoria but other people sure did. The other thing is that your buddy and coaches have to keep in touch with you by phone and when I didn't phone them back I had a really cold reception at the next phase of the seminar called colours. I was quite ostracized because I wasn't falling into it like an obsession. This is also when they began to get more forceful regarding the religion. Some people downright ignored me and were purposefully rude to me because I wasn't interested in the religion and because I was reserved with my gushing. I was pleasant just not acting like I had a labotomy that took out my frontal cortex and made me loose all inhibition. It was common for the men to take off their shirts and run in a circle to the blasting of St. Elmo's Fire. Like I said if you lived your life in a strict militant environment I can see you letting loose in choices and flying high but if you're an average person whose had good times and bad you might find it extreme, a little annoying and a waste of money. Knowing more about what gies on might make it easier for a professional to analyze this seminar and I'd be interested to hear it. Also they do target the Native bands. My buddy was Native and she said her band pays for people to go. About 50% of the participants were Native. Thelma said she's proud they've chosen choices to aid with their cultural healing. So I don't know I think it's a money grab but it depends.

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Re: Choices Seminars
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 25, 2016 10:55PM

This all sounds very harsh.

Did the Choices gang require participants to sign away the right so sue
or mediate for damages?

Here are examples:

No physician requires us to sign away our right to sue if we are injured through malpractice.

So it is a double standard when someone who claims to have the power to transform YOUR life refuses to take responsibility for wielding such power by shoving the
responsibility onto the participants who need empowerment and are therefore taking the course (!)

Moho, were you able to sleep after each day of this?

Did you get enough sleep each night?

What did you do for meals?

Were you able to go home at night?

Finally, did they give any instructions about use of medications or caffeinated beverages?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/25/2016 11:05PM by corboy.

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