Choices Seminars
Posted by: newgirl08 ()
Date: January 22, 2009 07:59AM

I am really curious if anyone out there has anymore information on the Choices Seminars that are offered in Calgary, Vancouver and Texas. Is anyone who has been through the program willing to let me know a little more about it? I don't get much about what actually happens there from the testimonials I read on their site at: []
I'm curious to know from someone first hand. Thanks!

Re: Choices Seminars
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: January 22, 2009 07:57PM

It appears that this program may be similar to mass marathon training, such as Lifespring or Landmark Education.

See []

This is a research study done by a clinical psychologist about such training. He points out 13 liabilities to watch out for within such programs.

13 liabilities of encounter groups, some of which are similar to characteristics of most current mass marathon psychotherapy training sessions:

1. They lack adequate participant-selection criteria.

2. They lack reliable norms, supervision, and adequate training for leaders.

3. They lack clearly defined responsibility.

4. They sometimes foster pseudoauthenticity and pseudoreality.

5. They sometimes foster inappropriate patterns of relationships.

6. They sometimes ignore the necessity and utility of ego defenses.

7. They sometimes teach the covert value of total exposure instead of valuing personal differences.

8. They sometimes foster impulsive personality styles and behavioral strategies.

9. They sometimes devalue critical thinking in favor of "experiencing" without self-analysis or reflection.

10. They sometimes ignore stated goals, misrepresent their actual techniques, and obfuscate their real agenda.

11. They sometimes focus too much on structural self-awareness techniques and misplace the goal of democratic education; as a result participants may learn more about themselves and less about group process.

12. They pay inadequate attention to decisions regarding time limitations. This may lead to increased pressure on some participants to unconsciously "fabricate" a cure.

13. They fail to adequately consider the "psychonoxious" or deleterious effects of group participation (or] adverse countertransference reactions.

He also points out four dager signs.

The groups were determined to be dangerous when:

1. Leaders had rigid, unbending beliefs about what participants should experience and believe, how they should behave in the group. and when they should change.

2. Leaders had no sense of differential diagnosis and assessment skills, valued cathartic emotional breakthroughs as the ultimate therapeutic experience, and sadistically pressed to create or force a breakthrough in every participant.

3. Leaders had an evangelical system of belief that was the one single pathway to salvation.

4. Leaders were true believers and sealed their doctrine off from discomforting data or disquieting results and tended to discount a poor result by, "blaming the victim."

Various mass marathon training programs have also allegedly used coercive persuasion techniques.

See []

The key factors that distinguish coercive persuasion from other training and socialization schemes are:

1. The reliance on intense interpersonal and psychological attack to destabilize an individual's sense of self to promote compliance

2. The use of an organized peer group

3. Applying interpersonal pressure to promote conformity

4. The manipulation of the totality of the person's social environment to stabilize behavior once modified

Coercive persuasion differs from other means of persuasion such as education, advertising, propaganda and indoctrination in distinct ways.

See []

Such distinctions are outlined in the above linked chart by clinical psychologist and researcher Margaret Singer.

Re: Choices Seminars
Posted by: gpoilman ()
Date: June 14, 2009 02:45PM

I am a Choices graduate. I attended Choices in June 08. Since then I have returned to help coach. I am also a chrstian. Choices, although it was founded by Thelma Box (a born again fundamental christian) is not a christian organization. It is based on biblical belifes but does not force christianity on attendees. If you bring Christ to Choices He works through the processes you go through. Christ worked through Choices for both my wife and I, and I have seen countless other christian and non christian benifit from Choices. It is a life changing seminar. It changed my life, and brought meaning and purpose to a very troubled time in my life. God has worked on me and my heart in the past year and He deserves all the glory. No not all the people that attend Choices meet God, and some may even choose a diferent path, however I belive that God works through the Choices processes if you allow Him to. I challenge you to find anyone who has attended Choices to speak poorly of it. It is not a cult, nor is it brainwashing. It is somewhat secretive because the strength lies in not knowing what is next. They definatly use methods that some whould question just due to the secrecy, however therin lies their strength. If you know what to expect you expect what you get and it is diminished. I will gladly tell you generally what happens, however I urge you to seek God if you are thinking of attending. If He does not say no than consider it. Do not make your desicion on wether to attend based on fear of the unknown. Fear based decisions are almost always the wrong ones. Our pastor went and the only criticisim he had was that it did not specifically point toward God. He had no problems with any of the processes he went through. In fact he uses Choices processes in his councelling. As a coach, my goal was to bring Christ with me. Coaches are not to advise or offer answers. We are only to ask questions. The trainee provides the answers. God in us gives us what we are looking for. All of my trainees commented that it was a very spiritual journey for them. Many are now attending church again, or some for the first time. God is definatly alive in choices, through christian trainees and coaches. Please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.

Re: Choices Seminars
Posted by: Sparky ()
Date: June 14, 2009 11:36PM

QUOTE FROM gpoilman:

"...I challenge you to find anyone who has attended Choices to speak poorly of it. It is not a cult, nor is it brainwashing. It is somewhat secretive because the strength lies in not knowing what is next. They definatly use methods that some whould question just due to the secrecy, however therin lies their strength..."

A challenge? From your very words this thing screams LGAT. Secrets? Do you sign a waiver? What does it cost? Are other Choices seminars available for purchase? How expensive are the 'advanced' courses? As a 'help coach' are you renumerated? If not, why not? How long are the 'sessions'?

Secrecy is always a warning sign. I surprised by your apparant lack of reflection on that secrecy.

Re: Choices Seminars
Posted by: Sparky ()
Date: June 15, 2009 09:31AM

Thanks to newgirl08 for the link, apparently Choices is limited in the geographical area of damage it can inflict. They boast about three areas, Texas, Vancouver and Calgary where they conduct their LGAT.

They do the typical money-grab of offering multiple seminars including ones for teens and for relationship development. The one most intersting was the business one aimed at corporations to inflict on their poor employees. No where did I find any prices but they don't do these for free, obviously.

It blows me away how similar all these LGATs seem. 'Choices' appears to be no exception. 'Dr. Phil' has helped to develop 'Choices' so you know it's legit, boy! You know they are legit! Right? Right? No?

Re: Choices Seminars
Posted by: ExLand ()
Date: June 15, 2009 04:41PM

It is interesting to see Dr Phil's name come up in this thread. When I did the landmark forum, we were told that Dr Phil was a landmark forum graduate. The other strange thing is that he has hosted shows dealing with cult activity, I think Rick Ross even attended one of his shows on cults as a cult expert. We were also told that Madonna and the Wachowski brothers (Matrix Trilogy) had completed the landmark forum.


Re: Choices Seminars
Posted by: gpoilman ()
Date: June 16, 2009 04:06AM

I apologize if I offend. I thought newgirl08 was liiking for information from someone who had attended a seminar. Their seems to be alot of fear based decisions made here. I agree secrets are concerning. However they arn't secret. If someone is never planning on attending then it is an open book. The reason we keep the processes a secret is so you don't have any preconcieved ideas of what you will get from the seminar. If you know what to expect you will get what you expect. Every attendee gets something different, it is a very personal experience.
As I mentioned, I am a christian and many christians attend. They offer a money back guarentee, so if you are not completly satisfied with the seminar they will refund your money. As to the question do you get renumerated as a coach? The answer is no. To qualify as a coach you need to have attended Choices as well as the two followup weekends. Costs for choices are around $2500.00 CDN depending on where you attend that is a total of 6 nights accomadation as well as training costs. Do they make money? I'm sure they do, Choices is a buisness, but that does not negate the benifits. They also have a scolarship program that you may apply for to lower the cost. Let's face it, it is a buisness, but it has been around for over 25 years and it benifits people that attend. You get what you bring, if that is Christ in you it is very powerfull. The Dr Phil connection is that it was developed by Thelma Box and Dr Phil's father. When Dr. Phil's father passed away it became Dr. Phil's and Thelma's. Phil was just starting his climb to fame and he wanted to sell his portion, Thelma bought him out. Yes it is a buisness. That did bother me at first, however I can view it from the perspective of what it gave me. It has changed my life and vastly improved my relationship with my savior Jesus Christ. I'm sorry there is so much fear driving people, however rightly so, as there are many scams out there. This is not a scam. They do promote their other seminars as I'm sure it makes them money. That does not change the good that they provide. No one forces any donations, and you are not required to attend so many seminars in so much time. You are encouraged to continue your personel growth through any means possible. Not just through Choices. They encourage you to come back and coach, and as a coach there are no more secrets. Nothing is hidden from us. It is all about giving back. Reserch it, try to talk to anyone who has attended and see how it changed their lives. Above all pray and ask God if Choices is right for you. Fear is what limits us, we tend to fear anything outside our comfort zone. That limits our experience in life. Check it out and ask God. You may be surprised.
It is not my intention to defend or argue semantics. If you are not comfortable with Choices... don't go. But be carefull about making assumptions of what you don't know. God has used Choices to change many lives, and to discourage just because it makes you uncomfortable is dangerous. God bless.

Re: Choices Seminars
Posted by: Sparky ()
Date: June 16, 2009 09:13AM

gpoilman, thank you for your honest and open response. I will say that I know nothing about 'Choices'. I do know about LGATs from reading the heart-rending accounts on this site and others.

I think you may do well to understand everyone's mood here by reading some of these past stories and 'witnessing' (to borrow the christian term) that people have done who have had bad experiences with LGATs. There are a lot of threads to choose from, I would suggest those labeled 'Landmark' or 'EST' since those are the biggest and most successful and who many other LGATs base themselves after.

Also, please understand some terminology at this site. The most important is 'apologist'. An 'apologist' is someone who comes here with the idea to 'muddy the waters of discussion/complaints' with nothing but positive views of the topic. Please don't be an 'apologist'. I feel you are not one.

Re: Choices Seminars
Posted by: gpoilman ()
Date: June 17, 2009 03:05AM

You are correst I need to educate myself of the mood and experiences of the people on this forum. I will look at some other threads and try to understand where people are comming from. I respect peoples experiences and do not want to "muddy the waters". The bottom line is I have had a fantastic "Choices experience" and God met me there. I recognise it may not be for everybody so I will be truthfull with anybody who needs clairification. God bless.

Re: Choices Seminars
Posted by: newgirl08 ()
Date: October 08, 2009 02:26AM

I wasn't entirely honest. Yes I am curious, but because I have experience with several friends who attended Choices, including the previous pastor of my church. The effects I have seen in my church has been devestating. The church has nearly died. Several marriages of participants in choices have ended. I have not seen positive effects in the lives of the people that have been, even though they would still say it "changed their life." Sure it did, but it wasn't pretty. My pastor returned from choices no longer beleiving that Jesus Christ was the only way to salvation. He had become a universalist, beleiving that all ways of approaching God were equally valid. He compromised his Chrsitian beleifs in order to become further involved in Choices. He also left behind his self-less servant's heart and traded it in for one that sported the slogan "I'll do whatever it takes to get whatever I want."
He is not the only one I saw change this way. What is it about Choices that makes people (in my expereince) self centered and cold towards people that they previously loved?
gspoilman, How is it that we can find out more informtion then, without going. You said the secret will not be kept if someone decides for sure that they do not want to go. I can tell you I will never go. However, I also tell every single person that I hear talking about Choices that from what I know I would run the other direction. If you truly believe that is not necessary, then please provide me with some information that would give me evidence to the contrary, ie. contents of the sessions.

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