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Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: flwpboi ()
Date: September 16, 2010 12:40AM

Hello everyone,
I was at Choices for a period of time. I found this website during one of my probably worst moments there and it definately helped. I had a different experience there it really wasn't all bad and it really did help me get over certain things that had been affecting me. However, I was always pretty aware of what Choices was and why I was there, so that helped me stay sane during some of the moments of mental hell I'm pretty sure we've all been through there. I believed that however ridiculous some of the stuff there was, it could still help. Trying to participate there I think is actually what led to some of the most insane feeling moments of my life. Trying to reconcile the things they said to me that I believed with how I felt led to all sorts of private neuroses and breakdowns that are only just starting to go away. Transitioning/leaving was probably one of the hardest things I ever did, no exaggeration but I'm doing great now (lol I think) and actually recently began re-establishing contact with people there. For the record, a lot of the people there are some of the best people i've met in my entire life. Unfortunately, I cannot live my life "under direction," as many of them would put it. Some of the people there acknowledge what it is, and really helped me get through certain parts of my experience. Specifically, one counselor in particular really helped me with that by being real with me (though I suspect it was a good cop/bad cop dynamic between two of them because it kept me there for a little bit longer.)
The reason I am posting on this site is because I am starting to write a book. It is not going to be a trashing of Choices, more of an observational book on the effects of a community like that on people's mental states. The plan, if I can do it, is to write a semi-fictional story set in California based off some of the things I saw there (I'm doing a lot of careful writing to not take advantage of peoples personal stories.) I would like to talk, if possible, to some of the people who were there early on, but really anyone who was there. I've basically only heard one side of most of the stories described on here and would like to learn more. Anyone who feels like contributing definately feel free to PM me. I'm a little reluctant to post here as I don't really want to join the general trashing of the place whatever my personal feelings may be, mainly because there are still people I care alot about there. That being said, I still dream about that damn circle and whoever is going to make their personal vendetta my therapeutic goal of the month. I still feel regret over things I said to certain people while completely "in" what was going on, and things I did while I was there especially at the end of my stay. It's interesting to me how a lot of the people I have talked to who left institutions like Choices (there is an AA group in MD that is similar, and a group in NY I've come into contact with) have incorporated the good lessons while attempting to recover from some of the damaging therapy.
Anyways, I feel like I'm rambling but I have wanted to post here for a while. I'm happy many of the people who have left are still doing well and I'm pretty proud of the accomplishments I've made for myself in the past year. Some of the first I've ever really done. As many other people have mentioned, I still overanalyze myself and my friends and think everythings going to collapse. Still not sure if thats accurate or just a remnant of my help there. I hope to hear from some people and I definately do want to say if it weren't for me coming to Choices I would not be doing any of the things I'm doing now, let alone possibly even be alive. I just wish I had learned some of the lessons I learnt there in a more traditional way, but thats just my stubborn ass's way.

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Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: bullcccrap ()
Date: March 04, 2011 10:43AM

Just to update anyone who doesn't know, Choices has really gone down the crapper. For starters Pat, Karen, and Regan are all gone! They kind of let Pat go and Karen and Regan left to do other things. Garden Palette and Dan camp closed, so they have no where to put the newbies so they hardly take in any newcomers. A lot of the older members left after Maureen died, either got angry at CCC or just stopped being involved so there aren't many places to house newcomers. Also the person that was referring kids from MD realized they have no exit plan and stopped doing that. Although it is still very disturbing that some people are still there being taken advantage of, it is good to know its not nearly as bad. Screw that place, I hope they get sued for everything their worth, go to jail, and give us our money back.

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Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: bullcccrap ()
Date: March 04, 2011 10:47AM

[www.youtube.com] Note all the terrible comments people left lol

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Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: Lady Pleiades ()
Date: January 10, 2012 02:18AM

I don't think it's right to post the lines from the Wizard of Oz that keep running through my head :) but I was going to just let anyone know that my name was Beth O'Rourke while I was at Choices in the 80s and 90s and I would love to connect on FB or even through email (although you wont' find me with that name). PM me here and we can share emails. I have been meaning to come out of the closet here for a while and would love to connect with any of you!

I got another master's degree, this time in counseling, and all my experience at Choices was very useful for my coursework. Mostly the experience was to make a point of - Don't go down that road! Look what can happen! When we studied experiential therapy and psychodrama, my professor said "Remember Beth's experience" to cement her point that it is not really used very often. I was somewhat surprised actually that my professor, a clinician, had already held that opinion of the practice. One of my classmates, a longtime addictions counselor getting continuing ed confirmed that we all would be suffering with a mild form of PTSD after leaving there. It's been a long time for me but the information was a relief nonetheless.

Well, hope to connect openly soon! Have a happy, healthy 2012~~

Beth :)

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Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: JTAB ()
Date: February 05, 2012 10:32PM

Does anyone know how the people in Orlando are doing now, the ones left behind? I agree that it is a process to heal the emotional abuse experianced by being in that community, which caused anxiety instead of relieving it. Good Look to all past members ,that you may find your own peace.

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Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: Lady Pleiades ()
Date: February 15, 2012 01:11AM

I don't know much about how people are doing there, who is still involved in Choices and who is not. I did want to post some articles that a recovering Choices member sent to me a while ago. If you have any kind of academic interest in bad therapy experiences or the recovery therewith, these articles are extremely helpful.

Pepper, Robert S. The omnipotent clinician: A potential source of iatrogenesis. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy Volume 26, Number 3, 287-294, DOI: 10.1007/BF02307591

[www.springerlink.com]

There's another one titled: Emotional Incest in Group Psychotherapy you can find via Google or I can send a scan.

Hope everyone is well!

Beth

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Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: HottShott8 ()
Date: August 01, 2012 12:32AM

Choices is Falling apart to say the least. When Maureen Traynor Passed away her sober community she worked so hard to build moved on aswell. In recent months their have been patients using cocaine at the facililty having cocaine dropped off to the facililty, tripping on cough medicine, drinking during program week at the best western, and stealing from the little sober community that is still remaining. A few of the patients were kicked out, only to be let back in a month or more later. One of the patients who returned was guilty of having cocaine dropped off to Choices. There was no action takin in an incident where two young men went out, got completely trashed and ended up arrested and in jail for 3 days. And most recently (about a month and a half ago) One of Beth's counselors made a very poor decision. A young male counselor with no credible certifications took a female patient out, proceeded to give her alcohol until she was intoxicated and then had sexual relations with her. They were soon found out and he was fired. Choices is the last place on earth where i would send my son or daughter. With the drug use that goes on there, the lack of sober community and support, the fact that male counselors are taking advantage of young girls with drug, sex, or alcohol addictions is completely unacceptable. Something should be done about this because im sure Beth is trying to keep whatever goes on there completely under wraps. I don't want to hear of another girl being takin advantage of.

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Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: JST123 ()
Date: August 11, 2012 10:54AM

Wow. I had heard about this website while I was there, and I feel so much better after reading all the posts. I just got home from Choices 10 days ago, and everything that HottShott8 posted is true. It all happened in the treacherously long 3 1/2 months that I was there. It seemed like 3 1/2 years - I can't even begin to imagine what would be left of my life if I had stayed there that long. Thank God I left when I did. I knew in my heart and soul that it was time for me to leave, but it's too bad I had to go with no warning to anyone. From what I have seen, it is impossible to leave there without putting up a fight, so I just disappeared one day. The only staff member that tried to call me was the leader of the group that day, and it was right when group was over, so I'm sure he was only calling because all the girls needed a ride home. That was one of many ways they took advantage of me and my mini van. I called the next day to ask them to send me my meds and was told that Beth had tried to call me. That was a lie. There are many lies that are told at that place.

The part about the counselor and the client - that was just shockingly horrendous. Beyond words. The group was read a letter (written by a lawyer) that basically said we were never ever to talk about it. To make it worse, the young woman involved is still there!!! She had just as much a part in it as the counselor (not to make him sound innocent!) and actually had it all planned out. We all felt like she should have been kicked out, too. She is just not allowed to go to any groups that Beth is not in. I wonder what her rich parents were told.

A good friend of mine relapsed there twice and is currently being treated like dog doo-doo (the post about relapsers is absolutely right). They don't understand that her problem is not because alcohol causes her depression - she drinks because she IS depressed, and they are not addressing that issue. They are making her even MORE depressed and driving her to suicide. She told me so (and others). I am very scared for her.

I am only 169 days sober now, and though I must admit that Choices did me some good, I know if I had stayed any longer, I would have started drinking again. Here at home, I am safe and sober. I go to AA meetings every day, and I am actively looking for a sponsor and a therapist. I feel very blessed that I didn't let the Choices community suck me in. I will be eternally grateful to God for that. And also for not letting me have to suffer the aftermath!

I pray everyday for those I left behind, and for those yet to come. I pray that they all are able to allow their higher power to give them the strength to know right from wrong, to know what is good for them and what is not, to know what works for them and what does not.

I never met Maureen, but from what I have read, it sounds like her daughter is running the place exactly like her mother would wish. I am happy to hear that some legal action was taken against Maureen, but the legacy lives on...

Thanks to all of you for this forum. God bless and keep you safe, happy, and sober! One day at a time!

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Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: Lady Pleiades ()
Date: August 11, 2012 10:00PM

Welcome JST and Congrats on being 169 days sober! There are a lot of good meetings and therapists out here in the real world :) In fact, finding a higher power of my own understanding and a program of recovery that worked for me has given me a lot of strength.

I am really sorry to hear about the young woman who is still there and, especially your friend. The young woman who "took part" is a dubious argument. What Choices never acknowledged while I was there and continue is that a therapist/client relationship is by definition not balanced and never should be! That's like Jerry Sandusky saying "well those kids let me do it" or "they were willing". ugh. If that were my daughter I would sue big time. In fact those articles I posted above are about that exactly. If you get your hands on the ACA code of ethics you can see it in print. Multiple relationships. Confidentiality. Not for them. They would have us over for holidays and parties. My ex lived with Maureen's son. We lived with Beth. Beth's husband was supposed to be in therapy with his mother in law?! All kinds of creepy and ewww. Beth used to be a very good therapist and kind person, and her mother was.... well if you ever read People of the Lie by Scott Peck, She is the closest person I have ever met who would fit in that book.

If you can, stay in touch with your friend who is depressed somehow. You may have a duty to report if you feel she is truly suicidal. They won't. They don't want to bring any unnecessary light to their operations. I had really pretty bad anxiety symptoms from being there and all the lies and they medicated on their own, where they should have referred out. Maureen did get punished for that. Sadly, her punishment did not include having her license revoked. But if you are abused like we were under her "care" you are brainwashed into believing her. So we didn't really try a civil suit or anything more than the governing bodies like ACA.

But staying sober, getting to a bunch of different meetings until you find some you like and finding a good therapist is a really good plan. If you want to pm and send me your email we can stay in touch that way too.

Beth

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Re: Recovering from Choices Counseling Center
Posted by: Lady Pleiades ()
Date: August 11, 2012 10:07PM

Hi Hottshott, sorry to hear about all that going on over there but I'm not surprised. Maureen was a master manipulator and controller and that's how she got people to "change." That kind of controlling she did most with her own kids. I think they were all impaired counselors and sounds like they still are. Try to get to as many non-choices meetings as you can.

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