I started volunteering for the All Stars in March 2004 (found 'em through VolunteerMatch, the slimy bastards) and left my Social Therapist, who left the Social Therapy Group but who continues to practice this scam, at the end of August, 2011. I felt the All Stars and the East Side Institute were, if not cults, close enough to a cult that I stopped volunteering there as soon as my ex-therapist left, but that Social Therapy had its merits and in and of itself, it was a good therapeutic model. That changed when I told my "therapist" I was leaving (which I decided to do because I couldn't get past our cultic beginnings, and her involvement in my life was feeling increasingly like interference) and she went totally ballistic on me, telling me that she was "offended" that I didn't involve her in the decision-making process and that my decision was "shaky" and "unhealthy" and "[I knew] how [I got] when [I was] alone" and on and on for 45 minutes. I went to group that night to say goodbye and when I asked her why she thought the decision was unhealthy, she snapped, "Why are you asking me that?" I said "Because I want to know" and she said "I don't think you really want to know what I think. If you did,you would have involved me in your decision-making process." There's growthfulness and development for ya!
It took me until just before Thanksgiving to feel mentally and physically fit enough to go to the Cult Clinic in NYC - I'd contacted them, but I was too scared to go, because I was still afraid they'd
find some loophole in my behavior that would justify these scammers' manipulative and verbally abusive treatment of me - but after only three sessions, I feel freer and happier than I have in YEARS. Simply by believing me and not judging my "tantrums" that I threw in the group (except to say, "Yeah, I'm not surprised!") and pointing out exactly what they do and how they do it, I've been able to conclude, along with a lot of supplemental reading and talking to some savvy friends and a few ex-IWP people, that the whole thing is a complete scam and that Social Therapy is rotten to the core, no matter who practices it, or where. It's nothing but a more mainstream, watered-down version of the Synanon Game. That these people do what they do in the name of helping inner city children and those with emotional and mental problems makes me sick, and slickness of their racket terrifies me. I still go back and peek at their websites to see if I still get "sucked in." And sadly, I still do. I'm much less susceptible than I was when I first left, but sometimes I'll catch myself thinking "Wow, that sounds cool!" and I will literally have to slap myself upside the head (not hard!) to remind myself that at best, these people are mostly full of hot gas.
I still have remaining psychosomatic symptoms, though. My new therapist told me that's normal and they will fade with time, but they're still extremely unpleasant. When I was in there, I kept having the physical sensation that the group had me pinned against the wall, with a cardboard box over my face and someone standing on my heart. I've always been a sensitive person who visibly flinches at certain people's voices and/or mannerisms, but I'd never
experienced anything like that before. I haven't experienced it since speaking to my new therapist about it. Now I have to work with her on getting rid of the physical sensations of someone waving a hand over my eyes and feeling like I'm pressed up against a huge monolith...and second-guessing myself.
If you are in NYC, I highly recommend contacting the Cult Clinic
at the Jewish Board of Child and Family Services. It's in the Resources section of this site, but I wanted to share it again.