Eva Carlston Academy (2011-present) Salt Lake City, UT
Residential Treatment Center
History and Background Information
Eva Carlston Academy is a behavior-modification program that opened in 2011. It is marketed as a Residential Treatment Center for teenage girls aged 12-18. ECA states that they treat girls with a history of the following: Depression, Anxiety, Defiance & behavioral issues, ADHD, Learning issues, Emerging personality disorders, Self-harm, Addictions, Eating disorders, Suicidal ideation, Substance abuse, Autism spectrum disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Trauma, Low self esteem, Adoption and attachment issues, Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, among others. Eva Carlston Academy does not accept transgender residents. It has a maximum enrollment of 44, and the average length of stay is reported to be around 12 months.
The program is located at 4943 Wasatch Blvd, Salt Lake City, UT 84124. The campus contains three houses, in which anywhere from 12 to 16 girls live. Eva Carlston became a NATSAP member in 2015. However, as of 2021, it appears that ECA is no longer a member of this organization.
Founders and Notable Staff
Kristi Ragsdale is the Founder and Executive Director of Eva Carlston Academy. She began her career in the TTI working as a Family First Specialist at Utah Youth Village. She later became the Program Director at Uinta Academy. In 2010, she began working at Solstice RTC as the Admissions Director. She currently still works as the Executive Director of Eva Carlston.
Sue Johansen-Hoffman is the Clinical Director of Eva Carlston Academy. She previously worked for various treatment programs. In 2005, she began working as a Therapist at Uinta Academy. She left Uinta in 2005 to work as a Therapist at Solstice RTC, before leaving to work at Eva Carlston.
Rick Jackson worked as a Psychiatrist at Eva Carlston. He had previously worked as the Medical Director of Island View RTC and later, as the Medical Director of Solstice RTC.
Corrie Norman is the current Academic Director of Eva Carlston. She previously has worked at both Utah Youth Village and Alpine Academy.
Sydney Haga currently works as a Therapist at Eva Carlston Academy. She previously worked as a Team Lead at Solstice RTC.
Like other behavior-modification programs, Eva Carlston Academy uses a level-system. Girls progress through the levels by earning points in a merit/demerit based system. This system has been used in many confirmedly abusive programs, including the notoriously abusive WWASP programs. The level system consists of four levels, the first of which is called “Daily”. The other names of the levels are unknown.
Each resident is required to earn at least 10,000 points per day, which are awarded for good behavior. If a girl at Eva Carlston breaks a rule, she is punished with a demerit. This means that she loses a certain number of points, usually between 2,000 and 20,000. If a resident did not earn at least 10,000 points in a day, they were forbidden from speaking to anybody and were forced to complete worksheets and write essays. They also lose other privileges, such as being able to have a snack in the evening, reading books and writing in their journal.
According to one survivor, “if you didn’t make enough “points” in one day (generally either 10,000 or 5,000 depending on level in the program), you had to sit in a silent room working on essays such as “the importance of managing anxiety” and “the importance of accepting no” or making what were essential pro and cons lists on dealing with inane situations. you wouldn’t be allowed to speak to anyone, read a book, write in your journal, or do anything except silently work on assignments and ask for more. everyone was punished for crying, especially if you cried when punished. if you started crying when they gave you negative points, they would progressively increase the number you got. so first, -2000 points, then an additional -5000, then -10000, then -50000. it was horrible. i was so brainwashed by the end that i would habitually thank the staff for punishing me because crying is apparently “manipulation” that had to be beaten out of me. it was never an appropriate time to express any emotion that wasn’t submissive obedience.”
Contact with the outside world is severely limited at Eva Carlston. All incoming and outgoing mail is reportedly monitored and censored by staff. In addition, the limited phone call time that each girl is given to call her parents is also highly monitored, and girls risk losing their phone call “privileges” if they mention anything negative about the program (or as ECA calls it, “manipulation” attempts).
According to one survivor, the daily schedule is as follows:
- 7am: Residents are given 20 minutes to wake up, make their bed, have all 4 roommates get dressed, get cleaning supplies to Windex mirror, Clorox toilet, sweep/mop floor, Clorox spray sinks, take out trash, have someone check it off to make sure it is acceptable
- 7:20-7:30am: Residents are given 10 minutes to eat breakfast
- If you have laundry chore then you start laundry.
- If you have after meal clean up you sweep/mop all wood floor, vacuum both rugs, wash dishes, clear and spray counters, have someone check it off to make sure it is acceptable.
- 7:30-7:40 am: leave for workout
- 8-9 am: workout
- 9:15-9:30am: all roommates must change and one must get in the shower before school for 5 or less minutes
- 9:30-10:40am: school
- 10:40- 10:55am: break, eat snack, use bathroom
- If you have vacuum chores you must vacuum both staircases and rugs in dining rooms
- If you have laundry chore then you switch laundry
- 10:55- 12 pm: finish first half of school
- 12- 1pm: lunch
- If you have meal clean up you do the same chores above after breakfast however, there are more items to clean
- 1-2pm: group therapy (must participate or negative points)
- 2-2:30pm: break, eat snack, if you do not have privileges then you need to be doing therapy work or “no priv work” and not talk to anyone or else consequence
- If you have vacuum chores, vacuum both rugs
- 2:30-5pm: part 2 of school
- 5-5:30pm: total up point cards (add positive and subtract negatives, if total is miscalculated you get -2000 points), journal
- 5:30-6pm: chores to be completed in 15-20 min where it would take a normal person around 45-60 minutes, have it checked off by time limit or else consequence
- 6-6:30pm: dinner (- points if napkin is not on lap, interrupting, laughing too loud, not talking enough, etc)
- 6:30-7pm: clean up
- 7-8:30pm: free time (privs = go to basement if staff can take you or be in school room doing no priv work in silence)
- 8:30-8:45pm: medications (must be silent or doing no priv work)
- 8:45-9pm: family meeting in basement (legs must be flat on the couch feet must be on floor, no interrupting, no looking distracted, no “inappropriate feedback” or else negative points)
- 9-9:30pm: hygiene, if privileges then night snack
- 9:30-10pm: quiet time (must be silent or -5000 points)
- 10pm: lights out
Eva Carlston Academy is reported by many survivors to be an abusive program. Among these allegations include claims of emotional/verbal abuse, attack therapy, forced manual labor, isolation/solitary confinement, humiliation techniques, and more. LGBTQ+ residents are reportedly not accepted there, and are forced to stay silent about their seuxality. In addition, it is reported that transgender residents are purposefully misgendered.
There is an active petition calling for Utah CPS to investigate Eva Carlston Academy for abuse. The description of the petition reads, “Girls under 18 and younger are signed away to Eva Carlston Academy, a residential treatment center that supposedly helps girls with addiction, eating disorders, depression, mood disorders and other mental health or behavioral issues. However girls who arrive there are emotionally and psychologically abused by staff and directors. They are underfed or sometimes force fed to the point of nausea. They are told they are sluts, worthless and prohibited from speaking their mind, or standing up for themselves. They are sometimes prohibited from speaking to anyone or from using the bathroom at times. They are punished regularly. They are in constant states of fear and are threatened often. The staff are inconsistent yet girls are punished if they don’t adhere to all the staff’s expectations. Therapists are in and out, and staff are fired if they show empathy or sympathy to the girls. Girls are not allowed to speak about anything relating to struggles or injustices ever. They are silenced as they are abused. Girls can be restricted from contacting parents or anyone outside of Eva for months, and cannot talk in private to their parents, so they are not able to disclose their abuse till they have left the facility. Girls can be isolated from all their peers and sentenced to rooms alone with staff. Girls are not allowed to leave the house unless they are awarded to, which happens rarely, and they are never allowed to be without the abusive staff. Girls are shunned and shit on in group therapies. Confidentiality does not exist, girls will disclose to their therapists about something and will be punished for it. After girls are allowed to leave Eva Carlston Academy they are often worse than when they got there. They suffer from severe PTSD, drug use, depression and eating disorders from the abuse at the hands of Eva Carlston. Please sign this petition to investigate and hopefully shut down Eva. Girls are still suffering there and need your help. Save a life from abuse from Eva. Please.”
1/2/2021: (SURVIVOR) “Place isn’t helpful for anybody I know and I was there for more than a year. I’ve seen a lot of girls come in and out, never got better, only worse. Don’t send your kid here please.” – Lucia (Google Reviews)
1/1/2021: (SURVIVOR) “Nightmares and panic attacks are commonplace among my friends after having left. No matter how girls who were there behaved, they left with regrets. The girls who spoke out against the program regretted doing so because it lengthened their stay and lead to shaming and being ostracized, while girls who cooperated felt like they lost themselves because they weren’t speaking their truth. To me, this demonstrates how this place is toxic from top to bottom – the only way girls could feel like no matter how they behaved they were doing something wrong is if the treatment center operates around shaming them. Communication with parents is restricted and constantly monitored – I’ve seen and heard of girls doing things like self-harm and starving themselves just to be able to go to the hospital so they could tell their parents the truth about how they were being treated without fear of repercussions.” – Anonymous (Niche)
1/1/2021: (SURVIVOR) “I have attended ECA twice. I must speak my truth even if this comment is deleted my Kristi Ragsdale . I am not against treatment and it is a great tool but ECA drove me further into my mental health issues. An example is when we were taken to a mortuary and there was a cremation happening, I cried since it brought lots of emotion and just was an inappropriate activity to bring a ton of depressed teenagers too but instead of support I got a consequence in negatives on a behavioral point card. There are many more examples but I hope this movement keeps happening where other girls and parents speak up about the real truth.” – Hannah (Google Reviews)
11/24/2020: (EX-STAFF) “Hi, I’m previous staff at this institution. I only lasted about a month because of how absolutely awful it was. Anyone who attended, I am so deeply sorry. I started at the same time a few girls were admitted to the wasatch house, and just want to passively make sure they are okay since we connected and the rest of the staff was rather cruel to them. If anyone who was there August/September 2018 feels comfortable reaching out to me I would really appreciate it.” – u/KindlyOpportunity817 (Reddit)
October 2020: (PARENT) “This pertains to our daughter’s 4 month stay at Eva Carlston Academy located in Salt Lake City, Utah. After researching this facility we had the impression this would be a nurturing and supportive environment for our child to continue her growth and development as she was exhibiting depression and anxiety. She was supposed to attend for 12 months, however after 4 months spent at this facility we saw how it significantly impacted her in a negative and damaging way, so we decided to remove her from the program. When we originally researched the facility we believed the intention of the program was to give girls an intimate sense of home as well as access to the cultural resources and opportunities of a large city. In this family-style setting we were told the girls learn a strength-based approach to skill building, problem solving and emotional regulation, social-skills development, and preparation for independent living. However, we later learned that faculty instituted the rules and the use of point cards in a negative way. There was a significant focus on negative consequences where punishment was the cornerstone; this is not the type of program a depressed and anxious child should be subjected to. All correspondence and conversations with family are monitored heavily and any complaining to parents leads to a heavy negative consequence. In order to refrain from receiving these negative consequences our daughter felt she had to hide her feelings and couldn’t open up and be honest about her emotional state. The fact that our daughter was not allowed to express herself, robbed us from the opportunity to remove her from this extreme and abusive program. The dietary restrictions they place on these girls is not healthy. They strictly measure every serving of food and also force the girls to eat everything on their plates at each meal or they will receive negative consequences. They are given a very short amount of time to eat the food given, which often times causes them to vomit due to this added stress; again this results in another negative consequence. Snacks are given based upon your daily score card results and often leads to girls going to bed hungry and being malnourished due to the lack of food. These restrictions can very easily cause eating disorders with a child not being able to feed her body properly and ignoring natural hunger signals as it needs nourishment during these developmental years. The staff comes across as uncaring and inhumane given the fact that these girls are intimidated and punished for showing any sign of emotion. The focus is on severe negative consequences instead of positive reinforcement. The girls are even given rules about when they are allowed to use the restroom as if they can control when their body needs to be relieved. There were some therapeutic benefits, but they were by far outweighed by the emotional abuse, intimidation, and extreme conditions. I strongly regret sending my daughter to this facility and am emotionally distraught as I watch my daughter continue to be traumatized by this center.” – Tara (Google Reviews)
September 2020: (PARENT) “Our daughter was a resident at Eva Carlston Academy. This program appears to be terrific but our daughter came out of the program deeply traumatized. This is a punishment based program, to an extreme. The students are consistently underfed (our daughter was rail thin upon graduation and developed an eating disorder after learning to ignore her hunger signals for a year). The educational component is mediocre. Some therapists were good but the milieu was profoundly harmful and deeply negative. The students live in a constant state of fear and don’t tell their parents the truth because they are afraid of further punishment.” – Anonymous (Niche)
8/27/2020: (EX-STAFF) “I am a former employee of Eva Carlston Academy. I had to quit after only a short time because of the cruelty I witnessed there. The girls are away from their families and in a very vulnerable time of their lives.The school tries to give them discipline, but ultimately it is a cold, cruel system of punishment that I believe severely damages the children psychologically. The strict environment encourages deceit and division in the houses. The girls cannot tell their parents what is really happening there without consequences. The children are underfed. They were so desperate for food, and part of punishment involved not receiving snacks/additional food. The rest of the staff seemed to really enjoy punishing the girls and enjoyed the power. The staff seemed more like prison guards. I felt so bad for the girls. They were treated like criminals and the worst was always assumed about their actions. Most of them needed love, affection, and attention (in my opinion). This is the opposite of what they received there. If any former ECA students see this, know that I am so sorry for what you went through and for any role I played in it. I tried to refuse to take away points or participate in the discipline, but they made it a necessary part of the job. Hence, I quit after only about a month. It broke my heart to see what you all went through. I felt so much love for you all and I really hope your life improved after that horrible experience. I am posting here and on other places in hopes of preventing other parents from sending their children here.” – u/sigurlily (Reddit)
August 2020: (SURVIVOR) “Over a year ago, I willingly came into this program depressed, anxious, and suffering from an eating disorder and dissociative identity disorder (the latter was, at the time, undiagnosed) — no behavioral problems. Despite the fact that the program was created to help adolescents with behavioral issues, I was forced to stay for an entire year. The program manipulated my parents into trusting them over their own daughter. I have seen girls ask staff for emotional support and be rejected, being told that there were more important things for the student to do. I have gotten in trouble for having a panic attack when I should have been doing chores. The staff’s job is to keep us safe, and emotional safety is just as important as physical safety, especially in a mental health program. The only part of this program that was helpful was the individual therapy. The rest of it was not only unhelpful for me but harmful and traumatic.” – Anonymous (Niche)
8/6/2020: (SURVIVOR) “hi so i went to eva carlston and got pulled my 82nd day. it was my first treatment center and gave me a horrific view on the treatment world. if you’re not going to read this long ass paragraph, just please listen to these next three things. one, DO NOT SEND YOUR CHILD HERE. second, eva carlston makes themselves look great for the first hmm maybe first month then hides the mistreatment. third, this place caused me mental and emotional abuse and many other girls also. so I’m going to start from my first day at eva. so i went into eva on November 22nd which was a Friday. okay so me and my mom toured eva the day i intaked. the whole ass welcome comity was there and made it looked perfect. Eva is in Salt Lake City, Utah and my brother lives in Perry, Utah which is just minutes away. so i went into Eva on November 22nd which was a Friday. on Fridays (and sometimes thursdays) we went on outings. my first out was going to a hockey game which was the most fun one I ever went to. but the other outings we went on were going to symphonies, art galleries, walking around the ginormous mormon church in downtown salt lake, and sometimes if we were lucky going to hockey games. okay. a teenager doesn’t want to go to a symphony or art gallery, let alone a teenager that is in a fucking treatment center. oh also on saturdays we either did photography, acting at SLAC, or volunteer work(shoveling, intense cleaning, taking down christmas lights. work that could easily be paid for) at This is The Place (Kristi Ragsdale’s rich friends’ wedding venue.) okay sorry I got off track, this place is just so f-ed up I just keep on thinking of more things I want to mention. okay so drum roll please, the “Skills Card.” ah yes. the skills card. the most disciplining, most strict, and unhumane piece of cardstock I have ever seen. so when you get there, you’re on the daily level, it’s the first level of four. You have to make 10,000 points day. to earn your privileges, (dessert, listening to music, socialize, watch tv, having free time) so if you didn’t have your privs, you have to do SODAs. SODAs stand for situation, options, disadvantages, advantages. so an example would be (a “family teacher gave me this once which triggered me extremely because I am a victim of rape) you’re alone with a boy and he tries getting in your pants. so I had to come up with three options, disadvantages and advantages. I was taking a longer time that was normal for me and the girl said let me see and snatched my paper and then our interaction ended in -2,000 points because I was taking too long. WHATV THE FUCK. okay there are so many fucked up things in that equation. okay let’s just try to move right along. so you could earn positive points by following instructions. you could earn a whole 500 points by saying okay then doing the task you were told to do then check back ( just saying you completed it). whipee! also you could earn 500 points by “accepting no.” so say if you asked if you really needed to pee, and the staff told you no, you then had to wait 15-20 minutes to “disagree appropriately.” (which could earn you 500 points if you did it “appropriately”) so at that point I usually pissed my pants a little bit and could’ve gotten a UTI for all the times they made me wait. so yeah. sorry got a little off track again. so you got 250 points for doing your room chore, house chore, and workout. for all chores we had every single room white glove tested and if it wasn’t clean… goes what!!! you earn a -2,000 points. what a joke. oh story time, so a girl got on focus system which is like a major consequence. it’s like a weird subtraction system that I never got on and it never made sense to me. so the girl got on focus because on her visit she and her dad lost each other. she then didn’t run or anything she just had an anxiety attack and searched and searched for the majority of the time of her visit. WHAT THE HECK DUDE!!!! this place is psychotic. she didn’t mean to lose her dad. she did everything in her power to try to find her dad. okay so in school you could get consequences for getting below a 70% on a quiz / test. so I have severe ADHD. like I literally have 504 plan for it. I think I failed every single test there except maybe three because they wouldn’t listen to me about my way of learning. only I truly know my way of learning. so yeah if I would’ve stayed there for the rest of my junior year then senior year I would have failed all my classes no doubt about it. I really wonder if any of those teachers have college degrees in the classes they were teaching us let alone college degrees at all. okay let’s talk about the food situation here. going into eva, I had a very normal diet. I was on the slimmer side of normal. at the end of Eva I had severe issues with food. I remember the day my mom came to pick me up, we went to iceberg and I got a huge shake and probably drank it down within five minutes. at eva when we went to costco (i only got to go once my whole stay), we got food with serving sizes that ranged from 10-13. we had 13 teenage girls and 3 staff at the house I was at. as low as 10 serving size or 13 is NOT ENOUGH FOR 16 PEOPLE!!!! when you are teenager your appetite goes up and down and having a growling tummy when you go bed at night is a really shitty thing to have. also with girls there with severe eating disorders, they need the proper food intake. eva carlston restricted food for girls that had problems with restricting so since the program was restricting for them, they didn’t have to. okay last big part of this. mental health!!! so I went into Eva with depression, anxiety, ptsd and a tiny bit of substance abuse. the first night at Eva I started having persecutory delusions. (which was caused by my rape but sparked by large amount of intense anxiety) I experienced them the whole 82 days I was there experienced them and the intensity increased. so I told my closed friend about the delusions and then it eventually got spread across the house and everyone was treating me like I was crazy which I was already treating myself like that. then I told my therapist I was experiencing these things and she gave me the same look everyone else was giving me. she then put me on arms because I told her I was a harm to myself and she thought I needed the extra support. arms is when a staff is key word= SUPPOSED to be arms length away from you at all times. they constantly left me and went into the other room and sometimes even got mad at me for not following me even though I didn’t know they were leaving me and it was there fucking job to watch me not my job to follow them around. okay so all in all. the only good things I got out of Eva was a few friends and I met a VERY few nice staff. I would like to say thank you to DeAnna, Alex and Hannah if you ever see this. also I would never ever be the person I am right now if I didn’t persevere through all of that bullshit. I can say I am stronger person because of it all because of other programs not because of eva.” – u/kelseycole (Reddit)
5/15/2020: (SURVIVOR) “I was at Eva Carlston back in 2013. I am 25 now and this place still causes me extreme emotional distress. I was in a juvenile detention center before ECA and I can honestly say I got treated better there and had more rights. While at ECA, I was shamed for my drug addiction and forced to read aloud to a group of girls the details of my rape and sexual abuse. I was still in the process of reporting this to the police. I told staff I wasn’t ready to talk about it and it caused me flashbacks. I got in severe trouble and was forced to sit in the basement every night for weeks writing essays about what I did “wrong”. The staff make girls work out every day, yet don’t feed us enough food. My stomach was constantly grumbling and I lost maybe 15 pounds while I was there. If a girl is underweight, they don’t allow her to eat more food, they force her to drink ensures while she’s crying. If you do get lucky enough to go on an outing, you’ll get severe punishments for even looking in the same direction of a male. If you so happen to make eye contact with a random boy, you’ll be forced to write essays in the basement about it for weeks or months. This type of cruel punishment made my anxiety triple. When I left ECA my eating disorder had never been worse. I couldn’t make eye contact with a male for years without feeling fear. I was constantly scared of getting in trouble for every thing I did. Constantly living in fear. Constant anxiety. I remember I had terrible eczema while I was there (due to high stress). When I would sleep, I would scratch my skin to the point where it was bleeding and I had scars on my back. I pleaded staff to please get me lotion for my eczema and I got in trouble. They told me I was asking for “special” privileges. They made me sleep with socks on my hands and refused to take me to a dermatologist. 6 months later I finally talked to my mom about it on a phone call. I got in severe trouble for going against the rules and acting out. My mom kept calling the program begging them to take me to a dermatologist. After months of begging, they finally said they would take a picture and send it to my mom. One staff member took a picture of my back. My skin was ruined and bloody and scarred. They finally took me to a doctor and the dermatologist prescribed lotion that would’ve helped. But staff wouldn’t let me have it. They locked it in a closet and never let me use it. I left ECA with scars on my skin from this. I also had my wisdom teeth removed while I was at ECA. This was horrifying to say the least. Staff promised that they would get me a smoothie after my surgery. When I was picked up they told me I didn’t “earn” that privilege. They didn’t allow me to take any pain meds or even Advil! I was in extreme pain for a week or two. They didn’t get me any food because they told me they couldn’t go “out of there way” to take care of me. I literally ate apple sauce and yogurt for 2 weeks. When I asked for tofu or soup they got mad at me and I got in trouble. I probably lost 10 pounds in those two weeks. These are just a few examples of what happened to me while I was there. I could write a book about this place. Please don’t send your daughter here. Of course this place is going to do anything they can to get your money. They will lie to you until your daughter is there, you’ve signed over her rights and then you cannot do anything. This place will steal your soul.” – u/Iloveflowersandboobs (Reddit)
April 2020: (SURVIVOR) “Eva Carlston Academy’s website has been carefully designed to depict their residential treatment center as a caring and nurturing environment where teenage girls can feel physically and emotionally safe enough to process and recover from trauma and mental illness. But don’t let their advertising fool you – it’s not. Over a year ago, I willingly came into this program depressed, anxious, and suffering from an eating disorder and dissociative identity disorder (the latter was, at the time, undiagnosed) — no behavioral problems. Despite the fact that the program was created to help adolescents with behavioral issues, I was forced to stay for an entire year. The program manipulated my parents into trusting them over their own daughter. It should be noted that while they advertise that they are able to treat girls with eating disorders, they cannot. There is no formal eating disorder treatment or meal support available to students. In fact, if you refuse to eat or take too much food, you can be punished. You are also punished for exhibiting symptoms of mental illness or emotional distress. I have seen girls ask staff for emotional support and be rejected, being told that there were more important things for the student to do. I have gotten in trouble for having a panic attack when I should have been doing chores. The staff’s job is to keep us safe, and emotional safety is just as important as physical safety, especially in a mental health program (and one for struggling young people, no less!) You might wonder why there are so many positive reviews of this place readily available on the Academy’s website and other places on the internet. If it’s such an ineffective and emotionally damaging program, why do so many reviewers praise it? Eva Carlston is a for-profit business as well as a treatment center, and bad reviews will obviously affect the number of applicants they receive. They only show five-star reviews on the website, and only positive reviews are highlighted in the blurb you see upon searching “Eva Carlston Academy”. I encourage everyone who is considering sending their daughter to ECA to read these negative and exposing reviews that are buried under the many “success stories” that the academy advertises. It is worth noting that many of the positive reviews are from parents, written shortly after their daughters’ discharge from the program. I can’t speak for every graduate, but I have had the privilege to stay in touch with many alumnae, most of whom I was able to get to know quite well at ECA. I have seen many girls, including myself, graduate and very quickly relapse into old, or even new and more severe, behaviors. I have personally had to spend a significant amount of time in therapy processing the trauma I experienced from being emotionally neglected during my time at ECA. The only part of this program that was helpful was the individual therapy. The rest of it was not only unhelpful for me but harmful and traumatic. All of the contact that girls have with the outside world, including with their families, are monitored by staff and therapists, so the girls do not have the opportunity to be honest with parents about what is really happening to them at ECA until after they’ve been discharged. Parents, do not let Eva Carlston Academy manipulate you into sending (or keeping) your daughter there if it’s not a good fit.” – Anonymous (Google Reviews)
April 2020: (SURVIVOR) “Interesting that my review was removed. I’ll post a shorter version of it again because I think it’s crucial that people who care about their children know that this place is traumatic, abusive, and does nothing for the well-being of children. I’m an adult now in my mid 20’s, doing well in life, and happy, thanks to the years of therapy I’ve been through to resolve the trauma and PTSD I gained while at ECA. It is not treatment to be penalized for having chipped nail polish. It is not treatment to be mocked, and berated by staff. It is not okay for staff to look up people’s parents on Facebook and make condescending attacks on a persons family directly to the person’s face. It is not treatment to be forced to lie about one’s experiences because if one says a bad thing about the program one will receive a large consequence for “lying”. Girls were forced to starve themselves because everyone had to take measuring cup servings. Girls were denied social interaction for up to 24 hours or longer (mine lasted almost 6 weeks once) and expected to stay sane. Girls received consequences for crying or expressing their emotions. Children, especially those with mental health issues, often develop these issues because of bullying, trauma, fear, violence etc. it seems that ECA only exacerbated, or created those issues for many students.” – Catherine (Google Reviews)
April 2020: (SURVIVOR) “I find it fitting that all the 5 star ratings are from parents. Makes sense that parents would appreciate the company that relieved them of 12-18 months of parenting responsibilities. As someone who actually lived here, ECA is NOT the haven these reviews paint it to be. Staff are manipulative, condescending, and power hungry. The “rewards system” is punitive and akin to something in a 1st grade classroom. Points are deducted for the smallest, most minor transgressions like leaving a pair of shoes out or having a corner of your bed spread poking out. Save your daughter the trauma of going here. Do NOT send her here. You’re better off putting her into a part time school at home and doing an intensive out patient treatment. Treatment always works better when it’s integrated with real world situations. Treating people in a bubble and then expecting them to survive in the real world is laughable.” – Sofia (Google Reviews)
1/29/2020: (SURVIVOR) “i went to eva carlston for 14 and a half months. When I first got there, there were groups held to basically bash a girl who was not ready to do her work. they rated her every night like she was a yelp review. In a way t was emotionally damaging. Certain staff were very disrespectful but we couldn’t speak up about it because we would get in trouble if we did. After a few months of being there of course I made some life long friends. If we didn’t make a certain amount of points a day we couldn’t talk to people really for 24 hours and we had to sit and write essays. There was and is a girl there that has put other people in danger over and over again wether that be throwing windex at someones head. throwing desks, screaming, throwing a vacuum at someone, throwing pots and pans and telling people to shut up when that is not her place. All the girls felt in danger and the owner. Kristi Ragsdale did not address the situation at all even the therapists let this slip. There were very few staff that genuinely cared and they left because they said there were sketchy things about Eva Carlston they did not want to be around. If you didn’t do something right away you got in trouble and once again you couldn’t speak up about it or you would get in more trouble. we all had to keep our mouths shut in order for anyone to stay safe. Some staff would threaten us with the causes of getting in trouble if we didn’t do something they wanted us too. Aswell as we were force fed. Basically they said we only had to eat 3 meals but then made us eat 6. They said we didn’t have to eat all of our food but when we didn’t we got in trouble and sat there until we did because otherwise we couldn’t do anything. There were interventions people were put on for eating. Someone had to sit next to you while you ate to make sure that you finished ALL of it even though you were not required too. We were stuck in the house every single day expect for maybe a couple hours on saturday and like an hour on friday. We weren’t aloud to have access to TV, Phone calls, Dessert, free time if we got in trouble, like I said we had to sit in a room and not talk to anybody and write essays because if we didn’t they would take control of that in a very awful manipulative way. The whole program is manipulative they use sneaky ways to abuse the power that they have which is disgusting. The therapists are not good and they dont really know what they are talking about. The only time we can speak up is in a group but if we speak up to much then we would probably get in way more trouble and if we spoke up about a certain staff in a group that was it, you were in serious shit. Certain staff had very bad boundaries, very touchy would stay way to close to you and once again you couldnt really say much because they would look at that and say oh thats being disrespectful. I have certain trauma things and there was a staff that would run behind people, pretend to hit people and tell people to shut up. We were forced to do everything and it was horrid. The girls are obviously sneaky becasue who wants a staff up your ass all the time Kristi. I dont. Nobody likes it there. I have watched girls breakdown from staff being mean and staff telling them they keep doing this wrong and that they didn’t do this right and why cant you do that better and go do that now or else. They put so much shit on our shoulders that we cant take. We are to young to be doing all of this. They made us get on our hands and knees to mop their floor when I was only there to figure out my work and why I did the things I did. I wasnt there to clean Kristis fuckin house. Clean your own fuckin house, get some maids, you have the fuckin money. They were sneaky with our money too. there were several times I came back from a homevisit with money and they said they would send it back to my parents and when i asked my parents if it got back to them they said no it was never sent. We got phone calls with our parents for 15 minutes and if we went over they would grab the phone from our hands wether or not we said goodbye. Overall this place is fucking sneaky and staff dont know what the hell they are doing. They pick favorites and basically say screw everyone else. we were not treated like humans, we were treated dogs. We were told to just say Okay and sit there like a fucking dog. Its disgusting.” – u/paris_stone (Reddit)
1/11/2019: (SURVIVOR) “I am writing this review as a previous student at Eva Carlston Academy to express how harmful this program can be to a young girl suffering from depression and anxiety. I came to this residential treatment center after completing a wilderness therapy program and this was supposed to help me deal with my feelings and emotions in a positive way during my last year of high school. My parents and I thought I would be mentored and guided with appropriate therapy so I could grow and heal. This was certainly not the case. The nutritional habits they instill are extreme and even opposite of what nutritionists advise. We were required to calculate every serving of food we ate and were very restricted with regards to how much we could have and when. We had to eat every bit of food on our plates in a specified time frame, for example breakfast was required to be finished within 10 minutes including preparation. If we did not eat everything on our plates we were given a severe negative consequence. Often times girls got sick from eating too fast since we had a very strict schedule; again this results in a severe negative consequence. If you do not have enough points on your cards at the end of the night you are not given your night snack. The staff treats the girls abusively with extreme amounts of intimidation. We were given points every day and the amount of points you could earn from doing positive things were so low in comparison to the severe negative consequences you received (usually -5000). For example you receive negative points for sharing negative opinions, being upset about a previous consequence, and showing emotion after therapy. However if no emotion is shown after therapy you are rewarded with positive points. We were instructed to always accept staff giving feedback to us but we were not allowed to give feedback to staff because they felt this was our way of telling a staff member how to do their job. They highly monitor social calls so we had no privacy to express our true feelings with family. This led to severe emotional harm as I was restricted in telling my parents what I was experiencing and was manipulated to hold it in. We were told to change the topic if it sounded like we were complaining or being negative. Many of us would simply go to bed as soon as we were allowed in order to avoid staff confrontation. I often cried myself to sleep at night out of fear. If you needed to be sent to a different floor of the house a staff screams out to another staff member. Usually they are busy and don’t respond right away so you have to wait. Often you would then be late to wherever you were going, which resulted in you receiving a minimum negative consequence of -5000. I found it very strange that we were not allowed to wear slippers in the house unless you had a medical problem, even in the winter. When we went swimming we were forced to leave in wet swimsuits with wet hair because there was no time to change. We were given no choice with regards to the daily workout; we were forced to participate in the preselected program or we would receive negative consequences. If you ever disagreed with a consequence you were asked to wait 10-15 minutes to “disagree appropriately.” You must start with a statement like “I understand,” give an empathy statement, re- state what they said to you, and then accept their decision. You must accept it even if you strongly disagree. Our bathroom breaks were monitored and you were not allowed to use the restroom until at least one hour after a meal. One day a girl had asked several times to use the restroom but was denied. Eventually she ran to the restroom and urinated in her pants on the way because she had to go so badly. With regards to the schooling, there were more negative points given for bad grades than positive points when good grades were achieved. We received very little to no support regarding college readiness or planning. Often staff would pull us from school/classes to do yard work and shoveling. There was no follow up with our parents after therapy appointments so they had no clue about our medical/mental health. Therapists would raise medications due to specific situations. For instance, if you get annoyed or frustrated with a staff member for the way they treat you they try to resolve the behavior by giving you more medication. It is very scary forced to increase powerful psychological medications for expressing feelings or having a bad day, not for diagnosis purposes. This so called treatment center was a controlled environment that demoralized, demeaned, intimidated and caused emotional harm to me. I actually continue to have nightmares and anxiety specifically from my experience at Eva Carlston. Whatever therapeutic benefit there was, was trumped by the emotional abuse and cruel treatment as mentioned above. This was supposed to be a safe place, a therapeutic environment. Not an emotional prison that injected fear and intimidation.” – u/fortlauderdale_ (Reddit)
12/27/2018: (SURVIVOR) “I spent 11 months at Eva Carlston Academy. It was the worse 11 months of my life. Eva Carlston treats mental health like a gardener treats a dandelion/weed. Except Eva Carlston Academy punishes the gardener for months and brainwashes them into thinking the dandelion is a flower instead of a weed. Then when the gardener leaves they slowly realize that the flower is a weed and the weeds have spread. And the sad part part about Eva Carlston is that everyone who works there thinks that everything they do is in the interest of the girls. But its so emotionally abusive. I left Eva Carlston in August of 2016 and I am still working through the PTSD that I have from that place. Being told every single day that doing your best isn’t enough and you will never be enough takes a toll. I once lost the right to free time, hanging out with friends, and talking because my pant zipper was down. What the fuck?” – u/qwerty1357910 (Reddit)
11/18/2018: (SURVIVOR) “if you didn’t make enough “points” in one day (generally either 10,000 or 5,000 depending on level in the program), you had to sit in a silent room working on essays such as “the importance of managing anxiety” and “the importance of accepting no” or making what were essential pro and cons lists on dealing with inane situations. you wouldn’t be allowed to speak to anyone, read a book, write in your journal, or do anything except silently work on assignments and ask for more. everyone was punished for crying, especially if you cried when punished. if you started crying when they gave you negative points, they would progressively increase the number you got. so first, -2000 points, then an additional -5000, then -10000, then -50000. it was horrible. i was so brainwashed by the end that i would habitually thank the staff for punishing me because crying is apparently “manipulation” that had to be beaten out of me. it was never an appropriate time to express any emotion that wasn’t submissive obedience. they were ridiculous with their cleaning standards — white glove test, cleaning the whole house with bleach every day, even multiple times a day, plus a “deep clean” once a week. they would give us as little time as possible to complete chores as well, often easily as little as 15 minutes to meet white glove standards. i am also queer and anyone who was LGBTQ+ there was not allowed to talk about their orientations because it wasn’t appropriate to discuss it outside of individual therapy, apparently. i left with severe PTSD and a deep wariness of all therapists. and i was sent there for depression and anxiety. i’m sure the more classically “rebellious” teens had it far worse — they were the ones who got restrained, and that was horrible enough to witness. i can’t imagine how horrible it would be to go through. i was forced twice to take my clothes off and let staff inspect my naked body though. amusingly, they would threaten us that if we didn’t obey, we would “be sent to a lockdown facility.” however, eva carlston academy IS a lockdown facility. all the doors were locked with codes and the windows had alarms that would go off if ever opened, and more beyond that.  honestly, i downplayed the stuff about lgtbq+ clients. the tactics they pulled bordered on conversion therapy if you didn’t knuckle down and let them shut you up. i had the program director herself privately shame me into silence when i said my emotional safety was being compromised by staff.” – u/terra4468 (Reddit)
8/8/2018: (PARENT) “This review is based on our daughter’s 12 month stay at Eva Carlston Academy in Salt Lake City, Utah. We were referred to this program by a highly-experienced and well-regarded educational consultant. Based on our family’s experience, our educational consultant says she will no longer refer families to this program. From a review of its website and literature, this program looks promising. This impression was reinforced during our tour. Nothing from our visit with the students alerted us to the possibility of harm coming to our child. However, the year our daughter spent at Eva Carlston Academy was significantly damaging and profoundly and negatively impactful to her. ECA bases its campus culture, or “milieu”, on the “Family Teaching Model” made popular by Boys Town. However, this particular implementation of the model is punitive and had a corrosive effect on our daughter. A handful of family teachers were abusive and used shame and humiliation in addition to an extreme focus on “negative consequences”. The girls are punished for complaining and rewarded for reporting other students’ infractions. For these reasons, it is rare for a student to complain about the program for fear of being reported and punished. Letters and phone calls with family are strictly monitored, by rule, and the girls are reprimanded for complaining to parents. To avoid punishment, our child gave us inaccurate descriptions of how she was feeling. Even during unmonitored home visits (later in the year) our daughter did not complain as she was afraid of being punished upon her return to ECA if we had intervened with the program. Our daughter experienced heightened anxiety due to the intense scrutiny and struggled with the constant fear of earning negative consequences. Her anxiety was exacerbated by the negativity and shaming messages inherent to the ECA program. The therapeutic portion of ECA is functionally separate from the daily living milieu and its Family Teaching Model, resulting in a treatment model this is highly compartmentalized. From what we saw, the therapists are not able to influence changes to the daily milieu to advance individual therapies or even promote opinions about activities to which the are opposed. The dietary restrictions at ECA are incomprehensible. All residents are fed a highly low-fat diet with strict portion control. Our daughter lost 15 pounds in the first four months of her time there and she reported feeling extreme hunger every day. She was often lightheaded from hunger and unable to focus in class. Once, when she was nearly faint for lack of food, she begged staff for a snack – the Family Teacher on shift gave her 3 Wheat Thins to assuage her hunger. If a student loses too much weight, she is fed Ensure rather than being allowed to eat more food. Even our daughter’s therapist snuck in food for her to eat during therapy sessions. After a year of learning to ignore hunger signals, our daughter, once a healthy eater of normal weight, left the program with disordered eating. Another girl who graduated with our daughter dropped from a size 6/8 to 00 pants during her time in the program. Not everyone loses so much weight because metabolisms vary. Currently, our daughter is part of a private Facebook group of graduates of Eva Carlston Academy. Many of these students report PTSD-like symptoms including panic attacks and nightmares. I have since learned that the Eva Carlston model was created for treating manipulative, lying girls and I do not know the efficacy of the program for that population. I do know Eva Carlston was deeply harmful to our depressed, anxious child. I have made a formal complaint to the Utah State Department of Licensing. Mine is not the only complaint that they have received about ECA. If you want to learn more or to make a formal complaint about your experience, or your child’s experience, you can reach them by calling: 801/538-4242. I write this review in hopes of reaching parents who are considering sending their depressed, anxious daughters to this program. This program left our child with deep scars, and she is currently undergoing specialized trauma-focused therapy to process and heal from her experience. And, our family is undergoing intensive family therapy for the same reasons.” – u/parentingtaco (Reddit)
2018: (SURVIVOR) “It’s a damaging program based on a behavior/point system that has been proven not to work. I speak from my own experience and as someone in college studying psychology. I’ve also spoken to licensed therapists and they all agreed that the system they use is ineffective. I would never send my child here. However, I doubt anyone there currently will tell you the truth because you get in trouble for doing so. I am now almost 22 and still dealing with the after effects of this program. The heightened anxiety caused by the program itself is absolutely unnecessary and counter productive for traumatized girls already suffering. I will say that staff there(not including the owner and founder, Kristi Ragsdale) are mainly caring people, but they can’t help when the entire program is behavior based.” – Hannah (Google Reviews)
4//3/2016: (SURVIVOR) “I don’t even know where to begin with this place. I went to this residential treatment center for adolescent girls called Eva Carlston and if you don’t want to read the rest of this post just DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT GOING THERE! After being very suicidal my parents felt there was no other option but to send me to wilderness…yadda yadda I actually enjoyed wilderness believe it or not but then I found out I wasn’t going to just go right back home for my senior year of high school(I was on a 3 time national champion varsity cheer squad mind you) but that I was going to an ALL GIRLS RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT FACILITY WOOHOO!! I wanted to keel over and die. It was supposed to be my golden year, I had missed junior prom to go to wildy, I was about to have my 18th birthday, finally go to prom that I had somehow missed every year, and soak up all the final moments with my best friends before heading off to college….HAAHA what a fucking joke. Instead I was shipped off to good old home of the Mormon’s Salt Lake City to what i was soon to discover as hell on earth, that’s right, you guessed it, Eva Carlston Academy!! I was pleasantly surprised to see the house I was staying in was all 17-18 year Olds and the house was downright gorgeous and modern, the view was incredible blah blah blah oh and the staff were all somehow all well put together and pretty!! Little did I know it was part of Kristi Ragsdale’s elaborate scheme to reel in all of the wealthiest “troubled teens” she could and make it seem like there was no possible way of any kind of abuse going on at her facilities. well this place was a fucking nightmare from day one. I had four hours of sleep the first day I got there because my luggage was lost in the airport and they wouldn’t let me just fucking lie down because apparently a staff needed to be watching you on every floor of the three story stupid fucking house unless you were on the last phase of the program and you could just go to whatever floor you pleased….yeah LAST PHASE. There were 4 phases: Daily-you were treated like the equivalent of garbage Weekly 1-You were treated like a soft serve piece of shit Weekly 2-treated like a 10 year old child Achievement-congrats you get freedom but you can easily fuck it up if you leave your sweater on the dining room table then instead of getting to use your monitored computer time for 20 minutes you’ll only get it for 10 minutes! But youre usually about a week or two from graduating at this point anyway so who gives a shit? As an 18 year old ADULT…I WAS LIVING MY LIFE DEPENDING ON HOW MANY POINTS I GOT ON A FLAT CARDSTOCK PIECE OF FUCKING PAPER SO THAT MAYBE IF I MADE ENOUGH POINTS THAT DAY FOR DOING GOOD THINGS I COULD HAVE MY “PRIVILEGES” for the night and get to eat night snack which was a single serving portion of whatever was planned. If it was reeses pieces you got a fourth cup of reeses pieces and that was it. That was all the food they gave you after eating serving size portions of food for dinner which was at 5 pm. So if you didn’t make your privileges you ate at 5pm and didn’t get to eat until breakfast at 7:45 the next day! yay!! We ate like fucking rabbits because if you overdid your portion sizes you would get a big fat CONSEQUENCE. Oh yippee now I get to talk about how consequences on your point card were worth 4 good actions!! A consequence was -2000 points on the daily level and those consequences were given for things like forgetting your water bottle for morning workout, not opening your blinds in your room in the morning, not making your bed neat enough, having holes in your socks, the list of minute stupid tiny little baby fucking joke bad things you could get a consequence for goes on and on. You got 500 points for every good thing you did like going to workout in the morning, raising your hand in school, introducing yourself to someone new, doing your room chore in the morning(holy shit I need to come back to that part later wowwwza). You needed to make 10000 points by 5 pm every day….do the math. One little fuck up and youre toast! no “Privs” for you! Privileges at Eva Carlston were given based on your phase and whether you made enough points that day. Get this- Taking a nap was a privilege, reading a book was a privilege, listening to your ipod was a privilege, interacting with other girls was a privilege, taking samples at Costco if you were one of the 2 that were invited to grocery shop once a week was a privilege, watching TV even if it was on right in front of you was a privilege, putting on makeup was a privilege, shaving your legs was a privilege, taking longer than 15 minutes to get ready was a privilege. I am in no way shape or form exaggerating about this stuff. This was my fucking reality not too long ago. Every day I counted my card every 5 minutes and brainstormed constantly about how I was going to make enough points for the day so I could eat an extra 100 calories or so after dinner and chat nervously with my friends. When I say this place was a nightmare…it was a motherfucking nightmare on steroids. I was constantly so stressed to the point of tears and actually wanting to rip my hair out but never did because then they would put you on this special subtraction system where you would be so many hundred thousand points in the negatives depending on what terrible thing you did which was typically for most girls about self harm or yelling at someone. It was shameful and miserable. If you self harmed they made you sleep on a fucking camping cot in the living room with the full overhead lights on with a staff right next to you. Oh and even if you weren’t on “sub system” if you had to take a midnight piss, you would have to get a staffs attention and ask and wait for a response and then go pee after they felt they were at a comfortable distance to be aware of where you were or some shit. After I got my parents to come visit me for 3 days after not seeing them for 5 months. I finally told them everything and they were outraged. I had lost about 10 pounds since wilderness and I’ve never been overweight, always stuck to a solid 116 give or take a few pounds but after Eva Carlston I was 108 pounds at 5’1″. Every phone call I was allowed which was only once a week for 15 minutes, I couldn’t tel. Them anything but what had happened the past week and if I dared talk about the program in a negative way I would get a hefty 5000 NEGATIVE points which was half of what I needed to make every day to get my privileges. Towards the end, close to when my parents finally had it and scooped me all the way from Texas, things got really fucking weird. They tried to tell me that my parents were going to disown me if I tried to sign myself out and that I would have to live in a homeless shelter where I would probably get raped(no shit though SLC had a nasty homeless population) and that I had been lied to all along about turning 18 and being able to sign myself out. They told me that if I took a step out the front door that they could restrain me on the ground like wtf well I wasn’t going to try that and look like a lunatic. Then I asked to speak to the authorities and they told me I would have to find a phone which there were none and they told me I couldn’t leave sooo wtf again. my parents had to demand a private phone call with me to find out all the freaky shit that was going on and even during my so called private phone call there was this psycho staff that came in and told me if I didn’t hang up that she would physically take the phone from me even though I had permission and yeah that still makes no sense to me. My last night before my parents picked me up I went “out of instructional control” which means i got 50,000 negatives for not doing something they asked of me for once. Which was to write down a consequence for asking when I could pack my bags(yes the night before they would still not allow me access to my luggage to pack) so I walked upstairs without asking, to my bedroom and started reading a book and ignoring the staff trying to tell me to write down numbers on a fuck piece of cardstock. After a while I just plugged my ears and tried to sleep and this one staff started singing right next to me and tapping her foot on the wall to try and get a rise out of me so I put a pillow over my head and she left me a lone. Well then I realized I was starving so I did the worst thing I had ever done while at ECA…I went downstairs without asking to the pantry without asking and got my box of honey graham Ohs I bought with my points at the convenient store run and i took them upstairs without asking and ate them in my bed. Oh and i flipped them off when the staff told me I was out of instructional control and somehow that translated to my education consultant to my parents as me “screaming fuck you!” hahahaa this place was a fucking joke. Oh yeah and after I left something similar happened to a girl who got there around the same time as me who struggled with trigatalomania and they wouldn’t let her leave, restrained her because she didn’t want to get a buzzcut to fix her patchy hair, and put her on subtraction system the whole time she was there because of a disease she CANNOT HELP! Another friend that left while I was there is suing for child abuse and neglect so there is definitely shit going down with this program and it is just a matter of time but don’t believe the fake shit they try and say on their website about the art and the music….its a crock of shit because most of the time you cant even finish your art because of therapy or family therapy and youre always rushing because its anxiety central Just existing in that environment and forget music lessons because if you want those they cost money and they take away from school and you are forced to practice whatever instrument it is every other day and if you actually enjoy playing well then you have to have your fucking privileges… I want to start a hate blog on this place so badly because I am about to graduate this amazing program for adults that has changed my life and was in no way similar to Eva Shitshow Academy’s approach for good reason. I feel so sad that there are girls who are stuck there for years because they are still considered minors. I just want to get this out there because I don’t really hear anything bad about ECA on the internet and people need to know the truth before losing months and years of their lives to this traumatizing facility called “treatment”. If anyone has any questions please don’t hesitate to ask! Believe it or not there was a lot I couldn’t even cover because I’m typing on an LG tablet and the autocorrect is driving me too crazy to go back and edit and add more for now” – u/RosesSmellNice (Reddit)
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