Island View RTC (1994-2014) Syracuse, UT
Residential Treatment Center
History and Background Information
Island View RTC was an Aspen Education Group behavior-modification program which opened in 1994. It was marketed as a Residential Treatment Center for teenagers aged (13-17) with a history of one or more of the following: “emotional and behavioral challenges, clinical depression, attention challenges, substance abuse/dependency, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality features, bipolar symptoms, and other associated psycho-behavioral concerns.” The average length of stay was reported to be between 7 and 12 months, but it was usually much longer. Island View had a maximum enrollment of 115 teenagers, and the tuition was at least $10,000 per month. Island View was a member of NATSAP since 1999.
The program was located at 2650 West 2700 South Syracuse , Davis County , Utah 84075, which is the current location of “Elevations RTC“, which is in actuality the rebrand of Island View. It was located right next door to the Aspen Institute for Behavioral Assessment, which has since also been rebranded as Viewpoint Center under Family Help & Wellness.
Island View RTC is still currently operating under the name Elevations RTC. In 2014, Aspen Education Group sold Island View to Family Help & Wellness following several lawsuits filed against IV alleging various claims of abuse and neglect. With this, Island view was “closed”, which in reality meant that its name was changed to Elevations and it was immediately reopened. However, it is important to note that this change in ownership is entirely superficial, as Family Help & Wellness is a company created by former employees and executives of Aspen Education Group in order to rebrand their more notorious programs. In fact, the Founder and CEO of Family Help & Wellness, Tim Dupell, formerly worked as the CFO and Vice President of Aspen Education Group. Besides the name, nothing else about the program’s actual structure was changed in the slightest. In fact, 39 of the 48 employees listed on Elevations’ website had previously worked for Island View.
Founders and Notable Staff
Jared Balmer is one of the founders of Island View, and worked there as the Executive Director. He began his career by co-founding the Rivendell Psychiatric Hospital, which was an extremely abusive facility that is known to have practiced extreme forms of conversion therapy. He later helped open several other Aspen Education Group programs, including the Oakley School and the Aspen Institute For Behavioral Assessment, which was a branch of Island View. In 2006, he was the recipient of the NATSAP Leadership Award. He is currently the Executive Director of WayPoint Academy, which he helped found in 2013 with Mike Bulloch, who is involved with various Aspen Education Group programs including the Aspen Institute For Behavioral Assessment and the Oakley School.
- Kimball DeLaMare is one of the founders of Island View. He was the previous director of the KIDS of Greater Salt Lake program, which was a reportedly abusive drug treatment program and spin-off of Straight, Inc., that was under investigation in 1989 for allegations of false imprisonment, unlawful detention and assault. Like Jared Balmer, DeLaMare also helped co-found the Aspen Institute For Behavioral Assessment and the Oakley School. In 2004, he was the recipient of the NATSAP Leadership Award. Additional Information about Utah KIDS: Tough Treatment For Problem Juveniles Under Investigation and KIDS PROGRAM FACES NEW CHARGES IN UTAH
Lorin Broadbent is one of the founders of Island View. He was also involved in founding the Oakley School, another Aspen Education Group program.
- Dean Belnap is one of the founder of Island View. He has also worked as a Psychiatrist at Passaged to Recovery, another Aspen Education Group program in Loa, UT.
Rick Jackson previously worked as the Medical Director of Island View. He later worked as the Medical Director of Solstice RTC, which is a program founded by various former Island View staff. He then went on to work as the Medical Director of Eva Carlston Academy.He is the husband of Gay Jackson.
Gay Jackson worked as the Associate Executive Director of Island View. She is the wife of Rick Jackson.
Steven (Steve) Lancaster worked at Island View as the Director of the Therpeutic Milieu. He is reported by survivors to have groomed and later married a former resident at Island View.
Daniel (Dan) Stuart worked as the Director of Therapy Services at Island View. He left Island View in 2008 in order to co-found Solstice RTC only 4 miles down the same road from Island View. He has worked at Solstice in various roles, including as a Therapist and the Executive Director. He stopped working at Solstice around 2016, reportedly due to sexual harassment allegations made against him by another staff member at Solstice.
Parker Keoni Anderson (he goes by “Keoni”) worked as a CD Counsellor at Island View. He left Island View in 2008 in order to co-found Solstice RTC only 4 miles down the same road from Island View. Since its opening, Keoni has worked at Solstice as the Co-Owner/Co-Founder, Substance Abuse Counsellor, and Program Director. He currently works as the Executive Director of Solstice.
Blake Taylor began working at Island View as a Therapist in 1999. He became Island View’s Clinical Director around 2009. He left Island View around 2010 to work as a Therapist at Solstice RTC, which is a program founded by various former Island View staff. Blake currently still works as a Therapist at Solstice.
Jeff Lavallee worked at Island View as a Therapist. He left Island View in 2012 to work as a Therapist at Solstice RTC, which is a program founded by various former Island View staff.
Kirk Simon worked at Island View RTC as the Medical Director. He also worked as a Psychiatrist at the Aspen Institute For Behavioral Assessment. He currently works as the Psychiatrist at Solstice RTC, which is a program founded by various former Island View staff.
Steven Pope worked as the Purple Team Director. He later left Island View to work at Solstice RTC as a Maintenance worker.
Guy Andersen worked as a Science Teacher at Island View. He left in 2008 to work at Solstice RTC as the Academic Director.
Island View RTC encouraged the use of teen “transport” services to escort the teenagers to the program. This practice is extremely controversial and has been known to cause PTSD in survivors of this practice.
Like other behavior-modification programs, Island View used a level-system consisting of 5 levels. These levels were:
- Orientation: When a resident arrived at Island View, they were placed on Orientation. This level typically lasts around 2 weeks. On this level, residents are given almost no privileges. This level was also used as punishment for when a child broke a rule.
- Explorer: This level typically lasted a few weeks to a few months. The expectations were relatively low. The residents were given privileges such as free time, sleeping an hour later on weekends, and using an ipod (in dorm only).
- Apply: This level typically lasted anywhere between a few months, several months, or sometimes the rest of people’s stay. The expectations were moderate. The residents were given privileges such as weekly outing (required), tv, etc.
- Impact: This level typically lasted anywhere a month to several months, but often the rest of a teen’s stay. There were high expectations; residents must “cue” peers and set a good example. Nny rule breaking will be treated severely, probably with loss of level. These residents can also be punished for their peers breaking rules. They are expected to essentially act as a junior staff. They are given privileges such as being outside without staff supervision.
- Test: This level typically lasted a few weeks, a month, or a few months, often rest of stay. There were reportedly impossibly high expectations placed on these residents. It was extremely easy to lose this level, as they must essentially act perfect, with no rule breaking. They must “cue” peers often, and they will be punished for peers breaking rules often. They are often assigned team roles such as “team leader” giving them even more responsibility and opportunity to be punished, as they are considered responsible for team’s behavior. These residents reportedly do as much as or more work than staff, and are expected to act almost as a therapist with peers. The expectations for this level were so high that even the most perfect person is in constant fear of losing it. It was reported that one teenager almost lost it because he was talking in his sleep, and he was actually forced to apologize to the team in group for talking in his sleep. These residents were given privileges such as being allowed to take your ipod anywhere, including cafeteria, school, and the gym.
The residents at Island View were also divided into “teams” of between 18-20 students each. The team names were:
- Copper Team
- Gold Team
- Green Team
- Purple Team
- Silver Team
- Orange Team
Communication with the outside world was extremely limited. Residents were allowed one phone call per week (when on lower-levels) which are always monitored by staff and/or peers. If a resident said anything that was seen as “manipulative”, they risked losing their phone call privileges and having the call cut short. All incoming and outgoing mail was read and censored by staff. This type of environment made it impossible for residents to report abuse and neglect.
Rules and Punishments
The residents at Island View were forced to adhere to a strict set of rules. According to survivors, there rules included:
- Do not be late
- Rooms must be spotless
- No “name dropping” (Example: X staff/resident said…)
- Staff are allowed to make up any rule they wanted at any time
- No talking back
- 20 minutes to thoroughly clean their rooms, bathrooms, and common areas (including vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, wiping down surfaces, everything neat and organized, sinks spotless with no water marks, etc.)
- No contact with residents of the opposite sex, including eye contact
If a resident breaks a rule, they are punished severely. These punishments reportedly include solitary confinement, violent restraints, loss of “privileges”, and loss of levels.
There was also a punishment called the “Yellow Zone”, which was also used by Island View. Students in the Yellow Zone had to sit silently in a white plastic lawn chair at a desk in a hallway for hours — or days. They could not go to class or see their peers. A staff member stood guard, making sure the children didn’t speak. Time in the Yellow Zone could be doled out for misbehavior as minor as putting one’s feet on furniture, talking without permission, physical contact with another student, “excessive eye contact” or showing skin. Teens could be put in the Yellow Zone for at least 18 hours, and up to 72 hours. Staff would put on Richard Simmons’ “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” for the kids’ occasional exercise. At night, staff pulled a thin mattress into the hallway. Yellow Zone inmates slept under the fluorescent lights. “This is not a time for the resident to check out of the program and relax … or catch up on their sleep,” the handbook explains. “The resident is to remain in staff’s line of vision at all times. This includes bedtime, where the resident will be situated in the hallway and monitored throughout the night by staff.” There was also a variant of the “Yellow Zone” known as “Individual Focus” (also called “IF”), which students could be placed on indefinitely. Many residents were placed on IF for several weeks. The “Yellow Zone” bears a striking resemblance to punishments used in various confirmedly abusive programs, including KIDS of Greater Salt Lake, a Straight Inc. spin-off program that was investigated in 1989 for abuse, which Kimball DeLaMare previously directed.
In addition to the Yellow Zone, teenagers could be put into a “Time Out Room” (also called the “Pink Room”) as punishment, which was a form of solitary confinement. These rooms are small white chambers, approximately 4 by 4 feet, each with a large metal door. Teenagers can spend anywhere from a few hours to several months in isolation, for infractions as small as throwing their glasses on the ground or breaking down and crying. But the state didn’t consider time in the rooms to be solitary confinement because — even though staff kept guard — the doors to the rooms remained unlocked, explained John Ortiz, who has been a site inspector with the department for the last eight years. However, despite the doors not being locked, they are guarded by staff and residents are not allowed to leave for any reason, even to use the bathroom. In fact, survivors report being forced to urinate on themselves while in Isolation when the staff refused to let them out to use the restroom.
Note: Elevations RTC continues to operate using the exact same program structure, staff members, punishments, and rules as Island View RTC.
Abuse, Lawsuits, and Death
Island View RTC is widely reported by survivors to have been an extremely abusive program. Island View RTC has had many reported allegations of abuse, including two lawsuits in 2014, all of which contributed to its “closure” and re-branding as Elevations RTC. Among reported incidents of abuse include solitary confinement, violent restraints, and sexual abuse/grooming behaviors.
In 2004, a 16-year-old boy at Island View successfully committed suicide by hanging himself with a belt in one of the showers. He had only been at Island View for about a month. Syracuse police detective Mark Sessions said the boy was found hanged in the bathroom July 2 after he excused himself from a movie, which was being shown before dinner. In the hallway outside his room, Sessions said, the boy encountered a couple of other teenage residents and joked with them before entering his room. Staff believed he was in his room at his desk, but the youth entered the bathroom from the private entrance in his room. When staff found him, they unsuccessfully tried to revive him. Additional Information: Teen Facility Targets Suicide Prevention
In January of 2014, a lawsuit filed against Island View and Dr. Phil alleged that a 15-year-old resident, who had been sent to IV by Dr. Phil, suffered severe nerve damage as a result of a staff member attempting to pull the girl off of her bed. The suit claims that the girl apparently refused to obey staff members who told her to get off of her bed. When staff members tried to pull her off, her right arm “was badly and perhaps irreparably broken, and its main nerve severely damaged.”
In February of 2014, another lawsuit was filed against Island View and Provo Canyon School, claiming negligence and breach of fiduciary duties.
In April of 2014, only a few months after these lawsuit were filed, Island View was sold to Family Help & Wellness for $650,000 and reopened as Elevations RTC. Elevations now claims no association with Island View, however, this is entirely untrue. The Huffington Post reported that 39 of the 48 employees listed on Elevations’ website had previously worked for Island View. In addition, nothing about the program’s structure or rules has changed in the slightest. Elevations still uses the “Time Out Room” and the “Yellow Zone” as punishments. Even the names of the levels are the same. In fact, the change in ownership itself was entirely superficial, as the Founder and CEO of Family Help & Wellness, Tim Dupell, formerly worked as the CFO and Vice President of Aspen Education Group. Besides the name, nothing else about the program’s actual structure was changed in the slightest.
8/4/2020: (SURVIVOR) “Worst abuse place in history. Kids come out worse . Went their 5 years ago and still am struggling with ptsd. It’s like being an already rotten apple put with molded apples. Either be all alone and kiss ass and die on the inside from isolation or become friends with other fucked up kids and come out with extreme violent and suicidal ideation. Some nights I dream on getting revenge on staff that broke my wrist during a restraint. My wrist still pops in and out like it’s not attached to this day.” – Josh (Yelp)
4/16/2017: (SURVIVOR) “Warning: this is gonna be long as hell. No details on who I am or when I went, sorry, other than I was there when it was still called Island View. I’m ultra paranoid about being identified and want to distance myself from it all. I’m happy to talk via PM. One little hint I’ll give out publicly is that while I attended there, someone called in a bomb threat, so we were all moved to the church down the street. Sat around for seven hours bored out of our skulls, but got to eat pizza and not go through the daily miserable routine. It was a nice reprieve, so if you’re the person who called it in, thanks man. I owe you a pizza. I graduated as a test. I spent more than a year there. I graduated having one of the most prestigious ‘job’ you could be assigned, and was seen as a diplomat between teams and as vastly improved by the facility. By all accounts, I seemed like the perfect success story. A couple years later, I had a sympathetic therapist who was astonished by all of what I’d told him. He had no idea. Given, he probably didn’t have the extensive education a psychologist or psychiatrist would have, but he didn’t have a lot of contact with the TTI because he was mostly an adult therapist. He told me a buddy of his was an investigator for these sorts of places, and asked me if I wanted him to try to coax this investigator into giving Island View a closer look. Of course I said yes, so he told me he was going to call him up, put him on speakerphone, and pretend he was just talking to him one on one, and for me to be quiet, so we could get the response he’d give a colleague. So he rang him up and asked him if he knew about Island View, the investigator said of course, then told him my allegations against the place. Keep in mind, I wasn’t pulled from the RTC, I didn’t barely graduate on impact, I was well-regarded when I graduated. The investigator paused, and this is what he said (I’ll remember this until the day I die): “That’s ridiculous. I’ve toured that facility multiple times and can attest to the highest level of professionalism in the business. It sounds like you’ve got a disgruntled ex-patient on your hands trying to get some attention or sympathy.” Even typing this out now makes my heart race. I’ve never been quiet since then about telling people about the place, but the few times I’ve had friends start to rally, get angry, get motivated to make a petition or launch an investigation, I’ve told them not to bother. Here’s why: Anyone who stayed at Island View for a long period of time will remember the routine when they sent investigators over: we were made to double deep clean our rooms. The people who were on yellow zone or individual focus were either sequestered to their room with the door closed, or the door to the whole hallway was closed off. Anyone below an impact caught talking to the investigators could get privileges pulled and were told not to interact with them, not to look at them. At best, if you were asked a question by them, you were pressured to smile and look engaged in your schoolwork. The investigators were led around by tests, usually the team leaders. If anyone of any level said anything bad or incriminatory to the investigators, you could face serious trouble. And if my memory serves me right, which it might not because there are thankfully big great gaps missing from this period in my life, they would serve the ‘good’ food when these investigators rolled through. The burgers and fries and sometimes even root beers and cream sodas. They did that when parents came through too. And if I recall correctly, they mostly toured the school and only briefly strolled through the actual housing units. This place practised conversion therapy. They practised solitary confinement. They practised gender confirmation therapy. They used excessive force when restraining non-dangerous patients. (I mean, that’s why they had to sell the place.) They practised extreme social manipulation. They practised literal brainwashing! A kid killed himself there. There were multiple accounts of sexual abuse. But I was a ‘disgruntled ex-patient looking for attention or sympathy’. So yep. There’s my contribution to ‘these lovely human beings have all the possible cards you could imagine stacked against you’ argument. If I had no soul, moral conscience, or empathy for other living beings, this whole industry has an amazing business plan.” – Anonymous
10/18/2015: (SURVIVOR) “Someone above said you have to trust the marketing material. I have one thing to say to that – don’t. As far as Island View is concerned, I was there the day half the pictures on their site were taken. My team mates and I watched, confined in our group rooms, as they paraded models on to campus to take those. Much like the poster directly above me, I was placed at IV at the age of 15 and am also now 24 (can’t help but wonder if we knew each other). To this day, I have recurrent nightmares about the place and large blocks of my time there have been edited out by my own mind. I have since been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the 18 months I spent there. I was accused of lying over and over again when telling the truth. I was held back in my treatment by manipulative, vindictive girls that were supposed to be my team mates. At one point while on “Individual Focus”, a so-called therapeutic treatment that consists of sitting in your chair, staring at the wall and not being allowed to speak, even to staff, I was routinely denied access to the bathroom. I was also denied the medication I had been prescribed by one of IV’s doctors, which lead to severe withdrawal symptoms that I was then accused of faking. At one point, I was put on a heavy anti-psychotic without myself or my parents being fully informed of it’s side effects. Come to find out, one of them is eye sight deterioration. I have had reading glasses since I was 17 because of that and my eyes continue to go downhill. The boarding schools I have heard great things about. As far as lock downs like Island View? I wish I could say the same. Even though I was in a “therapeutic environment”, I was denied treatment for my addiction, staff claiming it could negatively impact other girls. I was denied the diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, a condition that made my early years on my own a nightmare. I was also denied the diagnosis of hypoglycemia and tourettes while there. As far as my most major disorder at the time, trichotillomania, I was denied treatment for it over and over again and was instead made to feel ashamed of it as I already had for years and was accused of self harming and doing it for attention. All I have to say to parents thinking of sending their child to Island View, or someplace like it, is don’t. Fully research anywhere before you condemn your child to a lifetime of nightmares like mine did to me.” – Carrie
9/13/2015: (SURVIVOR) “As a former resident/student at Island View RTC, Aspen Achievement Academy and Oakley School I would advise all parents in being very careful about where they choose to send their children. (I first attended Island View at the age of 15). I understand that your child may be experiencing many problems in the home and may need to live somewhere away from home but it is very important that parents are able to assess just what kind of place their child actually needs in solving these problems. Many of these lock-down and Residential Treatment Centers will take just about any child regardless of the severity of their problems. But the problems your child is experiencing can escalate as a result of the constant in-your-face types of therapeutic treatments used as well as the level of strictness that these facilities enforce in their rules. Before deciding to send your child to a center such as Island View RTC (a lock-down) I would first see if your child could be successful at a therapeutic boarding school such as the Oakley School or the Hyde School (if it is still around). If your child refuses to go to such a school there are always SHORT-TERM wilderness programs with which afterwards the child will most likely agree to goto a therapeutic boarding school rather than an RTC program. Therapeutic boarding schools offer lots of support in accepting children with problems, however from my experience at the Oakley School I was able to be myself. At Island View I felt as if I was constantly being brainwashed – and I still have recurrent dreams about the place to this day at the age of 24. In addition, it seems that the success rate of students coming from therapeutic boarding schools is much higher. I have kept in contact with many people from the past programs I attended. Sadly, quite a few have committed suicide, some have joined the porn industry, become prostitutes and many were teen mothers. On the contrary, at Oakley many of the students went onto college – including myself (graduating with a B.A. last year.) Island View forces the child into undergoing therapy almost 24/7 – and the only option the child has in completing the program is to go along with what they are being told to do – many pretend just so they can get out and therefore they have no ability to deal with things in the real world since what is going on behind the locked doors is nothing like the real world at all – much more closer to jail in actuality. At a therapeutic boarding school the child can learn that they can still be a normal teenager – they just need a little more guidance than they are able to receive at home. These schools are much more like regular schools with a few more rules and a little less privacy but on a much more minimal scale. Hopefully, this helps any parents who are in search of a place for their child.” – Jame
8/3/2015: (PARENT) “I am the parent of a child who spent 13 months in this hell and have only come to realize that what he told us while he was there (then 13, now 29) is all true. Please anyone with truths to tell about the abuse there let me know. A mass tort case should be tried or at the very least a mass media campaign to expose the people behind Island View. I am sickened to know that we put my son through this in an effort to HELP him! We were desperate save him but he was bipolar and nobody diagnosed him!!! He still has nightmares and we will never be able to make it up to him. While his stay there may have saved his life, it could have also killed him from their “treatment”. God help me, Island View is such a horrible thing to have happened when parents are trying their best to help their children and it is basically a prison sucking the life out of our child and we are to blame.” – C.N. (Yelp)
10/3/2014: (SURVIVOR) “I would give this place 0 stars is I could. I am a former “resident” and was admitted January of 2013 and left January 2014. A full year and 7 days. I know a few of the residents who reviewed this and I WAS THERE when the staff member broke a girls arm. She and her family are suing Dr. Phil for sending her there. Look it up, he name is Sierra Meyers and her mother, Teri’s, review was removed. If you think its okay to break a teenagers arm because she didn’t want to get out of bed is okay, you are sick. I also witnessed a few more broken bones from these “therapeutic holds”. I came here for anxiety and drug abuse. It didn’t help. The punishments are cruel and inhumane and they get physical for the littlest reason. I was not a resident I was a fucking prisoner. Don’t send your child here. You will seriously regret it.” – Jess (Yelp)
7/2/2014: (SURVIVOR) “I was sent here when I was 17 years old for 6 months. They combine verbal and emotional abuse, unethical treatment practices as well as solitary confinement punishment. ( the pink room) The facility houses teens with all kinds of issues. When I was there, several girls had been raped or molested by family members and in group we had to hear the horrific details of the attacks .As an adult, it has taken over a decade of therapy as well as inpatient therapy to combat PTSD acquired from this institution. If you are a parent, PLEASE do thorough research on any program before you send your child there.” – Amanda (Yelp)
1/7/2014: (SURVIVOR) “My name is Nate. I was, along with many other teens, detained against my will at Island View RTC. In my time there, I experienced solitary confinement, attack therapy resembling struggle sessions, forced medication, sleep deprivation, multiple batteries at the hands of unlicensed staff members, and much more. I am 24 now, discharged 6 years ago, and it is still a major problem in my life. Most nights I have nightmares, and scream in my sleep. I have been diagnosed with PTSD post-discharge. I also have Tourette’s Syndrome characterized by violent motor ticks. This has caused me injury in the past, and there is a long, documented history of my case. Island View psychiatrists knew this, and subjected me to medical testing. I was prescribed and forced to take Abilify, a powerful antipsychotic known to cause tardive dyskinesia, another motion disorder. Many notes were made on and questions asked about its effect on my Tourette’s, and I was still forced to take the medication when I reported that it made it worse. I cite this as a small, singular example of the atrocities committed by Kimball DeLaMare (the founder), and Aspen Education (Proof: http://imgur.com/a/DDS6O). EDIT: PLEASE tell people about this AMA. I want my voice heard. I want these people stopped. If I can save one kid from going through what I went through, it is worth reliving my experience. EDIT: Some people are saying I got sent away for my meth use. That makes no sense, since I didn’t use drugs until I got out of Island View, and I started using to make the memories go away. For the record, I quit using drugs June 10, 2010. I was sent away because I would not dress how my father wanted, wouldn’t stop listening to the music I liked, and was sexually active with my girlfriend. That last one was HUGE for him, he is a diagnosed narcissist and cannot handle his son “usurping” his position as a sexual male. It made him feel like I was taking his place in the pride, so to speak, and so, he punished me. FINAL EDIT: This has been exhausting, but I honestly feel a little better. I’ve never really spoken about my experience before, and I think I needed to. Thanks for giving me a forum. To all current and former Island View staff who have stumbled upon this AMA, especially Dramanda (You know who you are, traitor. Working for your captors… for shame.), FUCK YOU. I succeeded in my life in spite of you, not because of you. FINAL FINAL EDIT, REALLY THIS TIME: If you are a survivor, and you need someone to talk to, I am here.’ – deleted user (Reddit)
12/9/2013: (SURVIVOR) “This place is indeed a prison. I was a prisoner here and let me tell you one story from the inner sanctum. Island View has a solitary confinement room known in my time as the ‘pink room’. ( First and foremost I declare Island View as a crime against humanity. ) It was this room that a fellow inmate by the name of Raef was locked inside. The room was a locked cell near the end of the hallway on either the female and male wing. There are 2 solitary confinement cells. While my friend Raef was locked in the pink room he had a mental breakdown and smeared his own fecal waste on every surface in that cell. The smell lasted for weeks and I was a prisoner the whole time. I have PTSD as well. To those that have PTSD I recommend TCM treatments. Herbal Medicine. Massage Therapy. 15 years worth of PTSD thanks to Island View. I have many stories from there. I was actually thinking about the time I was choked out cold by an inmate last night … Before Raef had the episode in the pink room I was dragged by my arm by one of the main therapists and tossed/locked in that solitary confinement cell for simply questioning him. I observed blood and other bodily fluids on the walls which was painted pink. The floor was ceramic tile and very cold. Neglect and torture was the theme behind the pink room. I feel they painted the room pink to cause psychological torture. Places like this aim to profit from stupid parents. Take it from me I was there. It was horrible. Go to HEAL’s website; don’t send your kid here. A class action lawsuit is coming. Look into TCM to treat teen behavior problems.” – Nabil (Yelp)
11/17/2013: (SURVIVOR) “I was a resident at Island View RTC for thirteen months between 2000 and 2001. I was sent there for skipping school, experimenting with drugs, and sneaking out of the house- normal teenage stuff, right? It all started when I was woke up in the middle of the night by teo “escorts” who explained that they were taking me to s special school for a while. I was too sleepy at the time to put up a fight, but in retrospect I should have run away from them right then- I had no idea the hell I was about to be put through. When I arrived at Island view I was placed on the green team. My therapist was Seth Geisler, and our team director was Jennifer VanBuskirk.I felt that their purpose was to use whatever means necessary (seclusion, sensory deprivation) to brainwash me into subscribing to their golden way of life. I had many takedowns, sometimes for just making rude comments. I was hummiliated, strip searched, locked in the “time out room” (one of three prison cells they had at the time, before I left they built yet another one!). I was also made to sit at my desk staring at a white wall all day everyday for weeks. At this point I had no hope. I dreampt up elaborate “escape plans” of how to get out of Island View and live my life on the run. I wished for god to kill mr everynight as I lay in bead waiting for the heavy tranquilizers to send me to a better place, untill the rooster came around to yell and flip on the bright flouresent lights at 6 in the morning. Since arriving at Island View my behavior and grades reached an all time low. They transfered me to purple team near the end of my stay because I had become a “negetive peer”.I felt imprisoned and hopeless and didn’t even try in school. I tried to daydream the days away to briefly escape from that terrible place. To this day I have nightmares that I’m still locked up in that place, in the tiny, cold timeout room wigth the door locked. I remember being tackled by huge clean cut mormon “houseparents”. Their primary purpose was to serve as guards so that no one could escape. I could go on forever about what a terrible place that is but there isnt space or time. I would be interested in communicating from anyone else on green team or any other former residents with similar experiences.” – Anonymous
9/28/2013: (SURVIVOR) “Agreed. This place was a nightmare. They keep everyone on heavy doses of drugs and turn kids into zombies. I also developed PTSD and anxiety disorders. The nightmares I had also led me to be an insomniac because I am still scared to sleep because I don’t want anymore nightmares. The staff their mentally and physically abuses the kids as I was. There is also a lot of sexual abuse as well. It’s really hard for me to even think about or write about my experience there but if you are a parent and reading this PLEASE don’t send your child their if you love them. My parents also really regret sending me there. The school there is a joke and I was left totally un-prepared for college. I graduated when I was 16. I’m 31 today and just barely recovering from all the abuse. The truth is I will never recover. If you are a parent who has a kid their and you think they are doing good your wrong! They are just doing anything they can to get out of there. It’s only natural when you are being abused behind the curtain. Their problems will only multiple when they get out. A lot of kids I knew when I was there are dead or in jail. I started using using drugs after Island View and almost killed myself. It took a miracle for me to get real help, today my life is getting better and I am getting the help that Island View could never offer. It is a sinister and evil place. Island View destroys lives and families. I’ve always wanted to do something about it. If there is anybody out there that wants to talk personally about their experience I would really like that. This place should be shut down and the owners thrown in jail. I was on purple team at first but most of my time was spent on green team. If there is anyone out there that was there when I was please reach out and tell the truth about the horror and abuse that still takes place to this day.” – Jason (Yelp)
7/12/2013: (SURVIVOR) “During my time there at island view RTC, I was humiliated, depersonafied, belittled, degrated and above all else, desensified. You see, at island view, they had a “positive peer culture” (as stated above) which was origionally implamented to promote the resident’s holding each other “accountable” but how does one get rightfully consequenced if the one holding another accountable isn’t telling the whole truth???!!! In fact the all that’s is said is everything but their part. Well their part is told but only from a stand point that you were the one and only guilty of a two person act… this happned to me and I was put on IF (also stated and accurately described above) for 38 days, and for the first week and a half I was not allowed to get my school work, which is half the program itself. Another side effect of IV for me is that it caused no fixes or betters I my family or home situations… I out right said that if I were t ok go back to my home city of Martinez, I was not going to be able to stay sober or on the right path at all. Not three days after my graduation, only earned by biting of my tongue, smiling and learning to just say “OK”, by the way) I was kicked out of my house, using harder drugs than i had ever used before rehab/treatmen whatever people want to call it, hell is my choice. My life got worse after IV. I was forceably there for close to 3 years, and even the staff saw and mentioned TO ME, that I was not alive I my eyes, I had broken and was just complying to get thru, and one very honest, yes rarely there was a random renegade staff who spoke the truth about island view. Anyway this staff told me that there is a point where treatment starts working in reverse and doing more damage then good… So there you’ve heard it… even IVs own staff thought the program was bogus! All I cansay is that I would highly recommend against sending your kids there…” – Anastasia (Yelp)
5/6/2013: (PARENT) “My daughter has just left Island View In May 2013. She was put in a “theraputic hold” which broke her arm. She has since told me horror stories of what she had to endure in those three months. After Island View staff broke her arm the director David Hans never even spoke to us, to say he was sorry. Yes they flew us out there, and took us with our daughter to an orthopedic specialist to do surgery on her arm. We brought her home to be safe again. She had problems before she went in, but let me tell all you parents who are thinking of placing your child there…..DO NOT DO IT!!!!! She has nightmares, anxiety from being attacked and having her arm broke among other things. Your child may have problems but trust and believe me they will come out worse than when they went in. Parents protect your child, look into other places Island View messed her up emotionally and did physical harm as well.Do not send your child there, I beg you if your child is there, look into these allegations and get them out. If you do not they will suffer more damage.I just want to add ….this is a compound break in her humerus bone with nerve damage. So please please just be aware!” – Terri (Yelp).
4/6/2013: (SURVIVOR) “I developed severe PTSD from island view. I had my first panic attack at island view that later developed into a full blown panic disorder. when i was sent there, i was imprisoned and emotionally abused with similar psuedopsychology to the kind nazi’s used in concentration camps and the CIA used in project MKULTRA. they disguise gang mentalities as “positive peer environments”, group hazing sessions as “problem solving groups (PSG)” and humiliation, degradation and isolation as “individual focus”. In this so called “treatment” students are forced to wear demeaning piss stained sweats, sit in a hallway for weeks on end unable to even communicate with anyone. They are then told to write essays about their faults and beg forgiveness from a condescending tribunal if they ever wish to be acknowledged as an actual person again. They strip you of every joy, comfort, or even your own free will, and treat basic human rights as “privileges” to be earned. They persecute children and treat the slightest sexual expression as “sexually acting out”, with the social severity typically reserved for SEXUAL PREDATORS. This is a shame and fear based environment that intentionally provokes anger and then punishes it, to make the staff feel in control and the children feel powerless. This is NOT a boarding school, OR a treatment center, OR a hospital. It is a PRISON. And what they are doing is not treatment, it is torture. this place should be shut down, and the staff should be put in prison themselves. i still have nightmares, waking up screaming, dreams of being raped or murdered by my best friends or having night terrors that keep me up at night because i feel the presence of an intruder in my bedroom. This prison has significantly affected my ability to make lasting relationships or trust anyone, ever again. It is a medical fact that trauma causes an imbalance in serotonin production. This, combined with the SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors), caused a serious and persistant imbalance in serotonin that was responsible for the panic disorder that developed. Panic disorder combined with the REAL threats of physical and emotional abuse (staff were given permission to P.I., or tackle, restrain, or hurt students if “necessary”) gave an overwhelming amount of trauma that physically damaged the structure of my brain. PTSD is an INJURY, not a mental illness, and i am hoping to start a class action lawsuit against this facility and its staff. Anywhere else, under the guise of any other profession, these people would already be in jail with 10 year sentences. Please take a look at Kevins review below and laugh at the nerve of these lunatics to even think such an obviously fake review would fly. For one, his profile contains only one review to attempt to reduce the extremity of what it is they actually do here. No one would EVER approve to being unconstitutionally imprisoned, and even if they did, it wouldn’t make it ok. Second of all, what adult male would use a picture of a preteen disney girl as his profile picture? I mean at least be convincing if you’re going to be full of shit.” – Ben (Yelp)
2/28/2013: (SURVIVOR) “Fuck this place. Your asses would not believe the bullshit they insert into your life. These fuckers put you in hell, so that when you get out back to earth, its more bearable. Isn’t that some genius shit? NO! fuck them and with all due respect fuck you if you’re gonna send your kid here. It will only fuck them up 10 times worse. If your kids have drug problems, than you should take it into your own hands and deal with it the right way. People got over addiction just fine before RTCs started showing up all over the goddamn place. They gave me a a 20 year old bunkbed, shitty food, a radio, 2 phone calls a week and thats about it. They stripped me from my friends and family, Separated me from the one fucking person that was holding me from not killing myself. She was my everything, but it was such an easy idea to be rid of her in their plans! but not mine! I WENT FUCKING CRAZY! Who wouldn’t when you are staring through a window that doesn’t just separate you from the outside. But its a window that separates you from freedom! I can still remember the tears i saw rolling down my baby’s eyes that last day i was with her. Tears filled with not just sadness but uncertainty, and fear. Parents, but yourself in my situation. You are pulled away from love when love is just the thing thats keeping you afloat. So instead you are forced to drown in your full and complete sorry and misery while you have therapists and staff constantly bitching, consistently ABUSING even. Luckily I was able to leave. When my good friends and i got pissed, we started a riot. A group of very strong friends, with the temporary thought to beat the shit out of anyone we didn’t approve of in sight. 5 minutes later, sirens. A couple broken rips and two concussions for the dipshits that tried fucking with us. Jail of course afterwards, but out of the situation i was able to leave, get back my life. All that trouble just cause of these fucking asswipes who sting you with words and bruise you with fits. They kick you while your down. Unless you want your son or daughter sent home with the scars of not only physical pain, but more emotional pain than they started with. Take it from me. I know.” – Jayden (Yelp)
9/6/2012: (SURVIVOR) “I was also emotionally abused at Island view. I went there to deal with my bipolar, something i did not choose. Just driving up to the door is like visiting an old fashioned prosion. One day, they gave me too much of my lithium and i got toxic (needed to go to hospital asap). Staff told me i was throwing up to be manipulative. WHAT? So, luckaly i had one precious phonecall home. I called my mom sobbing and becayse of this they almost unplugged my call. I told my mom I was puking with a headache and stomach ache,,, signs of lithuim overdose. THen staff gave me a mop and bucket, called me a child and hadf me cleaning up on the floor sobbing, my own throw up. My Mom called Island View and I got a blood test, then went to the hospital. They fired only the psychiatrist. I am 26 now with ptsd as well… from visiting hell for 8 whole months when I was only 16 years old! I am pissed off that my bipolar illness (started at age 7) was blown up ay Island Concentration Camp… in to behavoir problems???.. what they said. As most bipolars know, we are responsible for our behavior, yes, but it is A CHEMICAL IMBALANCE IN THE BRAIN. I would, for example, wake up crying from depression, and yelled at until i got out of bed.. Im not going to get in to more detail (I could go on for days….) but never in my life, I had been so abused. My Parents were heartbroken, but they couldnt find me a place for bipolar teens that wasnt so abusive. Here is why i have ptsd now….actually, I dont wanna remember it to hard right now…” – Haley (Yelp)
5/30/2011: (SURVIVOR) “I was sent to Treatment when I was 16 right before my senior year of High School after being arrested twice in one month. Two escorts came into my room at 4:30 AM and took me with very little fight from Connecticut to Utah and then to a wilderness program in Idaho. I was a heroin addict going through withdrawal during the winter I spent at wilderness. My first day at wilderness they told me to strip and forced me to stay naked in the freezing cold until I took out all of my piercings (some of which I couldn’t get out because I was exhausted and freezing). I spent around 58 days in wilderness struggling to contact my parents through letters. I recieved a letter half way through telling me I was getting sent to a bording school and they were not sure which one. I worked my ass off to get through wilderness hoping I could come home but their decision was final and I wound up in an RTC in Utah called Island View. I was told it was a six month program and I could have fun, make friends, meet a cute new guy and calm my life down. When I got there everything I had been told was a lie again. I wasn’t allowed to talk to boys or the majority of the girls even, I had no free time besides time between schedualed groups and school, and there was nothing fun about the facility. Most of my treatment experiences were lies. I got checked on by the nurses and came to find out I had the strain of HPV which could cause cancer. they told me to check up on it in six months so I figured when I got out I could check it. After talking to girls I found out no one got out in six months usually and it was all based on my so-called “personal progress”. The first friend I made there I was forced into “CMR” (communication restriction) with. They didn’t like that we were friends because we spent to much time together which was the remaining time that we weren’t being dragged around from group to group. I was taken down in my first month for a violent out burst when they started packing the few items I had in to boxes with no reason (none of which were actually mine from home). The next month I was completely shunned by both staff and residents. I was completely alone in a strange state and locked in to an institution. I slowly made friends with in my “team” (the girls I was allowed to talk to) and after arriving there in May I finally moved up to the next level in September a dady after my birthday, thus allowing me to listen to the radio. My parents were instucted to not visit me on my birthday but to compensate sent me alot of gifts. My level was quickly taken from me because I had violated a rule they had created that week. Everyone on my team went on “yellow zone” for breaking the rule. Yellow Zone is when you sit in a lawn chair silently for a minimum of 18 hours and a maximum of 72 only getting up to use the bathroom, eat, and sleep. The rule was you couldnt have the information of the friends you had made because of “confidentiality”. So I lost the number and address of the first real friend I had made there. I developed acid reflux from vomiting during withdrawal and I vomited every morning from anxiety for 8 months before they took me to a doctor to check up on it. I worked on friendships there for many months because thats all there was. After the six months I was supposed to check up on my HPV and I reminded the nurses numerous times to no avail because they didnt want to have to take me off campus to see a gynocologist. I spent Christmas and hanukah alone because my parents once again were told not to come. When my parents came to see me in Febuary or March when I graduated High School with no prom, no ceremony, none of my closest friends, and worst of all no true sense of accomplishment. I wrote them a ten page letter on how desperately I wanted to come home and I was turned down because my therapist told them they would make a program to ween me out of treatment. I finally got a home visit in April and I ran away from home so I wouldn’t get sent back. I went to a close friends house for a few days so I could see people who loved and supported me despite what they wanted me to think. My mom knew the mother of the girl and had escorts come to her house at 5 AM to take me back. I spent a month on the unit because they didnt allow the streak of black I had put in my hair while I was home and I had to wait until they made me a hair appointment. when off the unit I sat around in the school hallway while everyone was in school and just waited. I was put on yellow zone once again for having a piercing and I went to my sobbing and hopeless. I was told to go to the time out room and three staff grabbed my arms and started dragging me there when I wanted to go myself. I asked if they’d let go and they didn’t respond so I pulled my arms away. I was immediately tackled because this motion was “threatening” and held down in the middle of the hallway humiliated infront of all of my friends and all of the boys who could see me on the other side of the hall. In June while my three best friends were on a home visit I was told to pack my stuff because I was getting transfered to a “sober dorm” in Pennsylvania in two days. I left with no goodbye group, with out my three best friends and once again alone. Once in the “sober dorm” I was unable to adjust because suddenly I had alot of freedom and it scared me. I hadnt had to talk to people in a year and a half or so. I quickly took a greyhound bus home and lived at my friends house until I was sure I wasnt getting sent anywhere. That is a summary of my treatment stay. I dont know if it was supposed to be this long but I had alot to say and I cut out alot.” – Alyx
2/20/2009: (SURVIVOR) “It was 2000 when I was admitted to Island View Residential Treatment Center in Utah. I was 15 years old and fresh out of a wilderness program that I actually would recomend. My first two days there were spent isolated on the unit. The fourth of July was my first day off the unit. The next morning, I was falsely accused of having carved a heart in to a mirror on Gold Team’s unit. I had done it, according to the ones doing the accusing, because I had gone in to the bathroom alone while the team was on bathroom buddies, a fact that I was never informed of. Further incriminating evidence, in their eyes, was the fact that I had a nightshirt with a heart on it and had drawn hearts on my little comment box that hung outside my room. For three days, the entire team was held in the group room. At first, it was nothing but a barage of insults and false accusations made against me by both staff and residents. I was accused of lying over and over again, even when I was in tears, swearing my innocence. After the first day, we were not allowed to speak for any reason. Staff claimed that it was to make the guilty party (supposedly me) confess. We ate our food, usually cold by the time we got it, from styrafoam containers. Each night, we were sent to bed in total silence. When the staff finally realized that they were not going to get the confession that they wanted, they let us leave the room. However, for the next two months, we were not allowed to be in the bathroom without at least two other residents or a staff member present. To this day, I can not help but over react when I am falsely accused – or believe that I am being falsely accused – of something, or when I am accused of lying. Also for those months, I had to live with the stigma of being the girl who vandalized Island View property and lied about it within her first days there. Each week during the major group session (I can’t remember the name of it), I was attacked by the same three or four girls via their “helpful” slips. They were seen as being leaders because they were “helping” the new girl face her “issues”, while I was seen as a lier, amongst other things. Approximately five months in to my stay, two months after the girl who had really done it had been released to go home, a girl who was still there recived a letter from this girl – I’ll call her M. This letter not only stated, but gloated about, the fact that M had been the one to carve the heart in to the mirror and that she had accused me so that she could get away with it and still be allowed to go home. Even once knowledge of M’s actions reached staff, no one ever apologized to me.” – Anonymous
Island View RTC Website Homepage (archived, 2007)
HEAL Program Information – Island View/Elevations RTC
The Troubled Teen Industry has been a Disaster for Decades. And it’s still not Fixed. (The Huffington Post, 8/23/2016)
“Treatment Centers” for Troubled Teens Are Gothic Nightmares (Slate, 8/24/2016)
HOW DO BRUTAL TEEN BOOT CAMPS STILL LURE PARENTS? (OZY, 10/30/2019)
Misha Osherovich Is the Fearless Actor and Advocate Who Wants All Queer Kids to Be Okay (Them., 12/22/2020)
My Daughter Was a Victim of the ‘Troubled Teen’ Industry & It Haunts Me to This Day (Cafe Mom, 10/14/2020)
Utah Has Seen Abuse In ‘Troubled Teen’ Programs For Decades. Now, Momentum Slowly Builds For Change. (KUER, 12/17/2020)
Teen facility targets suicide prevention (Deseret News, 7/30/2004)