Telos RTC (2004-present) Orem, UT

Residential Treatment Center

History and Background Information

Telos RTC is a behavior-modification program that opened in 2004. It is marketed as a Residential Treatment Center for teenage boys (assigned at birth) between the ages of 13 and 17. It claims to help boys dealing with depression, anxiety, social problems, executive function needs, and learning differences. Telos has a maximum enrollment of 48 and the average length of stay is reported to be around 11 months. Telos RTC has been a NATSAP member since 2004.

The program is located at 870 W Center St, Orem, UT 84057. Telos also operates another program called “Telos U” which is for young adults (males and females) aged 18-30. Telos U is located at 600 S Geneva Rd, Orem, UT 84059.

According to a document written about Telos’ founding, “Telos RTC formed in March 2004 after four years of research and planning. Prior to March, two of the current owners, Greg Rush and Tony Hansen, who were high school friends, aspired to form a business together. The business hope continued when Greg Rush met Tony Mosier through his employment at Provo Canyon High School. As a friendship developed, Greg invited Tony Mosier to join the project in late 2000.” Many of the staff and administrators at Telos RTC came from the confirmedly abusive Provo Canyon School.

Founders and Notable Staff

Craig LaMont is one of the Founders of Telos RTC. He currently works as Telos’ Chief Executive Officer. He has also worked as the Vice President and later the President of NATSAP. He was also reportedly the Co-Owner of New Haven RTC, and was a Board Member of Catalyst RTC.

Tony Mosier is one of the Founders of Telos RTC. He currently works as Telos’ Chief Operations Officer. He is the current President of NATSAP. He is reported to have previously worked as a Therapist at the confirmedly abusive Provo Canyon School. He was also a Board Member of Catalyst RTC.

Greg Rush is one of the Founders of Telos RTC. He also worked as the Director of Clinical Services at Telos RTC. He met Tony Mosier when he was working as a Therapist at the confirmedly abusive Provo Canyon School with Tony. He was also a Board Member of Catalyst RTC.

Anthony (Tony) Hansen is one of the Founders of Telos RTC. He currently works as Telos’ Outreach Director. Prior to this, Hansen worked as a Therapist at Second Nature Wilderness program from 2001 until 2004. He was also a Board Member of Catalyst RTC.

John Hall is the current Chief Quality Officer of Telos RTC. He also works as a Therapist at Telos. He is also a Chair on the NATSAP Research Committee. He previously worked as a Therapist at the confirmedly abusive Provo Canyon School.

Daniel B. Pontius works as the Chief Branding Officer of Telos RTC. He is the brother of Alan Pontius, who worked for many years as a Teacher at the confirmedly abusive Provo Canyon School in 1990’s.

Barry Fell is the current Executive Director of Telos RTC. He previously worked as a Unit Counselor at the reportedly abusive Heritage Schools Inc..

Nathan Sellers is the current Clinical Director of Telos RTC. He previously worked as a a Therapist at the reportedly abusive Coral Reef Academy in Samoa.

Kyle Gillett worked as the Assistant Clinical Director, Research Director, and a Primary Therapist at Telos RTC from 2005 until 2008. He later worked as the Founder, Program Director, Clinical Director, Therapist, and Admissions Director of Solstice RTC from 2008 until 2012. In 2012, he left to create Solstice East in North Carolina, and continues to serve as their Executive Director. He also created Equinox RTC, which is also in North Carolina, and he also serves as the Executive Director of that program as well.

Matt Quackenbush worked as the Residential Director of Telos RTC from 2008 until 2015. He also worked on NATSAP‘s Government Relations Committee from 2011 until 2014.

Program Structure

Like other behavior-modification programs, Telos RTC uses a level system, called the “individual phase” program. It is described as:

  • 1. Pre-Contemplation: “I don’t have a problem.”
  • 2. Contemplation: “I may have a problem.”
  • 3. Preparation: “I have a problem, and I’m starting to work on it.”
  • 4. Action: “I have a problem, and I’m working hard on it.”
  • 5. Maintenance: “I had a problem, I worked hard on it, and now I’m working hard to maintain the changed behavior.”

Telos also hosts family seminars every 10 weeks. These are three-day events to make the parents buy into the program as well. It has also been reported that Telos incorporates a triathlon into their treatment plan.

If the teenager fails to comply with the program there are a number of consequences:

  • If he fails to meet therapeutic goals in the program he will be placed on Therapy Special Status. He will spend free time working on therapy assignments and lose activity privileges, personal phone call privileges, and could lose family therapy privileges. Upon completion of the assignments, the therapist may restore the boy’s usual phase privileges.
  • For unclear reasons as it is not defined what inappropriate behavior is the the Residential Manager may place a teenager on Residential Special Status. He will spend free time working on writing assignments and lose activity privileges and personal phone call privileges.
  • If a teenager attempts suicide, makes suicidal gestures, or expresses a desire to hurt himself, he will be placed on Safety Status. Suicide Watch (Safety) lasts until the Primary Therapist removes the student from it. Your son must sleep in front of the Night Watch and must be with a staff member at all times. He will crack the door when showering or using the bathroom.
  • Writing Assignments Staff may give a teenager therapeutic writing assignments as a prearranged consequence.
  • “Speaking ban” called Communication Block means that the teenager is not allowed to talk with other students or a specific student if his communications have been “inappropriate”. They also have a “Five-foot” Rule. If a teenager is judged to lack respect for another’s personal space, he must maintain a five-foot distance between himself and the other person.
  • Shut-down: Due to severe non-compliance or severe inappropriate behavior, a teenager may be placed on shut-down. He will not be allowed to participate in activities or socialize with other detainees.
  • If a teenager fails to earn a “C-” in school work, he will be placed on Academic Special Status, which means loss of privileges and no free time because all time has to be used on school work. Once he earns a “C-” or higher, he will resume his normal status in the program.
  • The program states that the Telos staff are trained to use passive physical restraint only when a teenager is hurting himself or others, damaging property, or attempting to run away. The facility does not have isolation rooms. Staff do not use force to extract compliance from detainees unless their non-compliance is unsafe. If the Clinical Director deems a detainee appropriate for isolation, he will need to be transferred from the facility

Abuse Allegations

Telos RTC is reported by many survivors to be an abusive program. Allegations of abuse and neglect which have been reported by survivors include social isolation (communication block), violent physical restraints, shame/attack-therapy, homophobia & conversion therapy, and emotional abuse/brainwashing techniques. There have also been reports of sexual abuse taking place at Telos RTC.

Survivor/Parent Testimonials

12/8/2020: (SURVIVOR) “i attend telos academy and here is an account on the covid precautions. I first arrived in september where I was quarantined for 7 days. In October, 4/8 of my room mates tested positive. Around 15 other students on the campus at this time also contracted covid. A few weeks later, another outbreak occurred where one more of my room mates got covid and there were outbreaks in other student apartments. right now I am quarantined because another room mate contracted covid. the precautions here are abysmal. students are not required to wear masks and many staff refuse to wear masks correctly stating that they already had it. once a week are things sprayed down with lysol and soap is often out in the bathrooms.” – u/rex2oo9 (Reddit)

10/7/2020: (EX-STAFF) “Hello, Ive noticed this forum is a good place to offer reviews on the Troubled Teen Industry and some of the facilities out there and offered. One facility i am choosing to focus on today is a horrifying place in Orem, Utah called Telos. Telos needs to be shut down instantly. It is nothing less than a Juvenile Detention Center classifying itself as an RTC. The success rate of former patients after Telos is horrifying. In the following years so many of the residents have gone on and passed away or found themselves into additional jailing. Its so frustrating to watch seeing a place charge struggling families $100,000 Plus for 9 Months just to ultimately hold them in solitary confinement. When i was there the residents were so miserable one night we even had a student run out and throw himself in front of a car on Center St. in an attempted suicide. As time went on i progressively realized how unfair this environment was to so many of these kids. I will continue into the future to fight for this place’s closing.” – u/ExplanationNo707 (Reddit)

9/16/2020: (SURVIVOR) “In 2016 after a ~4 month stay at pacific quest I was transferred into a living nightmare called telos academy. In the heart of Mormon county some of the staff didn’t even try to hide their dislike for me, specifically due to my sexuality. I was told once by a staff ‘try anything and I’ll knock you out’. One of my treatment goals was to ‘decrease shock value behaviors’ which they described as talking about my drag, makeup art, or sexual preferences. (I have this one on a printed sheet that I think is an official document for insurance or something? No other student I knew had a ‘treatment goal’ like that, even though the straight students would often make sexual comments towards females, often in conjunction with certain staff members). I tried everything to get my parents to let me leave, tried everything to get kicked out, compromising myself and my morals (and the funniest thing is I finally did get kicked out, but it was over a complete fabrication on the higher ups part, when the staff that was part of the fake incident, had a story that aligned with mine). Any contact with parents was heavily monitored and if you mentioned anything negative about the program they’d turn the phone off. They fed us random bizarre foods and nearly every student gained weight, all though they brag to parents about their healthy food they serve. We were given blanket punishments. I was made to do unpaid labor. A student was restrained in front of his parents for taking too long to pack his things for a visit. Some staff got off on the power trips. Some staff had no knowledge on how to interact with kids with autism and would straight up mistreat them. A presumably autistic student was routinely restrained in front of everybody. It became a show to some of the students. An adult, female teacher began a sexual relationship with a student and it was swept under the rug. Mormon beliefs were pushed on to students; ex. no hot drinks. Some staff would follow me into the bathroom in public because they claimed I would ‘suck dick in the stalls’. I would fantasize ways to commit suicide, never doing it because I didn’t know how they would explain it to my niece, they saw this in my journals/letters and then said I was using my niece to emotionally manipulate. The school was simplified to the point no one was learning anything. Art class was my only solace, then in the next semester they took it away and had me work in the kitchen to pay ‘restitution’ for a window I broke after being separated from my floor for weeks. The entire school was made to sit through a presentation by one of the owners, of all the students who had graduated previously, and died (names, pictures, stories and all: completely breaking hipaa) He seemed to get a weird enjoyment of our horror, even our floor staff was appalled by the ‘devotional’. I was made to cater the owners son wedding, but at least I got to see his mansion, and where all my parents’ money was going. For a period of time our floor was banned from doing paid activities, but did our parents get that money back? I’ll let you answer that. I left this place worse than I came in. They made me feel like I was a devil when everything I was doing was a cry for help to get me out of there. I cried myself to sleep nearly every night. No one would believe any of us, staff would say because we were ‘troubled teens’ we’re lying all the time. All of this in ~6 month period. Screw TTI. It broke some kids, but not me. And to those from Telos I have on this account, thank you for being some of the good apples, it was not all bad, but unfortunately the good does not out weigh the bad in my case. I still appreciate and am so thankful to you guys who made my experience a less hellish; Rachel, Alex, Makele, Ashley, Chase, Becky, Lynn and Evelyn, you guys were lights in that world of darkness and from the bottom of my cold little heart, thank you. Thank you to @parishilton @breakingcodesilence @suburbiasdirtylittlesecret for bringing light to this industry that kills the light in kids and manipulates families for profit. I hope we can save future at risk youth from these money machines.” – u/ianxrpdr (Reddit)

2018: (SURVIVOR)Parents please read this: I am a former student from Telos RTC. I was there for 5 months, January 17th – June 5th. First things first, I had an amazing therapist. He really helped bridge the gap between my parents and I. He also bent program standards based on my needs, or lack there of. That’s why i gave 2 stars, rather than 1. The school is not as it is advertised. Every student is given the same curriculum, which is made for middle school. After 7 months of “school” at Telos, I I got used to this level of work.(I continued the school after i went to Telos U)This really hurt me when I started to take college classes. I wasn’t ready for college level work at all. The schoolwork was meant to keep us busy, rather than to teach us anything. The food is not how it is advertised at all. Telos hired a 5-star chef, but the food did not match that standard at all. The food is barely acceptable for a prison, much less one of the top rated treatment centers in the world. Aside from piss poor quality, the kitchen has dozens of health code violations. I know this because after I signed myself out of Telos U, I worked for many restaurants. Apart from the obvious, the fridge has moldy food and food that’s months past the expiration date. I know that this food was being served, because on sundays, when no food is served, we make our own sandwiches from what’s in the fridge. There were open, moldy packets of cheese at the front of the fridge. Aside from this, the floor of the fridge was always covered in a rancid smelling brown liquid, and the walls of the fridge are covered in mold. The kitchen floor was seldom mopped, and the counters were less often sanitized. This did not stop the chef from cooking the owner a 5-star meal on a nightly basis with fresh, outscored ingredients. The residential area was the worst by far. When you first get there, you have to be within arms reach of a staff member, until you complete a packet of activities, which is understandable. Once you finish the packet, you have no trust whatsoever. There are many board games in the community space, but you have to be on tier 1, or 2 to play any of these. You start out on tier 0, which means that you can’t play any. In theory, you can read a book, however your therapist needs to approve it first, which seldom happens on your first month, while you’re being assesed. That leaves talking with peers, who are playing games, or staff, who are busy watching over the students. The staff are hit or miss. I got really lucky. Most of the staff on my floor wanted to be there, and really cared about us. Many other staff didn’t want to be there at all, and took it out on us. Its not uncommon for staff to give out random punishments, and spin stories. The therapists believe the staff, because our opinions meant less than nothing. When you do get to talk with peers, you can’t talk about real issues that your having because that’s apparently unhealthy for our treatment. Most of our time is filled with mind numbing activities to pass the time between the two hours a week we meet with our therapists My one complaint about the theraputical aspect of Telos is that if you’re 18, and can and want to sign out, therapists can’t or won’t do anything to help you find work or a place to live. Lastly, family days. Don’t think that anything you see on family days anywhere near resembles what Telos is actually like. They spruce everything up to impress you, then shut it all down the second you leave. We are so happy on family days, because at least your family treats you like a person. Family days is the only time most students are genuinely happy. The food is relatively amazing on family days. If your son attends Telos already, you know what I’m talking about. The food is mediocre to you, but your son will rave about how good it is the whole meal. That should give a perception on how the food normally is. In reality, everyone is always miserable. I hope this review helps prospective families, parents whose son attends the program, staff, and ownership.” – Zack (Google Reviews)

2017: (SURVIVOR) “To any lazy parent looking at google reviews to decide where to send their “troubled” child. First thing you should know. If you send your child away for 1 thing, the Telos staff will find $250,000 worth of problems the day they meet your son. I was held at Telos RTC for 11 month. During this time all i did was agree to fake issues that my “therapist” mentioned because they could never allow a student to finish his “treatment” before Telos breaks even on the cost of having him there. Telos therapy is a scam. The people working there are simply doing things any therapist can do, but because there patient cant leave until they tell there parents the therapist did a good job, they think if they just lie it will go faster. Another thing that should be noted is how little parents are informed on the process. I came home after my time at Telos to learn that my parents had next to no idea of what Telos was like. They spruce everything up for parents weekend and make them think everythings great when in reality people are miserable. Next is the school. I was forced to be at telos for 11 months. During which i was taking classes that didnt meet any standards and had no educational value. In addition to that, a few courses i took had no value. I took an online course for a full year of credit only to find out that because Telos didnt offer the spanish credit i need, i cant attend any UC schools. A big opportunity in my life gone because of the shabby basement telos calls a school. All the professionals ive encountered here at home have agreed that based on my reveiw of telos, they no longer recommend this establishment to the parents they work for.” – Kristopher (Google Reviews)

2016: (SURVIVOR)PARENTS READ THIS: I was a student of Telos academy 2 years ago. I was pulled from the program by my parents once they finally saw evidence of the claims I was making were true. this school is a scam. Nothing on the web sight about the academics program is true for example, My math class was for told to be a 1 on 1 attention and help environment but in reality, you go in and sit at a computer for an hour doing mindless math work while not a single word is spoken in the room. I will be writing a very detailed and longer review soon to come with a lot more examples and evidence and stories. Bottem line, I went to wilderness before telos and had a better, more productive time in wilderness, then when I came to telos the money started to pour out of our families pockets and I can tell you for a fact, I left this school with more issues than I had when I came in. Telos did not solve a single problem for me. They find a way to make it look like a family with group therapy and brothers by your side. This is not true unless you consider your family to be a group of higher powered authorizes that hover their power above you constantly as a reminder, your not in charge here, your parents can’t help you nor will they believe you. One more final example about how the web sight shows none of what the real school is about? We as students of telos academy were allowed to possed airsoft rifles and pistols, these weapons were kept at times in a shed and most of the time, IN YOUR DORM ROOM! SO do your research parents, don’t get scammed, don’t send your kid somewhere they wont be helped. I HAVE WRITTEN THE LONGER VERSION AND IT WILL BE LOCATED IN GOOGLE REVIEWS AS WELL” – Walker (Google Reviews)

Related Media

Telos RTC Website Homepage

Telos RTC Website (archived) (archived, 2010)

Secret Prisons for Teens – Telos RTC