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Counseling group denies abusing Boston students; says problems are all the kids' fault

The Globe reports the group with the counselor whom BPS paid to make student leaders cry is absolving itself of any wrongdoing - and says the way to fix all the problems is for the kids to get more of its "counseling."

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Still, Jackins’s letter said RC was under attack by members of an organization for young people who said “they had been pressured into participating in activities that were based on RC ideas.”
. . .

It offered no apology or sense of responsibility for the students’ experiences, even though some of the students’ most difficult encounters occurred outside of BPS, at RC workshops with adult RC members. A spokeswoman for RC, Nancy Sterling, said the organization “has no information on any mistakes which may or may not have been made; therefore there was no need for the organization to apologize.”Without offering specifics or naming the student advisory council, Jackins’s e-mail offered advice on handling mistakes, saying they should be “recognized, corrected, and apologized for,” but Jackins did not acknowledge or specify any mistakes.
. . .

RC deployed the same strategy 40 years ago when it decertified teachers and closed chapters after members revealed that multiple women had accused the group’s founder, Harvey Jackins, of sexually exploiting them during counseling sessions, according to a 1993 report in Activist Men’s Journal. Harvey Jackins, who was Tim Jackins’s father and died in 1999, denied the allegations.

Who let this cult into the public schools?

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Who let this cult into the public schools?

I'm going to go with the same people who are now letting in another cult, the BPS administration.

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Man, these people just take the cake. So brazen! I'd say somebody at BPS dropped the ball, but they're such idiots they never even HAD the ball.

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BPS is huge on ABA, despite all the opposition to it and lack of evidence that it does anything helpful, and it's so ingrained into the teaching for autistic students that it's nearly impossible to get an IEP there for an autistic student that doesn't use any ABA practices.

RC is similar to ABA with regards to using fear and shame to force people to act certain ways. It's just only being complained about because it's being done to nondisabled kids and is done by unlicensed people.

More on ABA for the unfamiliar. A lot of first-person narratives at the beginning, scientific articles lower down: https://stopabasupportautistics.home.blog/2019/08/11/the-great-big-aba-o...

Other useful ABA articles:

https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/AIA-08-2017-0016/ful...

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23311908.2019.1641258

https://www.altteaching.org/us-government-reports-that-aba-doesnt-work/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24408342/

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For emotional abuse and unlicensed practice of therapy.

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It doesn't put you at ease if you have kids in the BPS knowing this cult was approved tby administrators. Our school system is an embarrassment.

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or licensing should not be doing “counseling.” I know it’s not a guarantee of quality but at least if they are licensed, there are standards and ethics and a Board that you can complain to and real consequences for wrong-doing.

It seems everyone’s a counselor these days and some of them do real harm. Whoever approved this group in the BPS and failed to scrutinize them should be fired.

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As an actual licensed mental health counselor, I am beyond appalled that BPS allowed this group to do this “counseling” at all. And Jenny Sazama should be charged with practicing without a license. There is a reason we go to graduate school to study this profession and have to pass a licensure exam and get supervision and take continuing education in order to do the work of counseling/therapy. Any and every parent who had a child exposed to this group should sue both the group and BPS.

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Also a licensed clinician in MA.

Massachusetts does not regulate "counseling" or "therapy." Only misrepresentation of a particular license would be punishable.

This is actually a good thing, because the mainstream counseling field is currently not in a place where we do well at serving a lot of marginalized folks (or welcoming marginalized folks into the profession and truly supporting them to get licensed and hired in equal numbers). A lot of folks need to look outside the mainstream fields to find appropriate support. We don't want to make it illegal for someone to go to a religious counselor, or traditional healer, coach, or whomever they prefer. (Imma roll my eyes at the many local "life coaches" whose business is a pyramid scheme teaching you to be a life coach, but that's another story.) What we do want to do is increase public advocacy that people don't have any recourse if they choose to go to an unlicensed provider, but still allow them to choose.

There's also the issue that licensing and regulation still don't address or prevent a lot of harm that is done by professionals. BCBAs are permitted to engage in force-feeding, withholding food or restroom, and teaching people to extinguish protests and communication of distress. There is ample research that many ABA practices are harmful, yet they persist. We have a facility in Massachusetts that administers cattle-prod-type electrical shocks to "train" humans. The Evergreen model of attachment therapy continues to be practiced by mainstream licensed folks despite being complete quackery that has killed people.

Many licensed providers of various disciplines practice in ways that are rampantly ableist, racist, transphobic, and so forth, and there is little recourse even with licensed providers. Most actions are protected as long as they are "in good faith." The evidence isn't great that we're doing any better as licensed/mainstream folks.

FWIW, I'm very much a pro-medication and pro-science provider and parent, but my multiply marginalized family members have gotten both great care and awful harmful care from state-of-the-art award-winning mainstream programs, and have gotten some great care from carefully selected non-mainstream folks who had skills the mainstream places couldn't deliver.

I agree that BPS should be using high-quality providers. But this instance shouldn't stand out only because of the licensure issue; there are a ton of outdated and ableist practices occurring in BPS by people who hold mainstream licenses. We need to stop deluding ourselves that we in the mainstream professions don't cause harm.

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I am also a licensed mainstream professional and I am not delusional.

You make some valid points. Alternative methods of support can be helpful for adults who consent to them. However, the point of this story is that RC had no business practicing “counseling” in the BPS with minor children.

Did the parents/guardians even know what was going on? Did they consent to this treatment? As a former BPS parent, I would be livid if this organization ever came in contact with my kids.

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Lots of good points, but I think in this case many of them aren't really related to this particular instance.

I was not suggesting that licensed clinicians don't ever cause harm and there are certainly some bad ones out there. You seem to have particular issues with ABA, which I am not very familiar with. I take your point, though, that some licensed people may engage in harmful practices while some unlicensed/untrained folks can be helpful.

In this case, though, Sazama and the entire RC group were dealing with trauma. As you know, trained and licensed professionals are governed by some body (in my case the National Board of Certified Counselors, but others may be the APA, NASW, etc). They have codes of ethics, one of which is that you do not do therapy or use techniques you are not trained in. If you are not trained in treatment of trauma, you can cause severe damage to your patients/clients, even risking their lives. You absolutely do not encourage them to "flood", especially if you have not helped them developed containers for their emotional responses or coping mechanisms to manage themselves, particularly when they begin to dissociate. What this group did was absolutely irresponsible and dangerous. Had they been trained they should have known that (or at least known that they didn't know enough to do what they were doing). They put kids' lives at risk.

Are there therapists who also don't know what they are doing in treating trauma or other conditions? Sure, but hopefully continuing education requirements can help mitigate some of that. And a complaint to the governing board can go far to either ensure they get trained or stop them from practicing entirely. Unlicensed people aren't required to do anything. In fact, your suggestion that untrained/unlicensed clinicians have a legitimate place, where people can choose whichever they prefer, works against getting licensed at all. With no governing body for those folks, there's no one to discipline them for their malpractice, no consequences. Why bother keeping the license if I can just keep doing what I do and not have to answer to anyone? The public doesn't understand all the licenses and requirements anyway.

Your kids' teachers have to be licensed. The school nurse has to be licensed. Anyone doing any kind of "counseling" or "therapy" or whatever term they want to use should be licensed. When I worked for the Home For Little Wanderers I was placed in BPS schools doing therapy, I had to be licensed. What the hell happened that they allowed this group in?

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... needs to hold a real hearing on this. This stunt seems to have been utterly irresponsible. How much did Boston pay these folks to torment our students? And who approved the decision to do this?

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that the only way to get your money back from a Ponzi scheme is to invest more. But with brains.

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