This testimony was found on Yelp. All rights goes to the author.
My experience at Trinity was torture for me. I was not what you would really consider a troubled teen. Worst grade I had in High school was a C, I did not party, do drugs, or have sex. I did have communication issues with my parents and that is what I was sent to Trinity to address. I felt that the information my parents found on Trinity before sending me was misleading and the issues could have been better addressed in family therapy rather than a residential treatment facility. I was there from May 2008-Aug 2010.
I was sent at the age of 17, after getting drunk for the first time at my oldest brother's wedding. I was there for 26 months. During that time I saw my parents twice. I was not allowed to see my brothers or my grandparents. My grandmother died during my stay and I was not allowed to attend her funeral. Communication with my parents was monitored very closely. If anything I said on a phone call was seen as negative by staff I lost my phone privileges with my parents. I felt forced to say what staff wanted to hear even if it wasn't the truth for fear of losing contact with my parents. If the letters I sent were not considered "positive or uplifting" they were returned to me to rewrite. This was the only contact I had with my parents over the two years.
I have done research since leaving on the behavior modification model, also known as coercive persuasion. I encourage parents to do some research if you are considering residential treatment for your teen. The environment of this center feels very similar to a cult and masks abuse (physical, psychological, and emotional) as "tough love". I have had many other girls confide the same feelings to me since leaving. I was left feeling isolated, sleep deprived, overworked, and desperate to get home. Even after I turned 18 I was told that I was not allowed to leave. I was never informed of my rights. I was terrified to even ask because I did not want to be knocked down levels for being "defiant" or "manipulative". It is a constant state of fear. The "challenges" were assigned to either humiliate or break a certain behavior. I felt that very few of the challenges I endured actually had any positive effect on me.
The program is run on a "need to know" basis. The staff never disclosed how long I was to be there. My parents thought I would only be there for a few weeks. The anxiety behind not knowing the length of stay or even when the next time I could see my parents was unbearable. Any "change" I believe was inspired by the stress and were not effective outside of the ranch. After two years I had only reached level 3 of 6. I can't imagine how long it would have taken me to graduate. My stay cost my parents about $200,000+ dollars. My relationship with my parents after was still a mess. I felt lost and confused when I left, even though the staff claimed I was in a good place. I was 19 which I believe played a major part in me being able to leave. In my opinion, the truth was that nothing about Trinity had prepared me for re-entering the real world. Everything they had "taught" me there I felt was a lie and had no real world value.
I felt like the exorbitant amounts of money spent to keep me here should at least have afforded us things such as clean unused underwear, and clothes.
The Government Accountability Office website has thousands of reports of abuse regarding the troubled teen industry due to the lack of regulations. Trinity claims on their website, "As a Christian based Residential Treatment Center, Trinity Teen Solutions uses individualized treatment plans to help your child be a functioning part of today's world with the least restrictive environment possible." I feel that this is a lie based on my experience. I feel that the ambiguity depicted on their website does not accurately depict the level of restrictions and discomfort that they are exposing teens to. I felt that I had no freedom, no support; only fear, deprivation and isolation. We as humans need to be loved and accepted and will adapt to the environment around us to survive. That is what I did here, I survived, but I am left with the aftermath of the abuse and it will forever be part of my life.
I want you to know that I'm coming from this with 11 years of perspective. I have worked hard outside of Trinity to repair relationships with my family, but Trinity did not help me accomplish that. I believe that any success I have had in life is in spite of it. I am now happily married with 3 beautiful girls. I could never imagine putting them through a place like this. It is my job as their parent to protect them. I still to this day have nightmares that I get sent back (10 years since I left). My parents and I are on great terms now that they have seen me reach my potential as a mother and adult. It took us years to reach this place and to leave the hurt that Trinity caused us in the past.