Research Invitation for Adults Treated in their Teens in a Coercive Residential Program


Institutionalized Persuasion Book CoverA series of troubling recent expos's illuminate the underbelly of the adolescent substance use treatment industry, from Maia Szalavitz's Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids to Marcus Chatfield's Institutionalized Persuasion. Also of note are the proliferation of survivor memoirs (e.g., Cyndy Drew Etler s?The Dead Inside and Cindy Art's Trapped in Paradise: A Memoir) and websites that provide mutual support for survivors of abuses within the teen treatment industry. What has been missing within this rising concern about harm in the name of help is formal research on the experiences of teens who underwent treatment in programs like Straight, Inc. A research study is now commencing under the direction of Marcus Chatfield that will help fill this void. If you or someone you know were involved in one of these programs as an adolescent, I encourage you to read the invitation below and to participate in this research.


University of Florida




?Institute of Food, Agriculture, and Science?

Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences?

PO Box 110180

Gainesville, FL 32611-0180


Invitation to Participate in Research

Project Title: Adult Perspectives on Totalistic Teen Treatment: Experiences and Impact

IRB Approval Number: UF-IRB201701655

This is an invitation to participate in research conducted by graduate student, Mark Chatfield, of the Family, Youth and Community Sciences department, at the University of Florida. Mr. Chatfield is supervised in his research by his advisor, Dr. David Diehl.

Who is eligible to participate

Adults, aged 18 and over, who were in an intensive treatment program in the United States while under the age of 18, are eligible to participate.

For the purposes of this study, intensive programs have been defined by the following qualities:

  • Communication between residents, and with the outside world, was under strict control and contingent on good behavior.
  • Youth in the program were expected to monitor each other and/or report each other if they broke the rules.
  • The program philosophy emphasized the need to totally change or be completely saved.
  • To progress through the program, residents were required to complete a series of prescribed stages, phases, or levels of treatment.
  • Youth were required to participate in group sessions that involved confessions and/or confrontations.
  • The program had a strict system of rule enforcement, punishments, and/or inflexible consequences.
  • For some length of time, all aspects of life occurred under the authority, supervision, or permission of the program.

Adults who were in a treatment program that could be described by these characteristics are eligible to participate no matter how good or bad their experience was. This study is designed to assess a wide range of opinions and perspectives among adults who, for ANY reason, were placed in a program of this nature before the age of 18.

Purpose of the research.

The purpose of this study is to learn how such treatment methods were experienced and how the effects and impacts of those experiences are perceived and described by research participants.

What you will be asked to do.

This is a two-stage research project.

Online Questionnaire

In the first stage, all who are eligible are invited to participate in a brief online questionnaire that takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. No compensation will be provided for participation in this stage of the project.

Phone or In-Person Interview

In the second stage of the study, a small number of participants who completed the questionnaire and are interested, will be invited to participate in a one-hour interview that will be audio recorded with their permission. Most of the interviews will be conducted by phone but participants who live in the Gainesville, Florida area may choose to be interviewed in-person if they prefer. After the interview, participants who would like to receive a $15 gift card will be asked to provide a mailing address.


Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. You may complete the questionnaire without providing your name. If you are interested in participating in an interview, you will be asked to provide your first name, phone number, and email address. You will not be asked to reveal your last name. Any identifying information you provide, such as your email address and phone number, will be assigned a code number and no one other than Mr. Chatfield and his faculty supervisor will have access to the code's key. When the study is completed and the data have been analyzed, the list of codes will be destroyed. Your name and your contact information will not be used in any report. Any future publications about this research will not personally identify or disclose your identity.

Voluntary participation.

Your participation in this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating. You may refuse to answer any question without explanation.

Right to withdraw from the study.

You will have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without consequence.

If you would like to participate.

If you would like to participate, you may review the informed consent form and access the online survey at this LINK. If you know of others who might be interested in participating in this research, please share this entire invitation without editing. If you have any technical problems with accessing the survey, or if you would like more information about this project, please contact:

Mark Chatfield

Graduate Student

Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences

University of Florida

(352) 519-2792