This will be the final post at Impact Trainings Critic. I will let previous posts stay as they are, because it would be helpful to provide information to those looking into Impact Trainings.
A wise man has suggested that time I spend on this site is time I could be spending doing better things with my family, or serving others… or heck - even reading a good book. I’m going to listen to his counsel.
If you haven’t gotten involved with Impact Trainings, don’t. If you’re involved with Impact Trainings and it’s consuming your life, please find a way to forgive them and move on.
Since there isn’t printed information about what is taught at Impact, it becomes important to reveal some of their teachings in order to examine and determine if it is truth. Following are some of the one-line teachings that I remember from Impact and the negative “Impact” that I believe they can potentially produce:
“There is no hope”
At first glance this statement seems somewhat harmless if you believe how they try to explain that comment at the beginning of the training. Their initial teaching is based on the belief that you can’t just hope for things to happen because there needs to be committed action. That principle is true in everyday life experiences, but then as the training goes on they take it further and teach that you can’t depend on a Savior that you have to save yourself thus taking away any hope in Jesus Christ. Hans further teaches that Christ isn’t his Savior, just his best friend.
A woman that I have a tremendous respect for said it in a way that I believe all Christians can relate to:
“Servants of Satan have pleasing voices that mix truth with a seductive ether that can put us into a spiritual coma and keep us from seeking truth from the true Source. Beware of those who profess Christ while spewing subtle anti-Christ statements. Anyone who professes to believe in Jesus Christ but denies His divinity, no matter how many good deeds they have done, is anti-Christ.” -Sherri Dew
“There is no right or wrong. Either it works or doesn’t work for you.”
Here again, in some instances, this is true. There isn’t a right or wrong way to get cardio exercise, or there isn’t a right or wrong style to dress in, or a right or wrong way to decorate your home; but when it comes to moral issues, there definitely is a right or wrong. It is wrong to use illegal drugs, it is wrong to have an affair, and it is wrong to murder.
The problem with making decisions based on whether it works or doesn’t work for you is there is no in advance protection from the harm that is done by wrong choices. In order to find out if something works or doesn’t work, you would have to experience it. In the case of illegal drugs, for example, you would have to use the drugs, and let’s face it; it is possible for a time that the use of drugs could work for you. They could take away stress, be fun, and make you feel more confident in social settings. It would only be later, when you become addicted that they wouldn’t work so well for you but then terribly difficult to walk away from.
I have witnessed the application of this dangerous philosophy when it comes to becoming emotionally involved with someone else outside of marriage. At first it seemed to be “working for them,” and then later the damage to relationships and families was irreparable.
“I deserve instead of I need.”
Impact changes the language of the participates (a subtle way to control the mouth and thus the mind) to say “I deserve” instead of “I need or want.” This has the potential to create a selfish entitlement that takes away the personal responsibility of sacrifice and creates a sort of automatic expectation. This kind of language is especially used in the gatherings where people beg for money so they can go to more trainings. If they say they deserve assistance (help is always replaced by assistance, again word and thought control) then others feel some kind of obligation to give money because they are convinced they “deserve” it. All of this ultimately benefits Impact by filling their bank accounts.
This kind of belief also destroys marriages and families because Impactees start to claim that they deserve to be happy, and if they aren’t happy with their spouses then they are justified to move on in order to get what they “deserve.” There again, there isn’t any accountability in what they, yes, “need” to do in order to be a better spouse, in order to find greater happiness. Happiness is a great and lofty goal but it is something that comes from sacrifice and effort not just a gift that we automatically deserve. We have the right to the pursuit of happiness but it is a pursuit.
“There is no such thing as righteous judgment.”
This is a direct quote from Hans himself. Now, I will be the first to admit that there is way too much judgment, but there is such a thing as righteous judgment. I do not have the right to judge someone else and their worthiness, but I do have the right and responsibility to judge how something or someone affects me. If I know someone who uses drugs, for example, I shouldn’t be judging them, but I do need to make a judgment if that is something I want to participate in or if it is someone I want to spend time with. If I know someone who has been convicted of child abuse, it is not my place to judge them, but it is my right to judge whether or not I want them to baby sit my child.
It serves Impact well to try and get its trainees to not judge their influence or their teachings because then they can have a more submissive and impressionable audience. I have heard from a reliable source that in higher trainings they teach bizarre beliefs, and then tell them not to judge that belief but to just “put in on a shelf.” Then when they have been brainwashed even more, it is readily available to them.
My experience is that it is based on pop/new age psychology that has some elements of truth that can be productive, but then some elements that are false and can be destructive. That, in and of itself, is what can make the training so dangerous because it is delivered in such a way that makes it hard to wisely discriminate between truth and error. The further the training, the more bizarre and off track the teachings.
It can also be very dangerous in that the facilitators are not licensed to deal with real psychological disorders, and it can create an allegiance to the organization that asks for more and more money and time and emotional commitment to them rather than their real families. The volunteers seem to be people that are looking for a place to belong and are easily controlled and are certainly not qualified to facilitate nor guide anyone, especially someone who is vulnerable. Their seminars are also very secretive and they use manipulative techniques in lighting, music and false states of emotional highs and this is especially disastrous for someone with any addictions or any degree of emotional or psychology difficulties. The really ingenious element in the fact that you aren’t suppose to talk about your experience with anyone is that you create a natural curiosity in your family and friends so they want to attend the seminar so they can experience what you have been through, and you want them to go so that you can talk to them about it. Impact is really ingenious–ingeniously manipulative and controlling.
Impact also spends a lot of time and focus on recruiting new participants, and they encourage emotional and physical intimacy with other members of the group, especially an unjustified devotion and appreciation for their angels (the person that signed them up for Impact) in order to convince them to be someone else’s angel to receive that same kind of glory. They use subtle competition and manipulative techniques in the session that is exclusively devoted to signing other people up. I am sad to say that even with all my hesitations about the training, I got caught up in the manipulative competition and peer influence and signed people up. Luckily, before it came time for them to go, I had come to my senses.
The leaders of the seminars were, in my opinion, egocentric and created an allusion of being superior and more enlightened than the participates, which translated to being subject to control and unquestioning submission. I consider myself to be a highly educated and spiritually grounded person, and I even experienced getting sucked into their manipulations and agenda mainly because at first the teachings seemed to be somewhat consistent with my beliefs, although I had a “stupor of thought” all along. There were times when I wanted to challenge the teachings and the facilitator, especially Hans and his foul and degrading comments, but I knew that I would just be kicked out, so I just held my tongue. They have no room for anyone that would oppose them or their teachings, and they have a way of degrading and humiliating any opposition.
I have watched people leave their families and their long-held religious beliefs thinking they have found a better life only to come to a point where they were worse off than before attending impact because those false emotional highs weren’t based on truth or sustainable. It is really sad because Impact attracts people who are already having difficulties in their lives and they seduce them into that false temporary euphoria and then while they are still in that euphoric state, convince them to sign up other family members before they discover that it really doesn’t work. I have had to deprogram quite a few people and have had to come to terms with the resentment I have for their manipulations. Impact almost ruined someone’s life that I care a great deal about. I have also talked to two different psychologists that say that a lot of their work has been repairing the damage done by Impact. Another psychologist said that that kind of new-age psychology was discredited long ago.
The interesting thing is that my husband and I learned a lot from going to Impact. The biggest lesson is how much more we trust the real truths and the real source of inspiration, and we now have an increased desire to seek and trust those truths and not the philosophies of men. We also have experienced first hand how manipulative and deceptive the adversary is.
Impact Trainings has a lot of money. That means they get to control a much greater proportion of the message that anyone will ever hear about them. But there are a small percentage of potential “Impacters” who will do at least *some* research beforehand. We hope that they will find this site and others like it, and that some of them will think twice before getting involved in something that they may not have understood.
Because of the nature in which the company preys on the clients to recruit their friends and family, who knows that by helping one person reevaluate, there aren’t several people who will end up not getting involved.
In addition to sites like this, some potential unsuspecting customers will actually check the Better Business Bureau.
Unfortunately, in general a very small proportion of people that get poor service (end up believing they’re going to get one thing and get something WAY different than they bargained for) end up reporting it. Even so, Impact Trainings has had 9 complaints in the past 3 years. A not insignificant number. But based on what people are saying online, far too few. Because of a lack of awareness, some people have failed to register their complaint - possibly not realizing that because of this, others may continue to be victimized by the companie’s BUSINESS practices.
If you have had a complaint that could possibly be filed with the Better Business Bureau, look into filing a complaint today by clicking HERE.
According to the BBB website:
BBB strongly encourages consumers to first attempt to resolve complaints directly with the company, however BBB will not reject a complaint if a consumer has not taken this step. All complaints are processed by local BBBs, most often the BBB where the company is located. Historically, over 70% of complaints filed through BBB are resolved. In some cases, BBB mediation or arbitration may be offered to assist in resolution.
I might add that of the 9 complaints filed against Impact Trainings, 8 of them are now listed as resolved. This means that the BBB helped facilitate some type of resolution. It also means that the complaints are effective.
Some issues which others have complained about include:
Billing or Collection Issues
Service Issues (the service itself)
Customer Service Issues
Refund or Exchange Issues
The 9 complaints filed are for the previous 3 year reporting period. From what people have been sharing online, this should be much higher. Let’s build awareness of the BBB as a dispute resolution tool, and if you’re dissatisfied with the service you’ve received from Impact Trainings, follow the BBB guidelines before filing a complaint.
Best of luck to you. If you have a complaint about the service you’ve received from Impact Trainings, make it known, either to the company, to this website, or to the Better Business Bureau. You might be able to help someone avoid what you already went through.
If you get on a roller coaster for the first time, you’re likely to experience a lot of emotions. Anxiety, excitement, fear, lots of adrenaline, and endorphins also. To many it’s addicting.
There are known techniques which can make a person feel elated, depressed, excited. Because the mind is so powerful, you don’t just need a roller coaster to produce these effects. There are known manipulation techniques that can bring the same effects, but without the coaster. You can be sitting in a chair.
But often, you do need time. The mind has some protections from these types of manipulative techniques, otherwise you might feel the same way you do on a roller coaster just by watching a TV commercial or seeing a billboard.
It takes time to wear a person down. Why are certain trainings so long? Why wouldn’t a self-awareness company such as that described in the First Presidency’s letter simply make sure they didn’t conform to any of the descriptions mentioned in the letter? For example the long hours, late at night?
I submit to you it’s because it’s an essential part of the course: If they aren’t able to break through your mind’s defensive system, they aren’t going to be able to elicit the response that you’ll associate with an “impact”. It’s those feelings that some self-awareness groups will point to and say SEE! You’re a brand new you! Don’t you feel so… great!
I believe that these techniques, combined with the wearing down of a person’s “mental inhibitions” are similar to a roller coaster in that they produce great emotional feelings, but are really associated with little to no benefit.
It’s a scientific calculation - long hours, isolation, people in places of authority… they are similar techniques to what is used in interrogations. Is this why the long hours, even though they could get themselves to not fit the descriptions below? Is this why the isolation from your spouse or friends, so you’ll be isolated and they’ll be able to better break through your mental defense mechanisms?
I believe so.
To spout some beattitudes while you’re in the emotional state caused by these techniques, and therefore say: “See! You’ve learned these wonderful things! And don’t you feel good?” It’s like having a sign at the exit to the thrill ride that says “Don’t worry, be happy!” and claiming that the sign is in any way responsible for the feelings that are being felt.
A roller coaster is built by men to elicit a specific response. So are the isolation, long hours, strong authority figure and other techniques. They’re used by interrogators. They’re the reason that Stockholm syndrome exists in the first place. By combining them with unlicensed pseudo-therapy doesn’t mean that the pseudo-therapy is responsible for the short termed period of high emotion. It’s the cover for the other factors.
This is why even though it has been years since people were advised not to participate in groups that have these characteristics, these organizations haven’t changed - because that isolation, that long period of time to break you down is ESSENTIAL to the high emotional state which will get you to commit to the next training.
If you’re LDS and are attending or considering attending Impact Trainings, you may not be aware of this letter that was read across the pulpit in 2001.
I would like to contact other faiths in the area to see if their counsel wouldn’t be quite similar.
May 11, 2001
To: General Authorities and the following priesthood leaders: Area Authority Seventies; Stake, Mission, and District Presidents; Bishops and Branch Presidents
*Underlined* Self-Awareness Groups (to be read in sacrament meeting) *end underline”
It has come to our attention that some commercial enterprises promising heightened self-esteem, improved family relationships, increased spirituality and the like by participating in their programs are implying Church endorsement. Such claims are untrue and unfounded. *italicized* The CHurch has not endorsed any such enterprise. Neither should the Church’s failure to formally challenge any such enterprise coming to its attention be construed as a tacit endorsement or stamp of approval. *end italicization*
We repeat the counsel set for in the Church Handbook of Instruction, page 157:
“Church members should not participate in groups that:
1. Challenge religious and moral values or advocate unwarranted confrontation with spouse or family members as a means of reaching s one’s potential
2. Imitate sacred rites or ceremonies
3. Foster physical contact among participants
4. Meet late into the evening or in the early-morning hours
5. Encourage open confession or disclosure of personal information normally discussed only in confidential settings
6. Cause a husband and wife to be paired with other parties”
We strongly counsel against affiliation with any such group and warn against believing any claim of Church approval, tacit or otherwise, by any private organization offering “experiential” or “empowerment” training.
Gordon B Hinckley (Signed)
Thomas S Monson (Signed)
Jame E Faust (Signed)
The First Presidency
You know at the end of the drug commercials that we see on TV, we hear a litany of side effects they can cause? To me they sound pretty scary. I mean, yeah my allergies will feel better, but I may suffer from incontinence or a stroke? That’s pretty serious business.
How do those drug companies know about those side effects? And why do they warn us? Isn’t that bad for business?
Those medicines are regulated by the FDA, and they have to go through a lot of testing before they can be put on the market. There are trials after trials to prove the effectiveness of a drug, and also to study side effects before being released to the market. Unfortunately, this probably isn’t just out of the professionalism of the companies, but they do it because it’s required by law, and also out of a fear of the lawsuits they’d get if they went around hurting people. It’s a regulated industry, and rightfully so. You start messing with a person’s body chemistry, and who knows what’s going to happen. Every BODY is different, and you’ll get cases where a person’s body reacts differently to a medication than others will.
What about Impact Trainings and similar groups? When people start using learned manipulation techniques to get people to unlock deep emotional and psychological feelings, creating a highly stressful and confrontational environment, and then attempting to rebuild what has been torn down, how has this been studied? Does every MIND react in the same way, every time?
If such an organization had 30,000 past graduates, and 3 of the graduates had committed murder, blaming such an organization for being a part of what lead them to do it, that’s a 1:10,000 ratio. If a popular prescription med had a 1:10,000 ratio like that, would it still be on the market?
An internet search shows several “Ripoff Reports” where people claim other ills received from this training. Who regulates those side effects? What studies have been done to show that an unlicensed trainer can mess with the minds of 30,000 people without adverse consequences?
Unfortunately, there is no oversight as far as I can see.
Are the pharmaceutical companies evil? Do they have evil intentions? Surely not. Yet they’re overseen to help protect the consumer.
Since some LGATs offer themselves as an alternative to meds (I think there are plenty of alternative to meds as well) I find the double standard interesting.
In the beginning there was Scientology and Mind Dynamics.
Scientology and Mind Dynamics begat Werner Erhardt.
Wernet Erhardt begat EST,
EST begat Landmark Forum and The Forum,
Which begat Lifespring,
Which begat about a dozen Lifespring clones,
Which Lifespring did also begat Harmony Institute,
Who did begat Impact Trainings, even Impact Trainings by Hans Berger
(and it was this same Hans Berger who was named in a lawsuit as having stolen many dollars from Harmony Institute)
Thus we see how quickly the business of Scientology can be stripped of its Scientology, and leave the pure business of non-licensed therapy for the purpose of getting gain.