A brave woman stands up against the infiltration of “progressive” ideology into psychotherapy

November 22, 2022 • 9:15 am

Meet Leslie Elliott, who’s studying to get a degree in mental health counseling at Antioch University in Seattle, part of the Antioch University system that includes the famous Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, famous for its radicalism. Apparently the Seattle school is also pretty woke, as you can judge from Elliott’s eight-minute video below, where she describes the horrific ideological “training” that passes for training in mental health therapy at Antioch.  Elliott’s still a student, and near graduation, but according to the video and an article at wng.org (excerpted below), she might not finish because she won’t sign an ideological pledge about social justice.  Elliott also works at a counseling service as a Holistic Wellness Coach and Consultant. She adds that she’s a “political liberal,” and I don’t doubt it. Someone who wants to go into non-M.D. psychotherapy is someone who wants to help people, not make money.

An excerpt from wng.org:

Leslie Elliott only has a few more courses to take in the graduate clinical mental health counseling program at Antioch University in Seattle before she can become a licensed clinical counselor. Yet she does not see how she can continue in the program because it is requiring her to endorse a “civility pledge” which violates her conscience. She is on a leave of absence to explore her administrative and legal options.

The pledge, which Elliott says is now included in most syllabuses, reflects the social justice mission of Antioch. It states: “I acknowledge that racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ableism, ageism, nativism, and other forms of interpersonal and institutionalized forms of oppression exist. I will do my best to better understand my own privileged and marginalized identities and the power that these afford me.” Antioch added the statement starting in 2020 after the death of George Floyd.

For Elliott, the offense came when the first assignment in one of her required courses was to affirm the pledge by rewriting it in her own words and stating her agreement. “That really felt like a purity test to me,” she said. “I felt compelled to confess to this worldview that sees myself as an intersectional group of identities that have privilege and marginalization attached to them, and I don’t agree with this framework. It feels like a theology, and it’s not my theology.”

A political liberal, Elliott knew social justice was a core tenet driving the ethical standards of the program when she entered it. But she soon learned that her idea of social justice was very different from that of her professors and administrators. To Elliott, social justice meant striving to provide access and opportunity and eliminating exploitation and unfairness when possible. “It seemed like a beautiful ideal you would find in most world religions and most positive philosophies,” she said.

But she found the teachings at Antioch opposed her beautiful ideal. Her professors and administrators viewed social justice as a critical lens through which Western society must be viewed to deconstruct cultural norms and values rooted in white supremacy, racism, and oppression of marginalized people. She believes this conceptualization of social justice is socially destructive and an anti-resilience philosophy.

The video below recounts a training designed to turn all mental-health counselors into social-justice advocates who turn all interactions involving therapy into issues about race. Counselors are also trained to place also people with gender issues onto a transitioning track, i.e., they’re trained in “affirmative therapy.”

Granted, this is one person’s take, but you have to admit that she’s courageous in taking on not just her university, but the very program that’s purporting to train her but in reality is indoctrinating her.  Still, all this description can’t match what she actually describes below.

The site also shows a response from Antioch sent to all students in the college—save Elliott (what a rookie move!)—implicitly singling her out for promulgating “white supremacy” and “transphobia”. Here we have the college acting like an online social-justice mob. The author of the college’s email, and presumably at least part of the “Commitment to Social Justice” statement, is Shawn Fitzgerald, CEO of Antioch’s Seattle campus and Dean of the Graduate School of Counseling, Psychology, and Therapy.

Clearly the “one person who posted online” is Eliott, who stands accused of transphobia, white supremacy, and “harmful ideologies”, as well as “hate speech”. The statement was certainly inspired by Elliott’s making the video above.  Eliott has posted another video detailing what’s below and giving her response.

The video above was posted about a month ago, while the statement issued by the College seems to be dated October 27—notlong after Elliott put up the video.

Elliott also has a Substack called “The Radical Center“. On it she’s published her response to Antioch’s “Position Statement” and its invitation to continue her coursework. I’ve put that response below. Elliott’s letter to officials at Antioch asks that the school refrain from retaliating against her (what’s above is simple retaliation) and affirming that she will continue speaking out and exercising her freedom of speech.

Here’s an hourlong interview of Elliott by “Martin’s Daughter”. I found it only this morning, so I’ve watched only snippets.

h/t: Luana

26 thoughts on “A brave woman stands up against the infiltration of “progressive” ideology into psychotherapy

  1. “… and other forms of interpersonal and institutionalized forms of oppression exist.”

    I really want to satirize this but deleted it all. “Other forms” – as in, anything else that’s bad, just in case, so nobody can fault us.


    A courageous move – best wishes.

  2. I am not entirely disagreeable to the pledge that appears in syllabi (there are structural classist, racist, etc. issues built into our society, imo), but the rest of their program is indoctrination and that is far too far. To say nothing of the blatant intimidation. She has made the right moves, as far as I can tell, and that is quite a terrific responding letter from her! But she is going to need some expert help as this thing will probably blow up even further and devolve to some sort of litigation.

  3. “I acknowledge that […] exist”

    This irritates me so – I mean, shouldn’t a graduate be responsible for reading as much as they can to evaluate claims and improve their understanding of real-world topics which rarely sort themselves into neat tidy cases of “exist” or “does not exist”, let alone be a conclusion-in-a-can from a nanny?

  4. Elliot is very bright and brave. I doubt the administration will accept the terms she has laid out. If she is forced out of the school, I hope she can, without too much trouble, pick up her sheep’s skin from a more amenable institution. She seems like the kind of counselor we need.

  5. Students need to pay attention. Ask when you apply if there are any pledges or oaths or commitments that are required of students to graduate or attend. If one is introduced, transfer. If one is introduced during a school year after tuition is paid, then be prepared to sue for changing the terms of your attendance. And if your school says you are a white supremacist sue for defamation.

    1. Now if I only knew what significance this has. But having no familiarity with Benjamin Boyce, and not willing to spend time just now on it, I’ll just have to let this one slide.

  6. Perhaps I have naively thought that the purpose of counseling and psychotherapy is to help clients meet individual challenges, not to change groups. While it is true that some mental challenges may result from association with certain groups, many, if not most, clients’ problems, such as depression, anxiety, interpersonal relations, financial woes, are not the result of one group oppressing the other, but of highly personal factors. Such people, usually paying a fee for professional help, are being denied they help they need if the therapist assumes, a priori, that oppression is the root cause of the problem. Even if the client’s problem is somehow related to oppression, how will that realization assist the person in feeling better? The therapists that adopt the Antioch model are opening themselves to malpractice suits.

    What has happened at Antioch is an example of how social or political movements (such as social justice) usually begin under moderate leadership with moderate goals. In time, the moderates are challenged by radicals, ideologically rigid and authoritarian in personality, that wish to take the movements in directions the original instigators find abhorrent. So, the question is: can the center hold? Oftentimes, the answer is no. The Chinese, French, and Russian (but not American) followed this pattern. The movements of gay and transgender rights seem also to follow this pattern as well as the fascist takeover of the Republican Party. The reason for this is that radicals, by their very nature, are unrelenting in their attempt to achieve their goals. On the other hand, moderates are moderate and hence do not have the psychological makeup to be unrelenting in maintaining dominance in causes and groups they believe in. And, in a larger sense, this is why democracy is always in danger. Authoritarian zealots are always nipping at its heels and one day could administer a fatal bite.

    1. A pithy remark that Bill Clinton had said in a speech many years ago was about the “strong and wrong” versus the “weak and right”. This was of course about the strident populists in the Republican party versus the more intellectual and nuanced voices in the Democratic party. Of course this now resonates everywhere.

  7. Good for her! If she completes her degree at Antioch, fine. If not, she will complete it elsewhere and forever be a critic of Antioch—loudly, one can only hope. Despite the mishegas, she has a bright future ahead of her. She is a fighter.

    The response by Antioch’s Shawn Fitzgerald is chilling, particularly the demand that students “refrain from engaging in unproductive dialog on social media.” An apparatchik putting dissenters on notice.

    I really want to see cases like this litigated. It’s hard to believe that this kind of forced speech is legal. It will take large judgments against this college (and others like it) to bring this kind of crap to an end. Sadly, court judgments may be the only way to restore sanity.

  8. I find this disturbing. When someone goes to a mental health professional they go to talk about what is on their mind and their feelings. Social justice issues are the school’s attitudes, perhaps not what’s on the person’s mind at all. How confusing for someone who comes to express what bothers them and they are introduced to societal issues. They are then told it’s an issue in society? Perhaps it is, but it should come from the person, not an agenda introduced by a mental health professional.
    Not a good way to do therapy.

  9. This is an old story with the Seattle branch of Antioch College. Years ago, one of their faculty was a professional Palestinian (born outside Palestine to parents who had left the region) who taught courses in Literature shaped around “resistance” etc. etc.. It would be no surprise if Antioch offered courses in “oppression, marginalization, and privilege” in Zoology, or “resistance” in Astronomy.

    This sort of thing will continue unless and until the country as a whole finally places academic degrees from institutions like this in the same category it currently assigns to degrees from colleges of astrology, graphology, and animal magnetism. When and if that happens, places like Ms. Elliott’s current location will disappear or change.

  10. The video was enlightening. Not too long ago I came across someone on social media telling about her shocking experience with a counselor. The writer explained that she had been raped by someone she trusted and was consequently having serious problems in her work and social life. In desperate need of therapy, she’d made an appointment with a local woman who had the necessary degrees and experience.

    I don’t remember the details, but at some point the session shifted from rape counseling to race and gender. The therapist told her she was privileged and her reaction to the attack and betrayal was embedded in this primary aspect of her perspective (or something like that.) Both she and the therapist were white. She ended up leaving in tears and poured her hurt out to the sympathetic anonymous strangers on a feminist forum. We were naturally appalled.

    I — we all — assumed the problem was with the therapist. Her judgement had been warped by personal ideologies which you never, ever impose on clients. It hadn’t really occurred to me that she had been trained as a counselor to do this and that it was becoming the standard.

    E gads.

  11. Years ago I read a memoir by a psychiatrist chronicling the process of becoming a psychiatrist and treating patients. He recounted a story of how as a Jewish psychiatrist he started treating an avowed racist who would often make racist comments in therapy. He summarized the therapy as rewarding and successful because he knew he was not there to treat the client for being a racist, but for the mental health issue he presented with. That treatment was successful. He told this story to illustrate the importance of both therapeutic detachment and empathy for all clients.

    It has always been a great worry of mine that Wokeism will enter into the practice of psychotherapy where people are most vulnerable and sensitive, and try and push clients toward certain views or even worse refuse them treatment if they aren’t the “right sort of person”. It wasn’t ok years ago when Albert Ellis described enabling a clients religious beliefs as enabling neurosis and it won’t be ok to try and treat people for the illness of holding unliberal ideas.

    1. It wasn’t ok years ago when Albert Ellis described enabling a clients religious beliefs as enabling neurosis and it won’t be ok to try and treat people for the illness of holding unliberal ideas.

      Is the former any different from trying to deprogram a cult member?

      1. I think to be considered a follower of a cult you need to approach that belief with certain psychological requirements that are not found in probably most people who are simply adherents of a religion. Certainly people can worship in their religion in a cult like way, but I don’t think the two are necessarily synonymous. Regardless, I don’t think it is the job of the therapist to deprogram someone from a cult either unless that specifically is the therapists job.

  12. Wow! There it is. I’ve been seeing a clinical Psychologist, PsyD, for 5+ years. She earned her degrees from the same university I went to for a graduate degree in Social Work. I went a few years before her, in the late 90’s. That slant (that Leslie describes) had already begun when I was a graduate student there. I quit because of it. I opened a bookstore instead. And that morphed into writing my own books.
    Back to the subject of therapy training. The Psychologist I’m seeing is a perfect model for how therapy “should” be done. I sought therapy (2017) at the suggestion of a PA after not finding anything physically out of whack with me. But I had sought care because of intense, chronic physical pain. The PA said, “Maybe you should talk to someone?” I said, “But they’re all liberals.” My pain kept getting worse and finally it occurred to me – maybe a Psychologist? Smarter, better trained, I thought. I googled “Psychologist near me” and lo, it didn’t take that long. Pain’s gone, and book’s published. Now were working on some other (more sticky) stuff.
    I don’t know how or what my doctor had to manage to get her degrees and license. But without her care, I’d be dead.

  13. Good luck to Leslie – there’s an eerily similar case in the UK right now, but I’m struggling to remember the student’s name.

  14. As if psychology and “counseling” didn’t have enough problems imagine the actual uselessness of supposed counseling infused with such dogma.

  15. There is a similar case in the UK. Amy Gallagher is taking the Tavistock Clinic to court over embedding Critical Theory into its training program for psychotherapists. Amy is arguing against the uncontestable nature of Critical Theory in the curriculum and the way it prioritises activism over the needs of an individual client.
    Let’s hope she wins.

  16. The ideology of satanism and sra explained by Wilfred Wong. He states that PUBLIC AWARENESS is key to protect humanity! This needs to be shared although it is a subject so horrific. please share so the public becomes aware of the reality of these practices. We need to stand up and expose. remember Balanciaga https://www.bitchute.com/video/AabVDdTurehB/

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