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Sexual Abuse
Soul of Soulwork
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Therapist Abuse
Training Abuse



Interview with Martyn
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Solutions for Abusive Trainers & Abused Students
Steps to Emotional Freedom Martyn Carruthers 2005

Online Help: Coaching, Counseling & Therapy

What were your relationship consequences of trainings you have attended - especially if suggestion, hypnosis or belief change were themes of the training?

Incompetent, Abusive and Toxic Training

Some training programs have unpleasant consequences for participants. Examine the course topics, the trainers and the training style. While many trainers would dislike being called manipulative, some might be pleased ... it's what they do best.

Workshops and trainings with topics such as How to Make People buy Your Products often ignore long-term consequences in favor of short-term goals, but provide information that people will pay for. Topics such as Financial Success with Little Effort may be a ruse for manipulation, hypnotic language and coercion, with unadvertised consequences that you neither expect nor want.

Trainers who Abuse Students

Some teachers inspire students - and some extort money or sexual favors from participants. Some trainers use students as substitutes for laboratory rats. Does a trainer attempt to:

  1. limit your behavior or increase your flexibility?
  2. present their own values as a model for your life?
  3. install beliefs rather than provide useful information?
  4. test the consequences of their information in your life?
  5. express relationship behavior that inspires or damages relationships?

Some trainers attract the lost and the weary with promises of respect, success and power. But if people who dislike toxic training try to leave - they may be called quitters, regressive or learning disabled. We often help people who feel trainer disabled.

Training Types

As trainings can include any combination of topics, we use a hierarchy of abstraction of type of information and the role of the trainer. See: Steps to an Ecology of Mind by Dr. Gregory Bateson) :

  Type of Information Role of Trainer
Sense of Life Overall sense of fulfillment Priest or Guru
Relationships Defining self in relationships Evaluate & change relationships
Priorities Choosing personal values Evaluate & change priorities
Performance Choosing personal beliefs Evaluate & change beliefs
Capacity Replicate or create skills Improve ability to learn
Behavior Techniques and skills Provide repetitive techniques
Real world Test knowledge in real world Help interpret feedback

We believe that testing knowledge in the real world, not in a classroom or laboratory, should be a basis of learning. Only real-world tests can show whether or not strategies are valid and valuable in the contexts for which they were claimed.

A trainer's sense of life may be an overt or covert part of their training. A trainer's maturity and integrity are critical, especially in longer trainings. We help people evaluate whether a specific training or a trainer is likely to provide clarity or confusion:

  Healthy  Unhealthy
Sense of Life Clear sense of integrity Confused sense of life
Relationships Clear relationships Violated promises
Priorities Clear values Confused priorities
Performance Clear beliefs Limiting or dependent beliefs
Capacity Clear improvement Reduced capabilities
Behavior Clear performance benefits Confusing techniques
Real world Tests show obvious benefits Tests show uncertain results

To evaluate overall training effectiveness, we enquire whether a training offer testable specific results for specific actions in specific contexts. Does a training include real-world tests to prove that the promised results are gained? How does a trainer recommend that students test and use the material?


Overall Training Effectiveness

Sense of Life

How do you experience your sense of life since the training?
Identity How do you experience your relationships since the training?
Values How do you enjoy your new priorities since the training?
Beliefs How do you feel about the training context since the training?
Modeling What was the result of your test your skills since the training?
Behavior What was the result of your test for behavior since the training?

Real World

What checks were used before, during and after the training to test the validity of the material in the real world?

What is Abusive Training?

Many courses are available to people seeking help or wanting to help others; and many trainers say that they can fulfill these needs. Yet some unpleasant consequences tend to haunt abusive trainers and their students. Questions that we find useful are:

  1. How can you recognize trainer abuse?
  2. Which trainers damage their students?
  3. How can you recognize abused students?
  4. How can people recover from toxic training?
  5. What does the trainer do to prevent student abuse?

Cult characteristics provide a useful measure of organizational dysfunction which can lead to abuse in training. Many cult characteristics include dimensions of compliance and control. Some are:

  Role of Trainer  Role of Cult Leader
Sense of Life Mentor, Facilitator or Coach Priest or guru
Relationships Provide models for relationships Conformity with trainers
Priorities Provide models for priorities Closed narcissistic systems
Performance Provide models for beliefs Offers dogma and secrets
Capacity Develops learning flexibility Creativity is a liability
Behavior Teaches techniques Teaches rituals
Real world Helps interpret feedback Avoids real world tests

Recognizing Abused Students

People who receive abusive training or mentorship may later suffer mentor damage. Some common consequences of mentor damage are:

  1. Distrust self and own decisions
  2. Distrust all trainers and mentors
  3. Increase dependent relationships
  4. Feel depressed & with less sense of life
  5. Become less able to develop healthy friendships or partnership

I took a NLP course on hypnotic sales techniques. I was hypnotized by the
trainer and students. Soon, love and spirituality were just word games ...
my wife and I divorced ... she got a restraining order to stop me seeing our children ... but my sales did improve.

There are consequences to the people who practice manipulative techniques.
Do you stay close to people who do these things to you or who boast
about their passive-aggressive behavior?

Continued in Trainer Abuse 2

Do you want to solve emotional or relationship problems?

Online Help: Coaching, Counseling & Therapy

I thought you were just another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright Martyn Carruthers 2005-2018 All rights reserved.

If you like our work, please link to us. If you know someone who might benefit,
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For online help, email us at:

Soulwork systemic coaching in America & Hawaii


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Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email