DANGER! Beware of These Therapists
Nicole Siegfried was recently promoted to Chief Clinical Officer for Alsana Eating Disorder Treatment & Eating Disorder Recovery Centers, aka Castlewood Treatment Centers. However, she was previously found guilty of engaging in numerous relationships with patients, patient harm, exploitative relationship, and failure to document professional work and maintain records by the Alabama Board of Examiners in Psychology. Yet Alsana Eating Disorder Treatment & Eating Disorder Recovery Centers, aka Castlewood Treatment Centers, promoted her to a position of power anyway. I would expect nothing less from this disreputable company.
Dr. Mark F. Schwartz, ScD. Lori Galperin, MSW & Dr. Richard C. Schwartz, Ph.D., have an unsavory history. All are working in the Mental Health Care Industry, with a focus on trauma. Their dubious combination of ideas and treatment came to a head at the Castlewood Treatment Center in Ballwin, MO, in 2011-2012. The devil is in details, as they say.
Dr. Mark Schwartz speaks about recovery memory therapy & multiple personalities, ideas long de-bunked by most professionals in the Mental Health Industry. Listed on his curriculum vitae are memberships in the International Society for the Study of Multiple Personalities and Dissociation & The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. Mark also lectured frequently for the controversial International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation (ISSTD). Galperin specializes in attachment problems, sexual dysfunction, trauma, and eating disorders. Her training includes hypnosis, EMDR, Internal Family Systems therapy & psycho-dramatic techniques; whatever that is? Dr. Richard Schwartz is the creator of Internal Family Systems therapy. I'll get back to him later.
The trouble begins with Mark Schwartz and Lori Galperin during the ’90s when cult hysteria was at its peak. This husband and wife team, although no longer married, were the directors at the Masters and Johnson Trauma Units at Two Rivers Psychiatric Hospital in Kansas City and River Oaks Hospital in New Orleans. Schwartz, quoted in a St. Louis Magazine article in 1998 says "nearly 80% of the 3,000 patients they treated at the clinic since 1992 were victims of childhood sexual abuse." St. Louis Magazine also described Schwartz & Galperin as "experts in hypnotherapy." A therapist who worked with the pair at River Oaks shared in the same article that they had patients who believed they had multiple personality disorders because they had been abused by their parents or other members of a satanic cult. This therapist also shared that patients would walk the floors with their teddy bears trying to get in touch with their childhood personas. Mark would greet each patient saying things like, “who am I talking to today?"Another media investigation found lawsuits filed against Two Rivers and River Oaks hospitals for implanting false memories, multiple personalities, and satanic ritual abuse while Schwartz and Galperin were in charge there.
In 1999 the couple founded and co-directed The Castlewood Treatment Center in Ballwin, MO. Castlewood specialized in eating disorders while also touting treatment for trauma, and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which was formerly known as multiple personalities.
In November of 2011, the first of four malpractice lawsuits were filed against Castlewood Treatment Centers and Dr. Mark Schwartz, all charging careless and negligent psychological treatment. Furthermore, the lawsuits stated that the plaintiffs, under the Direct Care of Mark Schwartz, were coerced into being hypnotized and heavily medicated with powerful psychotropic drugs, causing the development of false memories. The plaintiff’s causes of action were surprisingly similar to each other, declaring their false memories included: satanic ritual abuse, multiple rapes, suffering sexual abuse from family members, and believing they had multiple personalities. By December of 2012, Nancy Albus, a former director at Castlewood, was elected CEO, while St. Louis News 4 reported that Schwartz and Galperin had stepped down from daily operations. Eventually, the four malpractice lawsuits each settled to the agreement of all parties, with a gag order in place. A source close to the litigants stated that "the plaintiff would agree to dismiss their case in exchange for a large cash payment." In January of 2013, Castlewood Treatment Center settled a discrimination lawsuit brought by the US Department of Justice for incidents at the Ballwin, MO location in 2010, while the business was still under the direction of Mark Schwartz and Lori Galperin. Then BIG changes happen, but then again, not really.
With nothing preventing them from returning to the same “therapeutic” techniques they employed at Castlewood, Schwartz and Galperin skipped off to California, where they opened a treatment facility called Harmony Place Monterey. Although Mark Schwartz holds a Marriage & Family Counselor license in CA, he treats patients for addiction recovery, eating disorders, sexual addiction, and trauma, according to information relayed from a patient treated there. It didn’t take long for other patients to tell of harm resulting from treatment involving the pair at Harmony Place, Monterey.
Meanwhile back in Missouri in 2018, Mark Schwartz’s license to practice psychology was CENSURED for various violations when he practiced there, by the Missouri State Board of Psychologists. To avoid further disciplinary action by the committee, Schwartz entered into another settlement agreement. As a result, Schwartz is no longer permitted to practice psychology in Missouri. Also, the multi-location Castlewood Treatment Centers renamed itself Alsana, probably to distance themselves from the Schwartz lawsuit debacle. Staff and leadership ideals remain basically the same according to patients who continue to report abuses suffered while in treatment with the organization.
In August of 2020, Mark Schwartz received disciplinary action and was ordered to pay a fine from the licensing board in CA for lying on his application about his censure back in MO. Okay, how many times can this guy wriggle out of consequences before someone in authority holds him accountable? The entire Mental Health Treatment Industry is big business in America. Maybe they all cover for each other?
Now, let me tell you about Dr. Richard C. Schwartz, PhD., the creator of Internal Family Systems therapy (IFS). Richard Schwartz, or Dick as he is often called, has worked with Mark Schwartz and Lori Galperin for 20 years or more, co-authoring academic articles, training other therapists, producing webinars, and offering workshops to the public. Multiple former Castlewood Treatment Center patients reported that Dick would often “sit in” on their individual therapy sessions with Mark Schwartz without explanation. Dick has denied treating any patients while at Castlewood in 2011 & 2012. However, Dick Schwartz is featured in an expensive-looking, glossy, 36-page brochure for Castlewood Treatment Center, as a clinical consultant. Now, clients have the right to confidentiality and an explanation of its limits, including how interdisciplinary professionals are involved in their treatment plan. So, either Dick Schwartz was part of the treatment team at Castlewood and lied about treating patients there, or he violated the ethics of his profession. I don’t think it is possible to have it both ways.
As its creator, Dick Schwartz pushes IFS certification at mental health care workers for prices starting at $3,400 for Level 1, $2,500 Level 2 & $1,500 for Level 3. The core ideology of Internal Family Systems is; “it is in the nature of the mind to be subdivided into multiple parts or sub-personalities.” Some of the parts are further described as “Raging Firefighters” that flare into fury when threatened, “Exiles” represent psychological trauma, and “Family Members” that can have fantasies, preferences, and emotions. IFS training modules teach therapists to ask leading questions like: Does your inner critic have a shape? A name? An age? What are they dressed like? If you were to draw a picture of it, what would it look like? Therapists are taught to prompt patients to provide more and more details about parts and situations, often traumatic, related to their parts throughout “treatment.”
In my opinion, IFS therapy has lead to misdiagnosing patients with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and the development of false memories of sexual abuse. Many patients from Alsana/Castlewood have been told they have DID while their actual medical records do not include that official diagnosis, even though the 10-bed facility runs a weekly support group for patients with DID. Since the lawsuits, Alsana and Harmony Place Monterey seems to shy away from using the term officially. Although both treatment centers still promote IFS therapy. Parents and family members of some IFS patients were falsely accused of heinous crimes and needlessly forced to pay exorbitant legal fees to defend themselves as the result of Internal Family Systems therapy gone awry. Dick Schwartz claims to be dismayed by what he calls a "misuse of his therapy model at Castlewood Treatment Centers." Yet, he continued to partner with Mark Schwartz & Lori Galperin on many projects as recently as 2019 at Harmony Place Monterey without any genuine remorse or repercussions.
Anyone considering therapy that involves any one of these three should contemplate the risk they are taking very seriously. The results could be as catastrophic as my families’ experience with them. Castlewood Victims Unite provides support and advocacy to anyone who has been harmed by Mark Schwartz, Lori Galperin, or Dick Schwartz.