33. Therapists or Activists? The Ideological Capture of Counseling Education, with Leslie Elliott


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When you entrust a therapist with your personal struggles, you expect her to see you as a unique individual, and greet you with non-judgmental curiosity. The last thing anyone wants in their counseling relationship is to be treated prejudicially, stereotyped on the basis of their immutable characteristics, or made to feel guilty for the color of their skin. And yet, to students like Leslie, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that that is exactly what is being taught in graduate programs.

Therapy is a place you hope to be able to work through shame; learn to see your foibles with compassion; and internalize your locus of control, while releasing any undue sense of responsibility for issues you may have been scapegoated for. It is also ideally a process that helps cultivate peace, understanding, and perspective when dealing with people you find challenging. And in therapy, we expect to learn to recognize and correct for distorted ways of thinking that amplify our stress. Unfortunately, according to Leslie and whistleblowers like her, many modern counseling programs do just the opposite.

Listen as Antioch University whistleblower, coach, and founder of the Radical Center Leslie Elliott describes the disturbing series of events that unfolded over the past two years. We explore ethical dilemmas and differences of opinion in how people in our field are conceptualizing complex matters such as “social justice,” victimhood, “allyship,” gender, the role of the therapist, politics and activism, racism and “anti-racism,” cultural competence, stereotyping, neutrality, individuality, and responsibility.

Leslie Elliott is a holistic wellness coach in Washington State who works with clients from a person-centered, existential perspective, taking into account the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. She earned a BA in Psychology in 2008 and went straight to law school in 2009. During her second year of law school, she decided a legal career was not for her and went back to the drawing board.

Leslie spent the next several years raising her 4 children and working part-time in the field of natural medicine before returning to higher education, enrolling in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Master’s program at Antioch University in 2019. There she had the opportunity to learn and improve counseling skills and therapeutic approaches, but also encountered something deeply disturbing: the usurpation of traditional therapy values by Critical Social Justice ideology.

Near the end of her Master’s coursework, she took a leave of absence after her courses began requiring students to sign a Social Justice “civility pledge.” Frustrated in her attempts to communicate her concerns to the university, she decided to go public in October of 2022 and expose how ideology is corrupting the fields of mental health and higher education.

Undeterred from her work, Leslie began her coaching practice in late 2021, working in a non-clinical setting that allows her to use her counseling skills and her passion for natural health to support her clients. She works with individuals and families, and areas of interest include but are not limited to: life-span, aging, and fertility issues; parent coaching; spiritual growth and integration; technology and pornography addiction recovery; infidelity trauma and recovery; gender confusion and detransition; ADHD; institutional abuse & “DEI” discrimination; medical abuse trauma; and more.

Leslie’s consulting practice, The Radical Center

Leslie’s blog, The Radical Center on Substack

Leslie’s YouTube channel, The Radical Center on YouTube

Leslie’s GiveSendGo legal fund

In this episode, I mentioned Jonathan Haidt’s work; in particular, his book “The Righteous Mind.” You can find that in my bookshop, or purchase it directly from this Amazon Affiliate link.

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MUSIC: Special thanks to Joey Pecoraro for our theme song, “Half Awake,” used with gratitude and permission. www.joeypecoraro.com

PRODUCTION: Thanks to Eric and Amber Beels at DifMix.com

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43 episodes