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About Steven Hassan

August 14, 2011

It appears that Steve Hassan’s name  has now been brought into the smear campaign against me, although whether this was done with or without his knowledge, by his supporters or by the usual people who have nothing to do with him, remains to be seen. My criticism of him is being misportrayed and misrepresented, accompanied by the usual lies about me regarding FSU posted by certain anonymous people. The well-documented fact is that I left FSU only because I graduated and I left in good standing in every way, have good teaching evaluations, no student complaints and did not engage in sexual misconduct of any kind with faculty or anyone else and I have the references and teaching evaluations to prove this.

My criticism of Steve Hassan is being misrepresented in these posts that say I am calling for the revocation or suspension of his license. That is not so. First of all, I do not have the power to revoke or suspend his license. The only thing I would have the power to do is file a complaint with his state board, and I have not filed any such complaints against Steve Hassan although it would seem that some people imagine that I have. I have criticized him for what I consider to be his exorbitant fees, as many others have over the years including Rick Ross, who posted on his website, the following after Hassan posted a (now deleted) response to Ross on his website. Rick Ross wrote:

This somewhat heated response popped up on Steve Hassan’s “Freedom of Mind” website after the Ross Institute (RI) posted a disclaimer regarding the cult specialist’s fees. Complaints were received from families about the rates Mr. Hassan charged for services, which reportedly were $500.00 per hour and/or $5,000 per day. Some families mortgaged homes to pay him. Mr. Hassan refused to specifically respond to the substance of the complaints. That is, until a disclaimer went up that stated RI did not endorse or recommend Steven Hassan due to complaints received. After that was done for the first time Mr. Hassan publicly posted his fee schedule, which was reduced to $250.00 per hour and/or $2,500.00 per day. Once Steve Hassan reduced his fees and made this public, the RI disclaimer was taken down. Nevertheless Mr. Hassan appears to be miffed, and seems to think responding to complaints received about him is somehow a “personal attack.”

Note: Since these comments were posted Steve Hassan has removed his formerly publically posted fee schedule. His website now adivises, “Please call my assistant Debra […] during office hours with any questions about fees.”

However, $2500 a day and $250 per hour (higher on weekends and holidays), from my point of view is still quite high for someone with a masters degree in counseling. He makes more in one hour than the average person can make in a full day of work.  His fees are accompanied by the requirement that clients pay him $100-$250 per hour (depending on whether a weekday, weekend or holiday) for his travel time, plus he will not take flights earlier than 9AM or arriving later than 9PM and tickets must be at least business class. Yes, that’s right. He gets paid $100-$250 per hour just to sit in the business class or higher section of a plane. His $2500 a day fee escalates to $2750 for weekends and $3000 for holidays. That being said, none of this is grounds for suspension of his license and he has a right to charge this, as long as he states this up front to clients, which according to what someone posted who was considering his services, (this is consistent with my own first-hand knowledge of what he charged when I was associated with him) he does although he has chosen not to post them on his website. That being said, I also have the right to disagree with what he is charging and criticize him for it. However, there are families who are desperate enough and have the financial wherewithal or are willing to go into debt to come up with money they so not have, to pay these fees and no matter how desperate, they are responsible for being good consumers and doing their homework (although there are those who would consider charging high fees to desperate people to be price gouging). As a mental health consumer advocate, all I can do is urge people in this position, even if desperate for help, to take responsibility to be good consumers, do their homework and look into what kind of evidence there is that the approaches being offered are effective and do no harm (and no, client testimonials are not good evidence). People are, of course, free to disregard my opinions and hire whomever they wish to.

I have also criticized the claims he has made about the superiority of his approach, that lack scientific evidence to support it but I have never accused him of fraud and it appears that Mr. Hassan sincerely believes in the claims he is making. I fully realize that none of this would be grounds for a Board complaint, much less revocation or suspension of his license and I am not asking for that.

As a general comment, just to give the readers an idea of the kinds of offenses that are actionable  (I am not meaning to apply these to Mr. Hassan) examples of offenses that would be grounds for a complaint would be dual relationships with clients or violation of client confidentiality, but I have not accused him of that and have never filed a complaint against him.

If these postings were made by supporters, it appears that Mr. Hassan has some supporters who will stop at nothing to defend him, including participating in the nasty smear campaign against me, which includes outright lies. It is worth nothing that although Mr. Hassan is part of the International Adoption community, he has thus far remained silent on the controversial therapies employed by some self-proclaimed experts on international adoption and so it is unclear whether he supports the forms of therapy that I have criticized. He has, however, made recent statements to the press that have bought into some of the same myths that they have, such as the myth that sociopoaths and mass murderers are the way they are because they did not attach to their mother. There is simply no evidence for that and this kind of myth is in about the same category as the outdated and discredited  Refrigerator Mother theory which also blames attachment to mother without basis.

Who the anonymous posters are who are attacking me regarding Steve Hassan remain to be seen, but their behavior of smearing critics certainly is not the kind of behavior one would expect from someone who is an activist against cults and presumably cultic behavior.

The most ludicrous lie that has been posted is that I am “litigious”. Hardly. I have never sued anyone in my life. I was, however a defendant in a now-dismissed case against me by Ronald Federici. Click here for details. Ironic that the cyber smear campaigners would try to flip things and misportray me as the litigous one when all I ever did, much to the apparent dismay of the anonymous posters, was hire competent legal counsel to successfully defend myself.

If any of Steve Hassan’s supporters are responsible for these postings (at this point I do not know if they are) it might be wise for Hassan to have a word with those he is close to about how having his name brought into this smear campaign makes him look.

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