Ep. 28 The Dark Side of Teen Behavioral Modification Programs with Sydney Montana


At 15 years old, Sydney was sent to a behavior modification program for troubled teens. This program was traumatizing, and caused her a great deal of pain.  Her and I discuss being an addict in rehab at 13, why she was sent to this program, and how she is doing today, 10 years later. Sydney’s growth and recovery is incredibly inspiring to me, and my heart hurts for all children that suffered these reform “school” experiences.  

Hopefully, with open dialogues like this, we can shed light on the truth about WWASP (World Wide Association of Speciality Programs).

Due to emotionally unavailable parents, Sydney developed unhealthy attachments and coping skills to deal with her emotions.  She’s been in rehab, a psych ward, and was expelled from school at 15, when her parents enrolled her in “boarding school”. This turned out to be Cross Creek, a behavior modification program for troubled teens. 

Needless to say, the brainwashing began. 

Cross Creek used shame and abuse to get children to comply.  The goal was to break down everything she’d ever known, until she complied as a means of survival.  She became a shell of a human. 

After 15 months, Sydney was released from Cross Creek, and found life outside challenging.  She completely lost her sense of self, and the trauma caused her to turn to drugs once again.  Thankfully, she’s been on the road to recovery for 10 years.  

What I admire most about Sydney is despite all this trauma and pain, she chose to recover.  She’s taken steps to improve, including therapy, moving away from her hometown, and building a support system of friends. And she’s learned to love life again.  

Sure, not everyday is great, but that’s how recovery is: full of ups and downs. There is no straight path.  But the journey is all worth it. 

Episode Highlights:   

  • Sydney’s life pre and post Cross Creek

  • Attachment styles and attachment disorders

  • “Hold Onto Your Kids” by Dr. Gabor Mate

  • WWASP (World Wide Association of Speciality Programs) 

  • ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families)

  • SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous)

  • Janet Lansbury and her teachings on parenting

Sydney is just now starting to process what’s happened over the last 10 years.  She is proud of how far she’s come, and I’m proud of her too! I’m so grateful she joined us, and was openly willing to share her story.  


If you or someone you love needs help, go to alorecovery.com

Where to find help and WWASP survivor testimonies: