But unlike Sam, Wickstrom's revelations did not address sexual orientation. In a video posted on January 8, 2014 to Best Drug Rehabilitation's YouTube channel, Wickstrom finally "came out" as a Scientologist.
I know, you're about as surprised as your girl Miss Fortune was when she learned the truth about the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy!
Although the video mimics a news interview, it is actually a highly-produced, scripted "video news release" created by the Detroit office of Bader News Services. On its website, Bader describes itself as "a global industry leader in same-day broadcast news production, media placement, and publicity."
Bader explains that their "expert B-roll packages (i.e. supplemental television video), which include interview soundbites, are shot and edited to the specific expectations of television news bureaus around the world." The company also creates what it calls "video press kits" to assist TV journalists and producers in "reporting" your story with "informative and entertaining footage."
Wickstrom is interviewed by Ingrid Kelley, Senior Producer in Bader's Detroit Bureau, whose bio shows she spent time as a writer with the Fox News Channel, appeared as on-air talent for several national cable news outlets, and was a freelance producer-writer for the Black Enterprise Business Report.
From Fox News to Faux News...is this a great country or what!
The video gets started on what 'Soul Brother Number One' James Brown would have called "the good foot" when Kelley mispronounces Wickstrom's first name, referring to him as "purr" instead of "pear".
(I guess there wasn't enough money in the budget for a retake!)
But let's start at the beginning, when Kelley asks Wickstrom about his tenure in "the business of helping people overcome substance abuse."
Wickstrom answers that he bought his first center in 2002, and his first client came through the doors on February 2, 2003.
Hmmm? And what was the name of that center?
Kelley didn't ask that question, but Miss Fortune provides the missing background for Wickstrom's first venture in "the business of helping people".
IN THE BEGINNING, THERE WAS NARCONON STONE HAWK
Narconon Stone Hawk Rehabilitation, Inc. was the non-profit domestic corporation Wickstrom and his former wife, Kate, formed on March 11, 2002 here in Michigan. In its initial filing, the corporation described its purpose was "to operate exclusively for charitable purposes by providing drug rehabilitation and educational services through the use of technology researched and developed by L. Ron Hubbard."
Hubbard, shown in an undated photo above, was a science fiction writer who founded the Church of Scientology in 1952.
Could this "coming out" video really be Wickstrom's "coming clean" video?
Not for the people of Battle Creek, Michigan, who remember that in the months prior to Stone Hawk's opening, Wickstrom publicly credited Narconon with helping him overcome his addiction to alcohol.
In a July 19, 2002 Battle Creek Enquirer article, Wickstrom said he and former wife decided to open the facility because of the impact the program had on his life.
"I overcame my problem with this program," said Wickstrom in the article. "I had been through four different programs that didn't work ... and then I tried Narconon."
|Inmate Benitez, Narconon founder|
Narconon Stone Hawk, located in Battle Creek at 216 St. Mary's Lake Road, closed in 2008. A Forever Recovery, another Wickstrom-related facility, began accepting patients at the St. Mary's Lake location on August 15, 2008.
But Wickstrom's public support of Narconon and its role in his own continued, most famously in a November 15, 2012 Huffington Post story, "From Addict to Entrepreneur: How I Overcame My Greatest Obstacle".
In that post, Wickstrom credited Narconon with helping him overcome his battle with addiction:
"Narconon saved my life. After graduation, I had to make a choice about what I wanted to do with my career: I could either go back to selling things (I was a terrific salesperson for GM), or I could dedicate my life to helping people. I realized that I was given a second chance at life and thus, found my higher calling: a dedication to helping people beat their addiction, just like I did.
I opened up my own Narconon center and saved more than 6,000 people throughout the course of several years. It felt great to help people and make a true difference in this world."
JUST A BUNCH OF US "THERAPISTS" SITTING AROUND TALKING: HOW DID YOU GET SOBER? (DID I HEAR "NARCONON"?)
Sounding like a stupid man's idea of what a thoughtful person sounds like, Wickstrom explains how he developed the treatment programs for his Manistee, MI-based facility, Best Drug Rehabilitation.
Wickstrom states that "Best Drug Rehabilitation offers a myriad of programs. What we did is, we sat down—a bunch of us therapists—and we decided to look at what works and we all raised our hand: how did you get sober?"
Oh, no, he didn't!
If this story had a soundtrack, you'd be hearing a big, fat audio car crash right now.
So the self-described former auto finance manager considers himself a "therapist"?
I don't remember much "tell me how that makes you feel" hand-holding when I bought my last car!
This misleading reference by Wickstrom implying that he's a "therapist" is wrong on many levels.
According to the State of Michigan's certification/licensing laws, "therapist" and "counselor" are considered protected titles of therapeutic intervention. Here in Michigan, as in most of the 50 states, there are three licensed groups of individuals—social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists.
Social workers are mental health professionals who can have differing credentials and responsibilities depending on the type of social work they choose to do. Social workers have a masters degree in social work or a related field, and serve in many communities as the first line of mental health support where psychologists or counselors are hard to come by. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or Licensed Social Worker (LSW) often works to support families hurt by domestic abuse, sexual abuse, substance abuse, and other issues.
Psychologists are people who have a doctorate, are licensed and certified in the jurisdiction they choose to operate in, and you may see them with the acronym LCP (Licensed Clinical Psychologist) after their name in addition to a PhD or a PsyD. Psychologists are trained to work in clinical, research, and medical environments as well as with patients who need therapy.
It's important to note that psychologists are the mental health personnel that are trained to test for and officially diagnose mental illnesses, whereas counselors and social workers can only suggest those conditions exist, and refer you to a psychologist for additional testing.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who also have doctorates, but differentiate themselves from psychologists because they are M.D.s and the ability to prescribe medication. Unlike psychologists, they may or may not be trained to provide therapy or to interact directly with patients.
In addition to licensed professionals, there are "credentialed professionals" who also assess and treat addiction.
Two of the most common credentials offered by the Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals (MCBAP) are CAADC (Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor) and CADC (Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor).
It appears to Miss Fortune that Wickstrom has none of the requirements—a college degree, a professional license or accreditation—necessary to properly refer to himself as a "therapist".
A slip of the tongue...in a scripted video?
Maybe, but your girl Miss Fortune is not buying it.
So, how did Wickstrom get sober? In the past, he's publicly credited Narconon...just not in this video.
In his interview with Kelley, Wickstrom rattles off the "five different programs" that Best Drug Rehabilitation has under one roof (including Native American, Buddhism and something he calls "cognitive behavior therapy"), and again neglects to mention Narconon.
Although Wickstrom's official license agreement with Narconon International, issued on October 10, 2001, was terminated on June 6, 2008 for unpaid fees and alleged "self-dealing", it appears likely that Wickstrom may currently have an agreement to use the Narconon program at Best Drug Rehabilitation and A Forever Recovery.
|Do fish swim?|
|January 18, 2013 screen capture|
In the January 18, 2013 screen capture (shown above) from Best Drug Rehabilitation's website, the Narconon logo prominently appears.
In addition to Narconon, ABLE acts as an umbrella organization for these three entities: Applied Scholastics (an educational program based on Scientology study technology), Criminon (a rehabilitation program for prisoners) and The Way to Happiness Foundation, dedicated to disseminating L. Ron Hubbard's "non-religious moral code".
While Wickstrom does not directly acknowledge Narconon in this video, its aromatic fumes cling to him like sulfur to the Devil.
"I'M A SCIENTOLOGIST. WHAT RELIGION ARE YOU?"
And now we get to the video's "money shot"—Wickstrom's admission that he's indeed a Scientologist.
Kelley sets it up, asking him that there are "some reports about you being a Scientologist, and actually using your centers as recruitment tools. Would you like to respond to those allegations?"
Wickstrom, demonstrating a singular mix of petulance and defiance that hasn't been seen on screen since Pee-Wee Herman (before the weight gain), claims that his "personal beliefs have nothing to do with the beliefs that I teach at my rehabilitation centers." He pauses and continues: "I am a Scientologist. What religion are you?"
Here's where Miss Fortune has to pause the video.
For those readers unfamiliar with Scientology's scientific origins, here's the story in condensed form:
According to L. Ron Hubbard, the creator of Scientology, Xenu was the dictator of the "Galactic Confederacy" some 75 million years ago. Xenu brought billions of his people to Earth in a spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes, and dropped hydrogen bombs on them. The essences of the annihilated stuck around, however, and harass us today.
The story gets better, but there is little point in repeating it since it's a secret...and Scientologists deny it.
Near the end of the video, Kelley asks Wickstrom if he forces "patients or employees to become Scientologists."
Wickstrom maintains he does not, saying "Never, ever would I do that...100 percent."
A commenter on Reaching for the Tipping Point who uses the name "Source", addresses Wickstrom's claim, breaking it down and parsing his words:
Now, how can the answer to this question be "never" when report after report keep coming out where clients report of being made to practice Scientology over and over as a part of their program?
Well, there is a difference between "forcing someone to practice Scientology" vs. "forcing someone to become a Scientologist".
For those who don't know Scientology, the wording of this question is purposeful. It is impossible to "force" anyone to become a Scientologist. You can join Narconon, take auditing, and even join the SeaOrg without "becoming a Scientologist".
According to Scientology, being a Scientologist doesn't occur when you take a certain course, auditing, or training. It ONLY occurs when you DECIDE to become a Scientologist.
"Source" continues, stating that while Wickstrom is "technically correct", he was not asked whether he "ever forced staff or clients to take Scientology courses, classes or training."
Somewhere in a course room in Battle Creek, there may be a group of people who say "yes".
COMPLETE VIDEO TRANSCRIPT
Note: Video as reviewed uploaded to YouTube January 8, 2014
Per Wickstrom Ingrid Kelley video transcript: as of February 16, 2014 5:30 PM
Ingrid Kelley (IK):
Hello, everyone. I’m Ingrid Kelley and thank you for joining us. Today, we are exploring the issue of substance abuse and the steps one can take to overcome this illness.
Joining me now with much more is Per Wickstrom. He is the founder of Best Drug Rehabilitation. Thank you so much for being here.
Per Wickstrom (PW):
Thank you for having me, Ingrid. It’s a pleasure, as always, to come and educate people on substance abuse.
OK. How long have you been in the business of helping people overcome substance abuse?
In 2002, I bought my first center. So actually you can (unintelligible) say when did I really get in the substance abuse busines? I started the company February 2nd of 2003; we actually had our first client come through the doors.
So what motivated you to actually own and operate your own business?
You know, that’s a real tough question because motivation comes from many different aspects in life. And I would say that when I went back into the car/automobile business, it wasn’t satisfying. We had the same things that we have and it changed because I had changed going through rehabilitation.
And why are you succeeding in an industry where most people are actually failing?
That’s a great question. What I view is if you keep help, you know, we, we try to help people in this world today as much as possible. And if you keep help number one, above any other award, and help is your main focus, you’re gonna succeed.
What’s the biggest challenge that one faces when trying to get someone actually into rehab? What would you say?
The biggest challenge in getting anybody to rehabilitation is to get them to view their life. Because if you’re failing, you’re not succeeding, you’re not gonna want to admit it to your peers, or your parents, or your wife or husband.
What are some of your biggest concerns regarding drug abuse?
That people are uninformed. People don’t know. We far too often observe and we put our blinders on and we don’t put the hammer down.
What type of programs are actually offered at Best Drug Rehabilitation?
Well, you know, Best Drug Rehabilitation offers a myriad of programs. What we did is, we sat down—a bunch of us therapists—and we decided to look at what works and we all raised our hand: how did you get sober? And I had counselors that were Native Americans, counselors that were Buddhists, I had counselors that were from Celebrate Recovery, which is Christian. And they all had a little bit of different of a story.
So instead of just saying this is the straight line you have to roll, we incorporated five different programs under one roof with five different trained counselors from five modalities.
So, not only do we have Celebrate Recovery, we have SMART Recovery.
Not only do we have cognitive behavior therapy, but we have Buddhism…if you want to take it.
It’s all an elective, and it seemed to me when I went to rehab that nobody would give me a choice. It was their way or the highway, and that didn’t work for me.
I had to formulate something that was a workable solution and incorporate some kind of a belief system that I could believe in.
There are some reports about you being a Scientologist, and actually using your centers as recruitment tools. Would you like to respond to those allegations?
Well, my personal beliefs have nothing to do with the beliefs that I teach at my rehabilitation centers.
I am a Scientologist. What religion are you?
Right. So we all have our basic belief system, and I believe that in rehabilitation spirituality is very important. But I don’t believe that you have to classify Scientology or Christianity or Buddhism—any of those—as a philosophy that somebody has to change to.
I believe you should pick tools up from every available aspect to kick what we call addiction’s behind.
Do you force patients or employees to become Scientologists?
Never, ever would I do that...100 percent.
For people who are watching this, is there a website for them to go to so they can actually learn more about your centers?
Well you can Google my center, you know, best, www dot BestDrug Rehabilitation dot com. You can Google www dot stopaddiction dot com.
As far as drug addiction, the best way to learn about drug addiction is to get on the phone and to call us or to call a counselor.
You’re going to get better information because you’re going to talk to somebody like we’re talking, where you can learn the truth!
Thank you so much for joining us, and for sharing all this information regarding your centers.
And thank you so much for watching. Have a great day.