Seek Safely

Seek Safely

The SEEK Safely podcast is the official voice of the nonprofit organization SEEK Safely Inc, which advocates for ethics and accountability in the self-help industry, and empowers seekers to have safe and effective self-improvement journeys. Jean Brown and Dr. Glenn Patrick Doyle peel back the layers of the largely unregulated, multi-billion dollar self-help industry, discussing the patterns of exploitation and deception that pervade the industry and allow self-help gurus to thrive at the expense of their customers and followers. Along the way we’ll have discussions with people who care as much as we do about the self-help industry being held accountable for the promises it makes–and we lay out our vision of a world in which seekers are respected and protected.

Episodes

May 13, 2024 46 mins

Here is Part 2 with Brit Barkholtz.
Brit Barkholtz is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in trauma and eating disorders, active in the Twitter therapist community as The Caffeinated Therapist. Brit shares her take on MLMs, self-help exploiting trauma, “culty” stuff, and Taylor Swift as a tool of trauma recovery.

This episode is Part 1 of 2.

To Read:
Brit’s thoughts on The Tortured Poet’s Department on ...

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Brit Barkholtz is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in trauma and eating disorders, active in the Twitter therapist community as The Caffeinated Therapist. Brit shares her take on MLMs, self-help exploiting trauma, “culty” stuff, and Taylor Swift as a tool of trauma recovery.

This episode is Part 1 of 2.

To Read:
Brit’s thoughts on The Tortured Poet’s Department on HuffPo
PESI

To Listen To:
SEEK Po...

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Bypassing is, essentially, avoidance. It's something we all do from time to time as a response to something unpleasant in our lives. But sometimes bypassing can cause us to go too far, putting off challenge for later that we'd be better off dealing with now. And sometimes in the self-help world, bypassing is either encouraged or deeply embedded in the thought system being pushed.

Dr. Glenn highlights how spiritual bypassin...

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Continuing our conversation with Anne Peterson, who has decades of involvement with Landmark, one of the original large-group awareness training (LGAT) companies, including experience producing a breakthrough leadership program developed for Landmark's founder, Werner Erhard. She tells her story in her memoir, “Is This A Cult: Confronting the Line Between Transformation and Exploitation.” This episode is Part 2 of 2. Listen to...

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Anne Peterson has decades of involvement with Landmark, one of the original large-group awareness training (LGAT) companies, including experience producing a breakthrough leadership program developed for Landmark's founder, Werner Erhard. Millions (3.5 million, according to Landmark's press packet) have passed through its trademark Landmark  Forum training, many of them having positive experiences. But after her many year...

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This episode is a throw-back to our annual fundraiser, Kirby Jam, in October 2023.  We had live-streamed on a different topic each night, and on this night, Monday, October 16th, we discussed our effort to pass self-help consumer protection legislation. Dr. Glenn, Jean, and SEEK Founder Ginny Brown talk about why we feel the legislation is necessary, what our effort has looked like, and the bill that we are hoping will make it to t...

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Our resident self-help geeks, Dr. Doyle and Dr. Christine Whelan, along with Jean, talk about self-help books that aren’t self-help books—that is, books that were not written to be self-help books but have been adopted into self-help culture, or society at large, as self-helpy how-to life manuals. Some are about other aspects of mental health and wellness, some are memoir or autobiography, some are straight-up fiction, but somehow ...

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Did you set a New Year’s resolution that is already floundering? Have you been inundated by self-help/wellness/woo-woo New Yearsy stuff, too? Or maybe peri-menopause supplements… The self-help industry loves a New Year’s resolution, so Jean and Glenn talk all about resolutions–their own takes and advice for resolutions, red flags to watch for in scammy self-help world, and some thoughts on how to approach this interesting, sometime...

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Glenn and Jean tackle the cosmic matchmaking self-help group/cult, Twin Flames Universe. Much has already been written and said about this fascinating/terrifying group. But on the SEEK Safely Podcast, the focus is on what this Twin Flames phenomenon says about self-help, and what it illuminates about why and how people get into self-help groups that turn out to be cults. 

Also Mentioned in this Episode: 

To Read:
Unlimited Power...

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This is the continuation of the first episode of the 3rd season! It picks up where the first episode left off, deep into Tony Robbins’ assent into self-help superstardom. Tony Robbins was Dr. Glenn’s first stop in the wide world of self-help, and in many ways, he is arguably one of the best known and most successful self-help personalities ever. He put the modern self-help industry on the trajectory of providing The Answer to Every...

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Jean and Glenn kick off the third season of the SEEK Safely Podcast, diving right in with a chat about Dr. Glenn’s favourite self-help author, Tony Robbins. Robbins has been one of the biggest names in self-help for decades. His success has inspired numerous other would-be gurus and has shifted the self-help industry in many ways. His career  tells a story about the evolution of self-help, from the tape-series model to stadium even...

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Before we take a quick podcast break, Glenn and Jean go back through the episodes from Season 2, reviewing some of the highlights and favorite moments. They also take a look at what theme emerged from this collection of discussions and interviews. 

We’d love to hear what your favorite moments from this season were! Let us know–send us a message or even leave a voicemail

We’ll be back with new episodes in October! Thanks for listeni...

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“Not unlike the tactics used by cults, who often exploit people who are seeking meaning, The Manosphere and the alt right provide meaning in the form of misogyny and white supremacy, creating an “affective fabric” that binds them together.”

Julia DeCook for boundary2.org, linked in notes


Jean and Dr. Glenn dive into the murky waters of the Manosphere, specifically where it overlaps with the self-help world, traditionally an indu...

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In 2016, CNN Films released a documentary entitled “Enlighten Us,” which followed James Ray’s attempted comeback after his short imprisonment for negligent homicide. That conviction was the result of the deaths of 3 people at Ray’s Spiritual Warrior personal development retreat in Sedona, Arizona, in 2009. The film features interviews with survivors as well as James Ray as he attempted to rebuild his personal development business. 

...

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Jean and Dr. Glenn speak with author Joelle Tamraz, whose gripping memoir details her time with a “yoga guru” who became her life and business partner. Through her compelling storytelling, it becomes clear that it was not weakness or desperation, but a heady mix of idealism, openness to possibility, and a desire for meaningful connection that put Joelle in the path of Arun, who promised to guide and love her, but instead exploited ...

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In this episode, Dr. Glenn takes us through the fascinating tale of Peter McWilliams who was both the author of the best-selling “Life 101” series and a victim in many ways of his guru/cult leader, John-Roger.

The story of Peter McWIlliams is sad and interesting; but importantly, it demonstrates so many of the recurring themes of how the self-help industry operates: 

  • Large Group Awareness Trainings (LGATs) as a gateway into more ...
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Given how much of a buzzword TRAUMA is in the self-help/wellness/self-improvement world and even more broadly in our culture, we’re lucky that Dr. Glenn happens to be a trauma specialist! 

A lot of gurus and New Age love-and-light types are talking about trauma these days. One in particular stands out. Although there has been a lot of coverage of Teal Swan, the SEEK Safely Podcast has not addressed this very popular online persona w...

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Conspiracy theories are on the rise in many areas of our society, and this holds true within the self-help industry, especially since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Jean and Glenn discuss this situation, shedding some light on why it is that conspiracies fit so easily into the realm of self-help–an industry that has often presented itself as an alternative to the mainstream.

But while the fringes have long been comfortable terr...

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In Part 1 of our interview with Dr. Christine Whalen, self-help researcher and SEEK Safely’s newest Board member, we discussed her background in researching self-help, how she got connected with SEEK Safely, and a bit about what she’s learned about how to be a best-selling self-help author. 

In Part 2, we really get into what’s going on with self-help today. This packed conversation covers:

  • the new social-media fuelled trajectory...
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Jean and Glenn welcome Dr. Christine Whelan, SEEK Safely’s newest Board member, to the SEEK Safely podcast in this first of two episodes. 

Dr. Christine is an author, professor and speaker, and one of the few researchers who has specifically looked into the self-help/advice industry. She is also perhaps the only person whose personal library of self-help books rivals that of Dr. Glenn! But more importantly, through her research Dr. ...

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