Psychology of Vision

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Chuck Spezzano, full name: Charles Lee Spezzano, is an author of about 40 books in the genre of advice literature, some of which have seen translations to other languages. He is also the inventor of a so-called Psychology of Vision which he sells on the esoteric market with his wife Lency Spezzano, full name: Lenora Kay Spezzano.

Biographical Information[edit]

There is only little biographical data obtainable on the Spezzanos, and the biographical information spread by the Spezzanos themselves on various websites, by their publishers, and by students and propagators often varies considerably regarding important details.

Chuck Spezzano[edit]

According to his website, Spezzano was born in upstate New York and grew up in Pennsylvania.[1] However, he does not give any further details as to a date of birth or as much as the year he was born. According to information found at the site of pipl.com, he is 65 years of age, so he must have been born in 1948 or 1947.[2]

Spezzano claims to have studied to become a priest, to have joined a seminary and taken temporary vows, after which he joined Bethel Park Collegiate seminary and attended Duquesne University, where he claims to have studied Philosophy and Psychology, with a B.A. obtained from this university. He then allegedly gave up his career as a priest, and obtained an M.A. in sociology at Duquesne U., followed by a Ph.D. in Counselling Psychology from United States International University, San Diego (today: Alliant University) in 1977.[1]

In another paragraph in the same biography, Spezzano claims to have done both the M.A. and the Ph.D. at USIU. Several websites mention Spezzano having worked at the Naval Drug Rehabilitation Center as a psychologist between 1973 and 1979[3][4], while Spezzano's own website does not mention any dates of this employment apart from having left this job in the autumn of 1979 to practice privately as a Marriage, Family and Child Counselor.[1]

Some time after 1983, the Spezzanos moved to Hawaii where they still reside today.[1]

Lency Spezzano[edit]

Biographical data for Lency Spezzano are likewise scarce. On their own website, she claims to have received both a BSc and an MSc degree in Rehabilitation Counselling in 1975 and 1976 from the University of Arizona. This points to a date of birth about 1954. Previous employment is restricted to the information of her having „designed and administered numerous rehabilitation agencies, training programs and treatment facilities“, but her main so-called professional experience seems to be Psychology of Vision from 1984 until today.[5] Other internet sources describe her as a „relationship therapist and author“.[6] Ms Spezzano has furthermore developed "Joining" which sometimes is described as "PoV's mystical path".[7]

Grades and Licences[edit]

As was pointed out above, there are differing versions regarding Spezzano's courses of study.

Spezzano did in fact earn a Ph.D., for a dissertation titled: „The words that love made--a poetic phenomenology of the poet's experience of being a poet“, published in 1977.[8] Such a thesis cannot have been written in Psychology, but rather in Philosophy in which Spezzano only claims a B.A; and the grade obtained in Psychology also seems to have been a B.A. His Master's degree was obtained in Sociology, but the actual dissertation seems inappropriate to earn a Ph.D. in this field.

Similarly varying information is displayed regarding Spezzano's actual degree in Psychology: While Spezzano's websites mention him having worked as a counsellor, other websites claim he earned a doctorate in Clinical Psychology[3][4], including his German publishers[9]; the same information, however, is also provided in the book of a British author[10]

While claiming to have had a private practice as a psychologist in Californa between 1979 and 1983, information obtainable points to a licence as a „marriage and family therapist“ obtained in the state of California in 1980, quite in congruence with having given up employment at the Naval Rehab Center in 1979. However, this licence expired May 31, 1990 without any renewal.[11] The present licence held for the Spezzano enterprise is for a „Spezzano and Associates, Limited“, issued November 15, 1990 in Hawaii.[12] A licence as a psychologist of whatever specialisation cannot be verified for the state of Hawaii.

An investigative documentary broadcast by Canadian TV station APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) aired on November 9, 2013[13] revealed that neither Chuck nor Lency Spezzano were in a position to call themselves "psychologist"; in fact, in a telecon prior to November 9, Spezzano told the TV station he did not claim the title of a psychologist and went by the lable of "coach". The TV station also informed the audience that both Chuck and Lency Spezzano were fined by Hawaiian authorities for posing as psychologists in documents used in a custody case, claiming they were licenced Family and Marriage Therapists.[14] [15]

Esoteric Influences[edit]

In his biography, Spezzano repeatedly mentions to have come into contact with various methods and techniques promoted on the Newage markets, in particular in the fields of commercial life-counseling and self-optimising, and integrated methods and concepts encountered there into his own concept.

According to his own account, he took „his first program seminar call [sic] Lifespring“ when employed at the Naval Drug Rehab Center, i.e. between 1973 and 1977.[1] During the same period, he also became involved with „A Course in Miracles“ allegedly pointed out to him by a colleague.[1] After 1979, when working as a private practitioner, Spezzano says he volunteered „as a trainer with ARAS, a workshop company with spiritual dimensions“.[1] A further step is mentioned with: „In 1982 and 1983 he also taught at the Tubb Wholestic [sic] Health Institute in Southern California...“.[1] More recently, Spezzano integrated some ideas and practices from the so-called Oneness Movement into the framework of Psychology of Vision.

It must be pointed out that both Lifespring's (now presumably defunct) and A Course in Miracles' activities took place in the field of commerical life counselling, selling courses for personal development and advancement and urging participants to recruit further customers, including targeting their social environment. The Oneness Movement, on the other hand, is selling courses teaching a spirituality based on Eastern thought. Their goal is advancement and enlightenment on a personal level as well as creating a class of individuals privileged by enlightenment, thus indicating a probable totalitarian development and its embracement of the approach of creating super-humans.

Lifespring[edit]

Lifespring was founded in 1974 by John Hanley as a for-profit New Age resp. Human Potential company selling respective courses; it claims more than 400,000 persons participated in their trainings in the USA. Courses were organised in the three-level program with a "Basic" training, an "Advanced" course, and a three-months "Leadership Program".[16]

There were at least 30 lawsuits against Lifespring, most of which seem to have been settled out of court. However, a 1984 lawsuit awarded $ 800,000 to a person who was hospitalised with mental problems following a Lifespring training. Both a 1992 and a 1993 lawsuit due to mental problems arising in the aftermath of Lifespring trainings were successful, too. At least one lawsuit in 1982 was led over the suicide of a course participant and settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.[17]

The majority of Lifespring students are said to have had a very good education and belonged to the class of so-called Yuppies whom Lifespring promised more success and more happiness. At the same time, Lifespring attempted to convince large companies to have their employees trained by them to have their productivity and ethics increased. An independent study of Lifespring courses in 1981 said that the training systematically undermined the functioning of the ego, reduced the ability of critical thinking in participants, and caused an increasing dependency of participants from the views of their trainer.[18]

A Course in Miracles[edit]

"A Course In Miracles" is the title of a book "scribed" by research psychologist Helen Schucman who claimed the book was channeled to her by Jesus. In her book, Schucman thus presents a re-interpretation of Christian religion, claiming Jesus wanted less suffering, less sacrifice, less separation, and less sacrament, but more love and forgiveness.[19] ACIM is promoted by two organisations, the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) and the Foundation for a Course in Miracles (FACIM), both selling books, seminars, audio- and videotapes, workshops, and seminars.[19]

Christian criticism of ACIM points to the fact that it contradicts basic tenets of Christian faith, employs Christian terminology to redefine it with Newage teachings, and supports Newage and occult ideas.[20]

Oneness[edit]

This is a movement founded by Vijay Kumar, and Indian citizen, who goes by the title of "Kalki Bhagavan". The movement is led by Kumar and his wife, who are addressed as "Sri Amma Bhagavan" by students and followers.[21] The movement has spread to Europe and the USA from an initial Ashram in India. Meanwhile, a temple has been built for an alleged amount of $75 million, and Kumar also operates a "Oneness University" in India, selling advanced courses and trainings.[21] Basic courses, like e.g. a training as a so-called Deeksha [blessing] giver, are also done in the USA and European countries.[22][23]

According to a website promoting the movement, both Kumar and his wife did not need a process of spiritual maturing, but were born in a state of oneness with all life and with the obligation to lead humankind to its awakening. Therefore, Kumar and his wife were the male and female aspect of an avatarian consciousness to aid the awakening of humankind.[24]

Author and Lecturer[edit]

Spezzano has written some 40 books of advice literature, many of which have seen translations into other languages. So e.g. there are about 30 of his books presently available in German language. A large part of these were written on partnership problems, presenting advice how to realise and maintain happy relationships or to cope with failed relationships, how to build up durable partnerships etc.

These books are being promoted by Spezzano giving lectures e.g. at Newage congresses in Europe. In February 2013, he did a seminar during the Basel Psi Days in Switzerland, an established annual congress which is being organised by Basel Psi Association since years. The title of this seminar was „What do happy people do differently“, with a fee of CHF 600 being charged from participants, its contents were announced as:
How to heal problems with the power of love, how to dissolve mechanisms of defence. This requires us to accept and love ourselves in the first place. We can heal disease, mental and psychological problems once we recognise our subconscious patterns. With both group and individual processes, Chuck Spezzano supports us in detectng and dissolving these limiting patterns, in healing chronic problems, and to introduce joy and happiness back into our lives.[25]

From September 26-29, 2013, Spezzano will be giving a seminar in Zurich, Switzerland titled „Healing begins in the Heart“, at a fee of CHF 570.[26]

On October 28, 2013, Spezzano will make an appearance at the annual Bleep Congress in Germany, this year organised in the town of Leverkusen, and do a one-day workshop „How to create a Happy Relationship“ at € 120.[27] This congress was spurred by the film „What the Bleep do we know“[28], written and produced by several persons from „Ramtha's School of Enlightenment“[29], which has been described as cult-like. Although most of the lecturers invited to these congresses come from German-speaking countries, they also had international guests like William Arntz, the producer of the film and student of Ramtha's School, and Masaru Emoto in 2008, and plastic shaman J. Reuben Silverbird in 2011.[30]

Further seminars in Europe will take place in Frankfurt and Hamburg, with more seminars and trainings being announced for Hawaii and Canada.[31]

Healing Keys[edit]

Although most of Spezzano's books deal with partnership and partnership problems, he also co-authored a book with Janie Ticehurst (or Janie E. Patrick) titled "Healing the Body Through Mind and Metaphor". The book is still available from Spezzano's website, while Ticehurst is selling the e-book version through her site.[32] While the co-author's name is "Ticehurst" for the e-book, the original paper version seems to have been written at a point in time prior to Ticehurst's marriage under her maiden name of Janie E. Patrick.

The authors claim that a multitude of diseases can be healed with a combination of Keys which they also list:

Bonding, Choice, Family Role, Forgiveness, Gifts, Grace, Integration, Letting Go, Love and Bonding Exercise, Purpose, Trust, Truth, Understanding, Willingness.[33] [34]

However, some of the diseases the authors recommend to be treated with their set of keys are severe and patients suffering from such diseases should rather go to see an MD: e.g. ALS, AIDS, Appendicitis, Asthma, Cancer, Diabetes Mellitus, Epilepsy, Heart Attack, Hepatitis, Jaundice, Leukemia, Lymphoma Hodgkin's Disease, Meningitis.[35] [36]

The authors claim:

Cancer involves the transformation of healthy functioning cells into malignant, or harmful, cells. The altered cells transfer faulty information to their offspring, and the cancerous cells grow in an abnormal and destructive way.
Cancer is the embodiment of self-directed anger. It reflects a place of guilt and self-attack.
A traumatic situation with a significant other will have taken place between six and eighteen months before the onset of the cancer.
At some level, it is an attack on another through self-harm. It highlights that we have a need to give that has gone wild, or is completely misplaced, in addition to a fear of our purpose.[...]
Tumors encapsulate our repressed anger, malice and conflicting, hidden belief systems.
We are trying to shelter our pain or disappointment and are attempting to hold back negative self-beliefs and evil self-concepts. These mistaken beliefs and self-concepts stem from unresolved emotional fractures and broken hearts.[35]

This approach clearly lays the blame for a disease on the diseased who is responsible for it. The same is true for handicaps, of which the authors e.g. list Birth Defects, Deafness, or Down's Syndrome. Birth defects are said to represent unfinished business from ancestral patterns and/or a past life metaphor. We are being called to heal this soul level issue.[35]

Their approach to deafness is:

It signifies that there is something that we don’t want to hear either about relationship (left ear), or career (right ear).
We have a fear of our purpose, and there is something that we are refusing to learn. There is an area where we have cut ourselves off, which is holding us back from joining the dance of life.
Because we want to do things our way, there is something we don’t want to hear from others or from within. Deafness means we have some stubbornness and unwillingness to listen and communicate.[35]

The explanation for Down's Syndrome is:

If we have Down’s syndrome, it means that we have come to learn some lessons at a soul level. We are here to seek soul fulfillment and the completion of a cycle, yet we are stuck in the transition between the old level and the new.
The two main soul lessons of Down’s syndrome are correcting over-willfulness and giving up the ego’s plan in exchange for heaven’s plan.[35]

The authors constantly lay the blame for disease and handicap onto the individual who is held responsible, and promise healing to be possible with their "healing keys". Although the authors do not advise diseased persons to abstain from seeing a doctor, they also do not recommend seeking medical advise or help.

However, as of January 2014, Ticehurst has effected changes to the website promoting the book 'Healing Keys'. Links from diseases, as perceived by the authors, to recommended healing keys formerly freely available have been taken down and readers are informed they need to be approved by the site owner prior to having access to the so-called healing metaphors. Ticehurst also deleted all information pointing to her co-author Spezzano from the visible parts of her site. With the changes effected, an advice was added that seeing a doctor was recommended.

Psychology of Vision[edit]

According to information given at their website, Psychology of Vision was invented by Chuck and Lency Spezzano during the 1980ies. Psychology of Vision, however, is no scientifically recognised method or therapy, and the Spezzano's never submitted this method to scientific journals to obtain peer reviews. Furthermore, with the exception of the above mentioned thesis, there are no scientific publications by either Chuck or Lency Spezzano traceable. Unlike recognised, and many unrecognised, reputable therapies, Spezzano registered „Psychology of Vision“ as a trademark.

Recent Esoteric and other Influences on Psychology of Vision[edit]

While valid psychological approaches and methods on which PoV may be based do not get specified, there are two esoteric schools which do get mentioned as having influenced respectively still influencing PoV today. These are "A Course in Miracles" and "Oneness" (cf. above).

Another source Spezzano draws from is Tarot readings. His website offers a so-called "three-card reading" for visitors, and he has also published his own decks of cards and interpretations. While there are three different decks available in English language[37] and one in French[37], as many as six different decks of cards have been published in German language, five of them in 2008.[38]

Spezzano also took up influences from several religions, like the Jewish Kabbalah, Sufism, and also Hinduism.[39]

Method[edit]

Since Psychology of Vision has never received any peer review and scientific recognition, the efficacy or, for that matter, the ethical standards of the method(s) employed have also never been established and are not controlled.

Various websites claim Psychology of vision was „both a healing model and a global community of people teaching and practicing that model. Psychology of Vision is a path of the heart that has helped tens of thousands of people around the world through seminars, one-to-one coaching and its many products and publications. It has helped people improve their lives, their relationships and their health by giving them an understanding of themselves and others, and giving them insights into the events in their lives. It is a model that teaches emotional intelligence through a remembering of Self.“[40]

Combining an alleged healing model with a global community does not quite reflect a scientific approach or method, but reminds of a cult. The claim of tens of thousands having already been „helped“ (not healed, apparently) remains unsubstantiated and must be viewed as a mere sales pitch. This is supported by the information this help was effected „through seminars, one-to-one coaching and its many products and publications“.[40] This diction, employing commercial vocabulary instead of scientific terms, clearly points out PoV is a commercial enterprise, not a therapy.

In fact identical descriptions as the above quoted are given on PoV-sites worldwide. Sometimes, the adjective „groundbreaking“ is added to describe the „healing model“[41][25][42], and claims contend Psychology of Vision combined „modern psychological know-how with spiritual principles“.[42] Another variant claims, somewhat contradictory, that Psychology of Vision represented a „combination of classic psychology with spiritual principles“.[3]

On the other hand, Spezzano himself seems quite prepared to depreciate psychology, e.g. in an undated interview apparently done prior to the year 2000:
„Question: You said yesterday that psychology was a hoax and that psychology was the fastest of slow methods. What did you mean by this? CS: Psychology is mainly concerned with the past. But the past has passed! Psychology has lost its way. There are still many individual therapists who know the way. Psychology means the science of the psyche, the soul, but psychology today studies rats and worms. They try to reduce human structure to behavioural patterns and symptoms. It makes everything inhumane. It is a model of science from the last century. Every other science developed further, except for psychology.“[43]

System of Seminars[edit]

Psychology of Vision consists of several series of seminars. The first goal participants are expected to realise is the so-called "100-Day-Program", followed by a "Mastery Program" and a "Trainers' Program". Another set of seminars is offered in the so-called "Steps-to-Leadership-Program", while the "VisionWorks"-Program is targeting students and teachers.

The different workshops offered within the framework of these programmes sometimes provide information regarding how many days participation in the respective courses count, with a range of zero to ten days. Seminars counting zero days do not contribute to the participants' achievement e.g. in their 100-Day-Program. The system is explained on the British websiteCite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag and the German website[44], although both versions do vary[45]

All workshops and seminars offered, however, are subject to a fee. Even so-called "info evenings" for the acquisition of more customers and providing an introduction to PoV, as are organised in the German-language areas, require the purchase of an entrance ticket at € 30,[46], as do so-called study groups titled "Friends helpings Friends" organised every three weeks.[47] While part of these may be taken locally, 10-day seminars done with the Spezzanos, at least one of these in Hawaii, are compulsory. Seminar fees also do not include costs for travel, accomodation and food which come on top of these expenditures.

The system of seminars creates a pyramid in which participants may advance to a higher status within the system which will eventually allow them to direct seminars and generate some income. Prior to this stage, participants will have paid substantial amounts on seminars and courses, as well as on books, DVDs and other material, additional seminars and last not least travel expense.

While many advertisements avoid mentioning seminar fees, there is some information available. In Great Britain, a three-day seminar with one or both of the Spezzanos costs GBP 1,100 (USD 1,763), for another one, the regular price is GBP 800 (USD 1,282). With e.g. an audience of 50 participants, this adds to a receipts of USD 88,150 resp. USD 64,100. Spezzano is further available for private coaching at GBP 1,000 (USD 1,603) per hourly session.[48]

In comparison, seminars in Germany and Switzerland are not as pricey: a three-day seminar in Switzerland in February 2013 cost CHF 600 (USD 658) per participant.[25] During their September 2013 stay in Europe, Spezzano will e.g. do a seminar in Stuttgart at a members' fee of € 365 (USD 493). Another seminar in Hamburg costs € 420 per person (USD 567).

Apprenticeship programmes are priced at $ 3,000 resp. $ 1,550 for 100-Day graduates. As it is limited to 50 participants, receipts for an apprenticeship thus amount to between $ 77,500 and $ 150,000. The Mastery Programme is available for $ 4,000 for 100-Day graduates. The German Steps-to-Leadership programme is sold at € 1,600 (USD 2,162) for the module part only, the three accompanying 3-day seminars have to be paid on top of this sum.

Since some of the compulsory seminars have to be done in Hawaii, and with some taking place with an international audience in India or Thailand, it is obvious that susbstantial amounts of travel expense and accomodation must be added to seminar fees. Further expenses may occur e.g. by participants being asked to intensify Joining lessons before being accepted to a particular programme. Participation in PoV therefore will be quite expensive for the individual, and may result in persons running into debt. Especially when non-affluent persons are being targeted, as is the case in Canada, this may have detrimental effects not only on families but entire communities.

The 100-Day-Program[edit]

The UK-site claims there are 100-Day graduates "all around the world from Japan to Vancouver, London to Taipei and Geneva to Zambia".[49] The German section explains the goals of the programme in more detail:

"The Psychology of Vision 100-Day-Program provides a profound process of change, during which Chuck and Lency Spezzano or other PoV Seminar Leaders personally engage in the development of every participant. During the entire training, personal growth is given priority. Self-awareness and process-oriented work bring about profound change and basic insights into the dynamics of human consciousness.
Another goal of the PoV 100-Day-Program is the teaching of professional tools which enable participants to include the PoV principles into their professional life. Teaching basic methods and concepts of psychology make the focus here.
A third goal is to enable 100-Day-Program participants to organise their own seminars. It does not only qualify to perform Psychology of Vision seminars. An important, integral part of the training is the consolidation between individual phases: e.g. attending a study group or participance in a Steps-to-Leadership course."[44]

The 100-Day-Programme has to be completed within five years and courses are to be chosen according to the formula:

"15 days of Steps to Leadership + 30 days Apprenticeship + 55 regular PoV days = 100 days within 5 years."[44]

While the German website first explains it was one goal of the programme to enable participants to organise their own workshops, the ability apparently does not entitle them to sell their own seminars:

"Having completed a 100-Day Program is a prerequisite for an eventual entry into the PoV Trainers' programme. It does, however, not entitle to organise and realise Psychology of Vision® seminars. Only Psychology of Vision® trainers are permitted to use the Psychology of Vision® logo and make use of the title of a Psychology of Vision® Trainer.
100-Day Graduates will be prefered for assistance (Staff) of Psychology of Vision seminars."[44]

It is quite noteworthy that technical details regarding entitlements and seminar credits are explained in more depths than information on contents and methods.

Mastery Programme[edit]

The British site explains:"The Mastery Programme is Lency’s dream made manifest."[50] While the British site says, this programme was "for graduates of the 100-Day Programme who want to continue to work at a high level, but who do not feel called to be a Trainer and work in the more structured environment offered in the Trainers Training Programme"[50], the German website offers differing advice: "On the other hand, participance in the Mastery Programme is one prerequisite for the application to join the PoV Team of Trainers."[51]

This programme is said to centre around a 10-day Graduate Mastery Seminar, with the entire programme taking one year. Further assets are monthly teleseminars with Chuck or Lency Spezzano and a free subscription to three e-courses. The British site mentions the 2007 Mastery Programme started with a seminar on Big Island, Hawaii, while the 2008 programme began with a seminar in India; the cost for the year was figured with US$ 3,500; however, further down at the same site, this amount is then said to refer to the initial 10-day seminar from Jan 19-28, 2012.[50] The 2014 10-day Mastery seminar will again take place in Hawaii, with 100-Day graduates facing a fee of US$ 4,000.[52]

With initial 10-day seminars being organised in Hawaii and India, it is quite apparent that the actual expenditure for participants will be substantially higher, in particular since the entire programme takes one year to finish. Neither the British nor the German site offer more information regarding further courses within this programme, with the exception of the advice that "[i]t may be possible that participants of the Mastery Programme will be asked to improve their Joining abilities before they can begin the year's programme".[51]

Steps-to-Leadership Programme[edit]

Jeff Allen, the UK/Ireland stewart of Psychology of Vision, takes credit for the creation of this course allegedly "designed specifically to provide a structured and accessible explanation of the basic principles of the transformative Psychology of Vision model".[53]

According to the further description provided, the STL Programme seems to be the 100-Day version condensed: "Steps to Leadership covers many of the teachings of Psychology of Vision (PoV) and presents them in 3-hour modules. The principles, lessons, and tools of PoV are synthesised, organised, each building on the previous one. Together they offer a way of engaging with the teachings in a practical and incremental way. When you graduate from the programme, you take with you a firm understanding of the workings of the mind, the blocks that are keeping you stuck, and techniques to overcome them."[53]
The description also employs the Newage concept of "blocks" needing to be overcome.

The course is offered in two versions, online and physical. The Physical Group course consists of 27 modules of three hours each plus three workshops. The Online Group again consists of three levels made up of 10 modules each:

Level I (Modules 1 to 10 – The Conscious Mind)
Level II (Modules 11 – 20 The Subconscious Mind) and
Level III (Modules 21 – 30 The Unconscious Mind)
Level I consists of 10 three-hour modules. Each module is divided into a pre-learning and live online section. Level II is 9 three-hour modules and a 2-day workshop. Level III is 9 three-hour modules and a 3-day workshop.[53]

Fees for these 27 modules as mentioned on German-language websites are € 1,875, minus a rebate for early bookers € 1,665 and another price for repeaters and couples at € 1,560 per person,[54], or with another trainer at € 1,690, a reduced price of € 1,521 per person for couples, and a special discount of 10% for persons introducing a new participant.[55]

Regarding the benefits of this course for the students, the British site claims students will discover

Comprehensive information on the conscious, sub-conscious and unconscious aspects of our minds
Full details on the Triangle, Iceberg and other models of the Psychology of Vision
Clear explanations, exercises, discussion points, goal-setting, guided visualisations, and videos.
Understand the patterns and blocks in your life and learn tools and techniques to overcome them
Examine the dynamics of your life in a safe and supportive environment
Gain knowledge of and practise in the principles of the Psychology of Vision model
Discover your power to step beyond being a victim or a victimiser
Learn the meaning of your life and discover your purpose
Find practical ways to inspire your friends and family, and be a leader in your community and the world.[53]

These explanations remind more of a conditioning of students with a set of behavioural rules and of thinking rather than a course enabling advancement. Participants are supposed to improve their life with a compulsory toolkit provided by the organisation. Additionally, participants apparently are prompted to proselytise among family and friends, and are baited with the prospect of becoming "leaders". Another incentive is given with pointing out the 10-day credit to the 100-Day-Programme participants will earn, plus obtaining as many as three workbooks which "on completion of the course become life-long reference manuals".[53]

The German website additionally mentions some of the issues covered during this programme:

Introduction to Psychology of Vision - Phases and stages of relationships - The power of our consciousness - Power struggle - Communication and principles - Projection and forgiveness of transformation - The Triangle model - Personal responsibility and solving problems - Doctrine and patterns - Life-task, vision and fulfilment - The Ego and the higher Self - Emotional evolution - Dependencies and overcoming them "Joining" - Relationships and family dynamics "Love, clemency, and miracles".[56]

PoV's targeting seems to include business companies, as the introduction of one Canadian trainer claims, she "knows firsthand the process a company must go through to make the necessary shifts required to be transformational leaders".[57] If managers or owners recruited by PoV are prompted to run their enterprise according to PoV rules and techniques, this may negatively effect their business operations, as is known from cases in which companies were reorganised according to Scientology standing orders.

The Trainer Programme[edit]

This information is supplied at the German website and outlines the prerequisites of an application to this programme:

Applicants must have graduated from the 100-Day-Programme and have done a Mastery Programme in the previous year. Applications must be announced at least one year prior to handing in the actual application with the director of the Trainer Programme (presently Francine Girard). The announcement should happen until the end of January. Applicants are expected to have taught one course of Steps-to-Leadership on their own with at least four participants until July 1st of the application year. Confirmation of graduation of the Awakening Process by a PoV Trainer. Having read at least three books on Psychology of Vision by either Lency or Chuck Spezzano. Computer access, e-mail, skype, internet, as well as the ability of forthright self-evaluation. Chosing a mentor for the application year.
Psychology of Vision Trainers will continue to attend various workshops and will receive support from experienced trainers in the form of supervision.[58]

It is apparent that, due to the considerable advance, the procedure causes a long-term commitment of participants.

Psychology of Vision for Schools[edit]

This is again further information provided in the German-language section of the PoV website and does not get mentioned in the English-language sections. The programme by the name of VisionWorks was set up by Sue Allen from the British branch, who is said to be both a PoV Trainer and a teacher, and aims at students and teachers. Since the description points out that the programme is meant to apply to entire classes of students, the main target for recruitment into this programme will apparently be teachers.

Among the aims lined out is:

To dissolve conflicts and anger not when they erupt, but, using the right awareness, already in their emergence; Positive emotional intelligence for students; motivating to learn and improving learn processes; communicating emotions forthrightly and without affront; to improve cohesion within grades; Understanding and being understood.
VisionWorks programmes supply young people with important abilities for their lives which are useful for themselves, their schools and the entire society.[59]

When speaking of dissolving conflicts and anger as they emerge, the programme seems to aim at suppressing conflict and anger rather than providing or teaching adequate methods to deal with and solve them in acceptable ways, or ways to cope with frustration. This eventually will not lead to an improved feeling of cohesion, but to such issues being suppressed and covered up in an atmosphere of reinforced superficial and pretended smiles.

Two sets of benefits are mentioned, one for students, the other for teachers:

For students:
It helps students to make more positive decisions regarding their behaviour. The establishment of an independent learning behaviour, an increased emotional maturity. It helps students to feel more assured and included at school.[59]

These benefits listed remind of an instant solution, a shortcut which allegedly realises in the time of one workshop what takes years of maturing in real life. It also indicates a rather mechanistic view of human nature, presuming that, with the appropriate input of methods and techniques, the same results will be reproduceable with every person.

VisionWorks for Teachers:
Optimising of homeroom classes with simple moduls immediately useable. Improving of behaviour and tolerance in students. Establishing a common language in order to handle conflicts and differing views.[59]

While this may sound appealing to stressed teachers at first sight, this goes beyond a mechanistic view of human nature as expressed once more in the initial two sentences. The language used bears one striking resemblance to Scientology's redefinitions when differing views are to be "handled". Furthermore, establishing a common language may well mean the implementation of cult-like terms, creating a closed group communicating in a language not understood by outsiders due to the redefinition of words. On the other hand, teaching curricula make it quite evident that differing views are nothing to be handled, but to be encouraged as one result of democratic pluralism. It is also not possible to "handle" conflicts simply by introducing a common language. Students exposed to such procedures will not learn to cope with pluralism, or learn to seek solutions in case of conflicting interests. The course therefore may be quite detrimental to providing students with adequate knowledge and social abilities for their future lives in a democratic society.

Joining[edit]

This is usually presented as a fairly recent addition to the PoV system, and of course as a „groundbreaking“ method developed by Lency Spezzano. Joining is also described as a healing method. It is sometimes said it was based on an ancient healing method without mentioning its origins explicitely.[60] Apparently the method is to establish an eye-contact with a particular person but instead of concentrating on the other person, participants are expected to put the focus on their own feelings and thus „burn“ negative, blocking feelings which are eventually to be healed with the power of love and transformed into positive, inspiring feelings.[60]

On the other hand, Joining is described as utilising the „feminine, direct access to divine love, resulting in the release of emotional pain from the body/mind and the experience of miracles of forgiveness and grace.“[7] These varying descriptions apparently intend to make the method appealing to varying groups of persons.

Psychology of Vision Trainers[edit]

The trainers available in the various branches are listed in the respective sections of the PoV site, with Chuck and Lency Spezzano usually being listed at the top. The German-language section additionally lists two trainers from Great Britain, one of the a so-called Master Trainer, before introducing German-language trainers who are all Level-1-trainers. The US section names but one person who is the director of the PoV International Programme at the same time.

Trainers do not always mention their previous professional experience, but of those who do, none held a job as a psychologist or claims to have studied psychology. So apart from their exposure to Psychology of Vision (with for some trainers is said to be more than 20 years, in one case since the 1980ies), none of the trainers is a trained psychologist.

In fact, trainers come from various professional backgrounds, like nurse (1), horse trainer (1), alternative practicioner (2), social pedagogue (1), kindergarten nurse (1), trainer at a drama school (1), real estate agent (1), manager (1), executive director of an alternative health institution (1), in a non-specified healing profession (1), anthropologist (1), housewife (2).

Some apply further Newage methods, like Hawaiian bodywork, kinesiology, or waterbalancing. Others claim to have participated in self-awareness and healing seminars, were into indigenous spirituality and have e.g. participated in Sun Dances, or were a student of A Course in Miracles.

From the ranks mentioned, there is a hierarchical system of trainers with Level 1 and Level 2 trainers and Master Trainers. The site does not provide information regarding how to advance in this system nor does it mention any costs connected with this. The Trainers' Manual added to the German section of the PoV site offers more detail regarding the licence fees due to be paid by PoV trainers:
"The Licence Fees are:
Trainer 1: $ 5.000, - USD
Trainer 2: $ 6.750, - USD
Trainer 3: $ 7.500, - USD
Trainer 4: $ 8.000, - USD"[61]
This fee must be paid annually; the mentioned amounts were due for 2013.

PoV and its International Branches[edit]

According to the PoV International website, there are seven branches listed: Asia (in Chinese language), Canada, Hawaii (this opens the website of Chuck and Lency Spezzano), Japan (in Japanese), Mainland Europe (so far restricted to German-speaking countries Germany, Switzerland, Austria), UK and Ireland, and USA. Individual trainers also have their own websites promoting the sale of PoV-connected courses and, if applicable, courses and seminars in further Newage methods they may apply.

Seminars and workshops are done by almost all of these branches; the notable exception, as becomes apparent from the PoV website, being US mainland. Additionally, there is only one trainer mentioned for US mainland, and she only does events in Canada, but not in the USA. Despite this, the trainer seems to be quite high in rank within the PoV system. The Spezzanos also do not do any workshops or lectures in US mainland, only in Hawaii and in various other countries worldwide.

Economic activities and companies[edit]

Despite PoV claiming and demanding transparency, there is only little information available online. Apparently, PoV's economic activities are executed by a Hawaii based company "Spezzano and Associates". Another company, PoV DACH GmbH [Ltd.] was founded in Switzerland. Apart from these, most, if not all PoV trainers run their own business, selling PoV-based seminars and workshops either exclusively or accompanied by various other Newage and or CAM methods.

Spezzano & Associates Ltd.[edit]

This company was founded in Hawaii, but information is rather scarce. It is mentioned in various business platforms, although the information provided differs slighty. According to an entry with the Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, the annual sales volume was between USD 500,000 and USD 999,999, and they provide the detail that Lency Spezzano is the company's vice president. The Chamber places Spezzano & Associates in the category of "5 to 9 Employees", with the exact number of employes given as eight.[62]

Another platform provides the detail that Spezzano & Associates was founded in 1998 and is into "Business Services"[63] N.E.C., while still another directory claims their being founded in 1980 already; aditionally, the annual revenue gets listed as USD 1 million with a total of six employees, and their activities are specified as "Lecture Bureau".[64]

PoV International Association[edit]

A further organisation allegedly maintained is the „International Association of Psychology of Vision“, also named as „Psychology of Vision International Association“, and „PoVIA“ operating in „Mainland Europe“, i.e. presently the countries Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.[65] However, the only publications mentioning this PovVIA in any way are the PoV Trainers' Manuals.

PoV-DACH GmbH[edit]

In Switzerland, a company registered as PoV-DACH GmbH was founded in 2012 as a successor of a liquidated company by the name of „Psychology of Vision DACH“ which has been operating since 2003.

PoV-DACH GmbH is situated in Solothurn/Switzerland with three persons listed as CEOs: Susanne Ernst, Mathias Keller, and Josef Neuschmid. Ernst and Keller are listed as trainers on Psychology of Vision websites, while Neuschmid does not seem to be a trainer but is mentioned in advertisements for lectures and seminars by PoV or Chuck Spezzano in person. According to public information provided by Swiss authorities, all three of them have single signing authority. The purpose of PoV-DACH GmbH is:

“The organisation and conducting of lectures and events in the field of awareness raising, personality development and communication as well as trading goods of all sorts, and realising of further services connected to the main purpose. May adapt related branches of business, hold interest in other enterprises at home or abroad respectively resume or found enterprises, establish branches at home and abroad and furthermore engage in all commercial, financial, and other activities which will further the enterprise's purpose as well as purchase, hold, and sell real estate and properties at home and abroad“
Capital fund: CHF 21,000.00.“[66]

The former „Psychology of Vision DACH“ had a far more limited scope of activities:

“Date of registration: 09.12.2003
Purpose:
The Association's purpose is to further personality development, health, and spirituality. This may be achieved, amongst others, by offering courses, seminars, lectures or other events, through public relations as well as by other suitable activities.[67]

The German version of the Trainers' Manual issued by PoV further requests that all trainers belonging to the PoV Mainland Europe section transfer their annual trainer's licences to an account in Switzerland:

“Payment of annual licences must be made in US Dollar per bank transfer to:
International Association of Psychology of Vision
Vom-Staal-Weg 3, 4500 Solothurn, Switzerland
Bank address: Credit Suisse (CS)
P.O.Box 3xx, 4502 Solothurn, Schweiz
Account no: 150 2491xxx
[...]
All cost for transfering amounts have to be covered by payer.
Further inquiries to be made with Susanne Ernst [...]“[68]

The address given for this International Association is in fact the same postal address as used by the PoV-DACH GmbH.

PoV Activities and Mode of Operation in Canada[edit]

The Canadian branch merits a closer look, as there are noteworthy differences as compared to the other branches. One is its focus on Steps-to-Leadership Programmes and, therefore, a business clientele. Apart from the above mentioned "Steps to Leadership", this is propagated with a separate website and Facebook group both called "Visionary Leaders Canada". The FB group advertises dates for meetings of a so-called "Corporate Forum" addressing CEOs in particular. The invitations claim: "We are 'The Leaders The World Is Waiting For'." Participation in such a meeting requires an entry fee of CAD 60.00.[69]

The other difference is its targeting of First Nations. So far, there are activities at several reserves in Canada effecting the nations of Secwepemc (Shuswap), Haida, St'át'imc (Lillooet), Kwagiulth, Nisga'a, Gitxsan, Stó:lo (Coast Salish) and the Iskut Band (Tahltan).

The mode of operation as far as can be established first seems to seek to recruit First Nations individuals to take courses, preferably persons holding positions within tribal governments and administrations. These converts are then expected to proselytise among families, friends, and nations. Presently (September 2013), there are course facilitators and trainers from at least the Haida nation, the Tsimshian, and the Nuxalk (Bella Coola).

One incentive to look for clientele within these usually non-affluent communities may have been the fact that the Canadian government launched funds for the treatment of survivors of residential schools. Residential schools were run by the Canadian government and various denominations for First Nations students from 1876, with the last one being closed in 1996. In some parts of Canada, residential schools were the only option for First Nations, Metis, and Inuit children, and about 150,000 children passed through the residential school system.[70]

Education in these schools meant a, sometimes forceful, removal of students from their families. The use of ancestral languages was forbidden. Many children were exposed to physical, mental, and sexual abuse, and some children were also subjected to compulsory sterilisation. The schools also had a high mortality rate due to abuse, suicide, and disease. In 1998, the Canadian government established the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF), provided with CAD 350 million and receiving another CAD 40 million in 2005, to fund community-based healing projects.[70] AHF has meanwhile ceased funding operations.

Unsubstantiated Claims and Double Standards[edit]

The PoV website propagates its methods and goals for First Nations communities:

About 10 years ago Chuck & Lency were inspired to work more closely with First Nations people. The POV Healing Model has been graciously welcomed in many First Nation communities, as it aligns with many First Nations belief systems. Psychology of Vision is dedicated to awakening the giftedness of indigenous peoples on the planet.[71]

The claim of PoV aligning with many First Nations belief systems does not get substantiated in any way and remains a mere assertion. This is also true for the final sentence in this paragraph, contending that PoV was dedicated to awakening the giftedness of indigenous peoples, which expresses a racist view in assuming that indigenous peoples have to be "awakened" to make use of their gifts.

The First Nations Fund[edit]

The PoV website mentions the existence of a so-called First Nations Fund aimed at supporting the promotion of Psychology of Vision within Native American nations in Canada. The site further explains that a "First Nations Fund was created to support the healing of First Nations so they can teach & inspire their own communities. Financial contributions have been generously donated from each country where Psychology of Vision is taught around the world. Since its inception the First Nations Fund has successfully graduated 19 First Nations people from the 100 day program, and 9 of these graduates have become FN Trainers around BC.[71]

It is also noteworthy that the site does not mention which nations these graduates and trainers belong to. Reading the text carefully, it seems this fund only applies to cost of accomodation and food, not to course fees:

Applications for the First Nations to subsidize accommodation expenses are on an “as-needs basis” for the upcoming June 2012 Apprenticeship. The funding application deadline is April 30, 2012, applications made after this date may not be considered.[71]

Interestingly, the German-language section of the PoV website contains different information regarding the admission of First Nations participants and the fund:

The First Nations Fund came into being as a supply to cope with the numerous problems within the various tribes. Up to now, 25 First Nations have graduated from the 100-Day-Programme and presently, there are 5 First Nations PoV Trainers in Canada introducing their knowledge in various regions and reservations.
Generous financial contributions have been made to the fund from all parts of the earth where PoV is being taught.They ensure First Nations to participate in seminars and offer support for travel expense and accomodation during the trainings.[72]

This wording rather insinuates a funding of course fees as well, although it does not exactly advertise this, and this is not the only instance the different sections of the site provide contradicting information. The differences in figures mentioned for graduates and trainers in the English and German versions are also interesting and do not get explained by PoV. The Canadian site informs readers of seminar descriptions to inquire about special First Nations tuiton prices, with further reductions for couples, seniors, and students available.[73]

While the English language sections of the site do not offer any further information regarding the Fund, the German language section, and particularly the Trainers' Manual published there, go into far more detail. The German Trainers' Manual contains a section K informing about the Fund which has been left out entirely in the English version of the Trainers' Manual.

At first sight, the Fund intends to give financial support PoV seminars, workshops, and other events provided they are organised in reservations and Native communities for a predominantly Native clientele. Unlike the usual procedure, organising trainers may apply for having their total cost (travel expense, cost for hotels etc if needed, etc.) paid under the Fund. Trainers may even pay their annual Licence Fees in part or in total by organising PoV events within First Nations, and the Manual even provides details regarding the exact amounts trainers will be able to deduct from their Licence Fee per seminar: e.g. the amount of USD 350 for a full seminar day and USD 175 for half a seminar day.[74]

Native persons applying to become trainers also may be supported by the First Nations Fund. However, applicants are supposed to provide details regarding in which way their becoming a trainer will contribute to the „wellbeing of the planet“. The Manual provides guidelines here in mentioning that applicants may assert they are going to introduce PoV methods to their tribal elders and traditional representatives, within their families and communities, and to introduce their superiors within tribal managements and administration structures to PoV and PoV methods, prompting them to book seminars and apply PoV themselves within personal life and work environment. The applicants' success is then controled through compulsory quarterly reports.[75]

While the Manual does not provide any information on how the Fund is financed, or information regarding the actual use of monies by the Fund – with the exception of an amount of USD 100 per month paid to the Fund Manager -, persons or communities receiving funding are expected to grant transparency regarding the use of amounts towards PoV.

The FN Fund thus provides incentives to organise events within First Nations and invites both First Nation trainer applicants and applicants trying to obtain funding of seminar fees to recruit persons not only from their families and communities, but in particular from traditional as well as administrative and management structures.[76] This may be seen as a systematic and multi-level targeting of First Nations.

Front organisations and multiple targeting[edit]

In at least one case, PoV made use of a front organisation applying for public and private funding via a Ngystle Society. The society's website neither mentions a non-profit status nor does it provide information on its managing board.[77] However, Ngystle Society received as much as CAD 475,300 from the Aboriginal Health Foundation to provide counseling to the Haida nation, the funding having ended in March 2010.[78]

Ngystle Society received some further CAD 270,000 between 2004 and 2009 from the Gwaii Trust.[79] The Gwaii Trust, however, has stopped its funding of "Healthy Humans" projects and revised its policy so that core funding and applications for repetitive grants are no longer possible.[80]

Since then, Ngystle Society continues to promote PoV seminars as well as further Newage products and treatments, in particular an Amethyst Bio-Mat and a device named Trinfinity8 for a variety of uses ranging from rejuvenation to pain relief and as a treatment of diseases. Ngystle Society also cooperates with so-called shaman Erick Gonzalez, a Guatemaltekan living in the USA who claims to be Maya, but goes with a name taken from the Aztec Nahuatl language.[81] Already in September 2012, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police issued a warning on Gonzalez for the suspected use of drugs like Peyote, Ayahuasca, and Mescaline during alleged religious ceremonies.[82]

Another organisation used by PoV seems to be "Kelmuc Circle of Friendship Society" which at least in one case was named as the organisation accepting checks in payment of a PoV seminar taking place at the reserve of the Adams Lake Band.[83]

Another way in which First Nations are being targeted are additional attempts to sell charlatan products and healing methods not evidence-based. One example for this is the Adams Lake Band (Secwepemc) in British Columbia, where PoV is selling their courses. The band's Newsletter for September 2013 announces a "Steps to Leadership" programme beginning September 19, 2013 with registration fees amounting to CAD 2,000 per person. The advertisement points out that fees have to be paid in advance.[84] The band's newsletters for November 8, 2012 advertised a "The Path of the Spirit" workshop for the weekend of November 17-18 at CAD 150.[83] The same newsletter displays further advertisements, e.g. for "Transformational & Esoteric Acupuncture" by a Nuage vendor who also does PoV. He seems to be cooperating with the tribal Wellness Deptmt. as the advertisement says they were taking instalment payments. Acupuncture is mainly effective in the way of a placebo and, depending on the hygiene observed by practicioners, may even present dangers to the health of clients. Another person advertises as a Reiki practioner. This is in sharp contrast to courses offered by the tribal government which make evident that membership of the band is far from affluent; one of the courses with one-on-one counseling is titled "Just Got Paid and Don't Have Any Money Left".[83]

The band's newsletter dated May 2, 2013 announced one PoV two-day workshop titled "Receiving Gifts & Guidance from Spirit"[85] and another PoV two-day workshop "Living your Purpose" advertised in March 2013.[86]

The St'át'imc have been targeted at least from 2010[87] up to 2012[88] and workshops were organised in at least one community. For one of these seminars, persons named to contact for more information on seminars were from the tribal council and had respective e-mail addresses.

Another First Nation targeted by PoV courses since at least 2010 are the Stó:lo.[89] Their Newsletter from July/August 2010 (i.e. at a point in time when AHF funding for residential school survivors had come to an end) carries an article on "Loss and Resilience in First Nation Communities" which, written by a PoV Trainer, addresses the issue of residential schools.

Versions of this article in other languages

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