Part 5: ESP coach gives fulsome explanation on why she stayed and why she left ESP

Editor’s note: A coach who left ESP gave this explanation on the comments page. It seems to be worth publishing on its own post.


The former ESP coach writes:

A few people here have asked some questions that I have asked myself many times, both while I was an active member of the organization, and after I left.

When I attended my first intensive, it was because I was unhappy in both my personal and professional lives. Much of the information and ‘tools’ presented to me during the intensive was enough to help me effect positive changes in my relationships, and to stop seeing the world from only one perspective.

The methods and information presented to us are available in the world – I’ve learned since that there were many other ways I could have got it. That said, I had a couple of major ‘aha’ moments.

The intensive experience is both difficult and freeing. And it’s a shared experience with others that creates a bond. I saw the ‘community’ that the coaches and proctors shared, and I liked it. I saw students have major shifts in their perspective that were good for them. I still believe that the way the information is presented, and much of the information itself is positive.

But good things can be used with bad intent. We were told the mission of the ‘school’ was to ‘make the world a better place to live’. That seemed pretty good to me. Improve myself, help others to improve themselves – how could that be bad?

It turns out that was a lie, as evidenced by all the material that Mr. Parlato has uncovered here. The mission of the school appears to be for the procurement of sexual partners for Keith Raniere.

I don’t know how ‘high up’ one has to go to find people who knew this. Was it only Keith Raniere, and he duped everyone? Or are there others who were complicit? We may never know. It seems that he is a master manipulator.

As for why did I devalue my time enough to be a slave for NXIVM? It was something I struggled with regularly. Here is some text I sent my coach that has not been included in the material presented by Mr. Parlato:

“So, based on all this, you’re probably wondering why I coach and want to continue doing intensives. Although I really don’t like the way coaches are treated in some respects, I get a real charge from helping people discover the material. I love to see students have a genuine ‘aha’ moment, and recognize that they can move their lives in a more positive direction. I have benefitted from the education in such a positive way for my life. I’m happy now . . . and I wasn’t when I first came into the organization. I’ve transformed the way I think. And it’s a way better place in my head than it used to be. If I can help others along this path, it’s a great joy to me. And so I recognize that because I enjoy doing that, and ESP offers me the vehicle to do that, I am willing to take part. I don’t love the vehicle 100% because of some of the things I’ve said here, but one can usually effect more change from within than from without.”

To K.R. Claviger:

You are correct that a coach cannot be a coach to their enrollee, however, there never seemed to be a problem coaching an intensive where an enrollee was there. I never felt I was being cut off from friends and family – my coaches were instrumental in helping me see my patterns where I was pushing them away, and helped me to see things in a way where I could make those relationships better.. I think in any business, the salespeople are always trying to make the clients feel good about what they have purchased, and as a coach I was never told to try to get people to cut people off.

People very close to me were concerned that I was in a cult. I never for a moment believed it. And that’s because one of the early modules every student takes is dealing with ‘people who holler cult’. It all seems very reasonable – in retrospect, I see that there are some modules that are a mind-fuck.

To Vandouche

– I’ve enjoyed your participation on this website very much. You ask how we would judge the sincerity of it since it was just a form of control to get us to take more courses, and why we would do that to other people? I can honestly say we thought we were helping people like we felt we had been helped. I still believe a good part of the curriculum was instrumental in helping me make positive changes in my life. It’s the parts where we were being mind-controlled that are disturbing. I don’t think the material is bad. It’s been used for bad purposes by a master manipulator. We didn’t know it.

I can say that all the people I met while a part of this organization had good intent, and wanted their lives and the lives of others to be happy. When I left the organization, it was bittersweet – I didn’t wish to participate in the ‘free labor’ part of it any longer, but I did really miss the regular contact with the community. Fortunately, we have a social media place where we can regularly communicate, and still do. Most of us are left feeling stunned at the way we were duped.

It’s a sad thing that something that was so good for so many of us has turned out to be a very bad thing.

About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • Vandouche- you are correct. It’s a business that exists to make money . . . for a VERY FEW of the people involved. The ‘tools’ and information are indeed available in the ‘outside’ world. They hooked us in by telling us that the way they deliver the information is proprietary and the most effective way of understanding it. And whether it’s proprietary or not, much of the way I received the info was helpful to me. I don’t dispute that part of what they say, and as a result of the classes, I became more confident in my own decisions, understood that I was not a ‘victim’ in the world, that I had choices that I could act on or not, and as a result many of my relationships (including that with myself) changed for the better. As for the mission – I don’t believe it ever existed. But it was a good hook. I remember having a conversation with a proctor once about how if they truly wanted to spread the info and make the world a better place, that perhaps they should charge less so that the average person could actually afford the courses. Of course, I got the lecture about ‘value’ and how it was my ‘shit’ coming up – the usual gaslighting tactics that I can see now in retrospect. I’m not sure that the proctors even understood that they were gaslighting – they’d been trained that way from day one.

    A Simple Question on Money – “whoever recruited a new member would receive a percentage of that new member’s fees…..true?”. No, not necessarily. If you were a ‘salesperson’, then you would receive a commission. I don’t know how many sales needed to be made in a month to qualify as I never was interested in that. I had my own business to run. However, if a person recruited 3 people for an intensive or for Ethos, then they would receive the intensive or Ethos for free. With Ethos, it depended on whether your recruits stayed in and paid up or not – several people received free Ethos because their recruits stayed in and kept paying.

    More Questions for Ex-Coach – No, I am not from New York, and was never at any of the New York centres. Word of mouth, recommendations by friends are the way they market. There’s no advertising. I joined back when the internet was still in its infancy, and it never occurred to me to look it up. I took a very good friend’s word that the course would help me in my business and personal life. And it did. At the time, I wasn’t looking for anything that would ‘fix’ my world. I just assumed it was the way it was and it didn’t occur to me that I could do anything about it – so there would have been no reason to search out courses or psychiatrists . (Vandouche – the way I am today vs. back then is a direct result of the classes and coaching I took – you mentioned in an earlier comment that no-one could articulate how they had changed. I hope this is helpful.) As for Landmark – years later several students came to ESP that had taken the Landmark program, and when I asked them about the comparison, almost to a person they thought that ESP delivered the content in a more effective way than Landmark. So I didn’t feel a need to take two expensive courses!

    As for the alleged goal of building a more noble, ethical civilization. Who wouldn’t want that? I’m not sure now that it ever existed (see comment to Vandouche above). If it did, I think it fell by the wayside a long time ago. I never felt ‘chosen’ or ‘humbled’. But I’ve always been a big proponent of volunteering and taking part in things – I’m not a sideline kind of person. So it was natural to me to want to work for something that I believed in. I absolutely questioned the way they were going about it – it seemed to me it could be delivered to a lot more people a lot faster if they advertised, got accredited in schools, charged less – on and on. But they insisted that Keith had thought it all out and the way it was being done was correct and the most ‘ethical’. Feedback was never taken, in my experience.

    I questioned the NDA on my second day of the intensive. The answer they gave me satisfied that, and I let it go. They indicated that in order for people to understand the concepts, they needed to learn them much the way we learn arithmetic as children – in a specific way (theirs of course!). If someone tried to teach the information and did it the ‘wrong’ way, then people wouldn’t understand and it would harm them in trying to attract new students as people would think it didn’t work. And they would then lose potential clients and income. The lack of transparency really didn’t come up for me. Many companies have proprietary information they don’t share, and many don’t advertise in traditional ways, so I didn’t pay it much attention.

    No I was not familiar with Abraham Maslow and his Characteristics of a Self-Actualized Person. I do feel the tools I learned via ESP helped me become a happier person, and I have no regrets about taking the intensives and participating in Ethos. What I have regrets about is that we were led to believe in the company ‘mission’ and we now find out it was all a bunch of hooey. I’d like to know how high up one has to go to find those who knew it was all BS.

    “Can and Will NXIVM/ESP survive the DOS scandal? If it were up to you how would you rebrand NXIVM/ESP?” I can’t imagine how it could survive DOS, and all the information that has been uncovered here on this website. When the Tacoma centre closed down, there was little information for anyone to access. That was a different time and place. Pretty much anyone who has been involved with this company is following this site with sick fascination at how we were taken in. It is NOT the company we thought it was. Many people spent thousands upon thousands of dollars taking ‘higher level’ courses and went into serious debt. They are mad as hell. I am too. But I stand by my comment that the content and the delivery of the content (for the most part – not the bits where the gaslighting occurs) is good. If the mission truly were to make the world a better place to live, then this is the kind of content that should be taught in schools. For free.

    • Thanks very much for taking so much time and effort to share your experience.
      I had been sure that a new recruit would smell the BS quickly and get out of ESP, but your story tells me that you might not suspect brainwashing if you felt ESP was actually helping you–and who doesn’t yearn for help with something.
      As for the sex cult–it seems from you (and other insiders) that if you weren’t in NY and near KR, you may not have been victimized, or even aware, of his pre-DOS sexual manipulations.
      Thanks again….

  • Thanks for the answer, but my question was actually rhetorical. It is the participants who are providing the ammunition for groups like these when you tell them what you believe are the worst parts of you. It is then they who use this information to exploit you. They neither have the credentials to assess whether you have an issue – if you indeed have one – nor the ability to solve them. Their entire purpose is to get you to take more courses because IT’S A BUSINESS that is a for-profit organization. There was no mission to change the world to a more noble civilization. That’s just the hook to get you involved (along with your own personal issues) and to keep you involved so they can thought reform you for their purposes. In this case, the purpose is to hide the sex cult of VanDouche, i.e., to find women for his harem to fuck. It’s whatever you want to get out of it, and in the process, a chance for them to manipulate you for their ends.While it may provide useful “tools”, you can get the same from self-help books, because , it rips things off from already existing material that VanDouche never came up with. He just stole it and re-branded it for his own ends.

  • I had the (maybe mistaken) impression that whoever recruited a new member would receive a percentage of that new member’s fees…..true?

    • Not true. Only if you became a salesperson. And to do that and maintain it you needed to basically continually enroll one person per month in perpetuity.Though they added some kind of credit system later but you never got money. I think the company was very resistant to parting with any of its cash.

  • First, thank you for sharing your experiences and insight. Obviously, you are an intelligent and I would reckon, thoughtful person because you calculated out the whole opportunity cost of coaching but you still wanted to help others achieve what you had learned regardless of the cost (or at least for a while)!

    Since the Times Union series ran in Feb 2012 recruiting in the Capital District allegedly dried up. Pretty much anyone who read the series was aware of Keith and his harem and where it was located. Plus, the sash or scarf wearing women with their own whispered jargon kind of stood out in the downtown coffee shops of Saratoga Springs and Mocha Lisa’s in Clifton Park.

    Assuming, you are not from the Upstate NY area, how was ESP marketed? Did you find out about it from a friend? Was it advertised? Its seems like the Vancouver Center had a lot of actors and actresses, and people from the arts as students so I would guess it may have been word of mouth through out that community. Before you enrolled, did you google ESP or NXIVM and stumble upon any negative info assuming you enrolled after the TU series ran.? Did you have second thoughts after your first course, second, third? Why did you choose NXIVM vs say Landmark forum or LifeSpring two of the bigger LGAT’s. that are out there. (As an aside the founder of Lululemon Chip Wilson from Vancouver BC was a participant in Landmark and Lululemon employees in the early years were pushed to attend Landmark to move up). And, Why ESP/NXIVM vs say counseling/psychotherapy that may have been covered by insurance.

    The alleged goal of ESP/NXIVM is or was to build a more noble ethical civilization. Do you think the organization has completely lost sight of that? If the goal is to build a more noble civilization did you ever question why more people weren’t taking the courses and why it wasn’t growing rapidly?. Did you feel like you were a “chosen one” since you were learning tools to build this more noble ethical civilization compared to outsiders or supressives or did you feel humbled to be on this path? Did you ever question what level of growth within the organization it would take to spread this message to the masses. The reason I ask is, I would assume the logic goes, something like this: If we humans work on our issues utilizing say RI and everyone used these tools to work on themselves, the human race would evolve to a much kinder and ethical civilization.

    Did you ever question the reason behind/need for the NDA you signed and the lack of transparency of NXIVM as a Company?

    Were you familiar at all with Abraham Maslow and his Characteristics of a Self-Actualized Person? Do you feel the tools you learned via ESP helped you become a happier person?. (If so then there should be no regrets because it did serve a purpose).

    And now the ten million dollar question.!!:

    Can and Will NXIVM/ESP survive the DOS scandal? If it were up to you how would you rebrand NXIVM/ESP?

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

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Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083