Sensitivity Training*

New Age Psychology in the Church

Sensitivity Training
-- a Satanic brainwashing technique (also called Relational Therapy), the results of which lead believers to "gracefully accept" rather than "scripturally oppose" evil and evil workers.

Traditional psychology involved two persons -- the patient on the couch and the psychologist in the armchair. Now, people with things troubling their minds meet in groups to "talk, walk, cry, comfort, touch, feel, etc." Very few of the people who become involved in these group sessions actually realize what is taking place. The truth is that they have become involved in sensitivity training, a clever psychological technique and tool for producing change.

Sensitivity Training is really a form of brainwashing, originated by the communists and refined and renamed for American consumption. The Russian scientist, Pavlov, whose experiments with the behavior of dogs and the methods of controlling their actions and reactions seems to have influenced Lenin's philosophy of controlling people through the psychological manipulations of the mind. This whole theory, of course, is based on the unscriptural, animalistic, evolutionary concept of man and it has been used for years by the communists -- both Russian and Chinese -- to bind their people in mental and physical slavery. 

-  Sensitivity Training in the United States apparently had its beginning about 1946, with the formation of the National Training Laboratories in Group Development. In 1947, the name was changed to the National Training Laboratories Institute for Applied Behavioral Science under the auspices of the National Education Association Adult Education Service. In 1962, it became a separate division of the NEA, and in 1967, it became an independent nonprofit corporation associated with the National Education Association. This relationship is important to understand, since every effort is being made to make Sensitivity Training mandatory for all public schools. The NEA is alone one of the prime promoters of Sex Education in the public schools and there is a definite relationship between Sex Education and Sensitivity Training.

-  A very simple definition of Sensitivity Training is: "Psychological techniques and programs designed to change the standards, attitudes and behavior of individuals." The term "sensitivity training" was apparently coined by behavioral scientists who are obsessed with the idea that a Utopian society and world can be realized through psychological means.

Sensitivity Training goes by many different names to deceive the unwary. Sensitivity training techniques have always been presented under a variety of names, but with the recent exposures of the true nature and character of sensitivity training, the proliferation of names is astounding. Here are some of the names under which sensitivity training now masquerades:

  • Reality Therapy

  • Conflict Management

  • New Consciousness

  • Psycho-Drama

  • Developing Personal Potential

  • Feeling Therapy

  • Marathon Therapy

  • Nude Therapy

  • Interpersonal Relations

  • Group Development

  • Group Therapy

  • Group Theory

  • Personal Development Lab

  • Group Dynamics

  • Group Confession

  • Group Discussion

  • Interpersonal Competence

  • Interpersonal Behavior

  • Conflict Resolution

  • Self-Evaluation

  • T-Group Training

  • Auto-Criticism

  • Prayer Therapy

  • Basic Encounter Group

  • Operant Conditioning

  • Human Potential Workshop

  • Synanon Games Club

  • Cybernetics

  • Mind Set

  • Family Life Education

  • Body Awareness

  • Cursillo Movements

  • Community Relations

  • Enhancement of Human Potential

  • Leadership Class

  • Management Development

  • Socio Drama

  • Sociometry

  • Truth Sessions

  • Self-Honesty Sessions

  • Micro-labs

  • Group Life Institute

  • Team Interpretation

  • Gestalt Therapy

  • Role Playing

  • Social Psychology

  • Confrontation Groups

  • Actualization Groups

  • Sensory Playing

  • Sensory Awareness Groups

  • Growth Groups

  • Social Philosophy

  • Personality Evaluation

  • Human Relations Lab

  • Gut Level Talks

Of course, not everything presented under these titles is sensitivity training, but when you see any of these names, it will bear investigation.

-  What is the real purpose of Sensitivity Training? Proponents of this technique claim that it will increase love and trust, open up honest communication, develop leadership and produce greater understanding and sensitivity for the feelings of others. Who could find fault with such noble goals? What actually happens, however, is that after hearing others in the group confess their wrong doings (either real or imagined) the individual is likely to feel that his own sins are not so bad after all, thus paving the way for acceptance of lower moral standards. The government, the family, the home, our friends, and our religious beliefs may all be torn to pieces by the group, thus placing extreme pressure on the individual to feel that his own previously held standards were too high or too unrealistic. The extreme anti-Christian character or sensitivity training may be clearly seen by the fact that their standards of conduct and morals must be based on group consensus rather than on the sure and eternal Word of God.

-  Sensitivity training involves group confession where the individual's problems become the problems of the group, which in turn tries to find a solution. After criticizing others and being criticized yourself, doubt is introduced into the mind of each individual as to whose standards are really proper. Suppose your child were the only Christian in a sensitivity training group situation! Can you imagine how hard it would be to withstand the attacks from all the others in this group upon his faith in Christ, his obedience to his parents, and his Biblical standards of morality and decency? The extreme pressures that can be brought to bear on any individual in a small group situation should not be underestimated. It is dangerous to permit our children and youth to be subjected to such pressures.

How to Spot Sensitivity Training Sessions: We have already pointed out that you can't go by the name "sensitivity training" alone. In addition, not every sensitivity training session will use the exact same techniques. The following methods are given only because they are perhaps the most frequently used and readily observable procedures:

1. One or more people in the group, known technically as trainers, or change agents, or facilitators, will give the impression that they are merely stimulating free expression or openness, but will actually by manipulating the group, without their knowledge, if possible.

2. Most sensitivity training sessions stress agreement upon certain ground rules, which actually become the first foundation of sensitivity training, since individuals hesitate to break rules which they themselves agreed to at the outset. Such rules may simply be agreeing to stay until the session is ended; agreeing to be open and honest in all conversations; agreeing not to talk during non-verbal exercises; and in some cases, the rules go so far as to agree not to object to language normally thought objectionable in the group.

3. You will probably be asked to speak of or write out your greatest problems or faults or hang-ups so the group can make suggestions as to how you can overcome these things. You, in turn, may be encouraged to criticize others in the group if you feel they are not fully open or honest in confessing their faults.

4. Non-verbal exercises may be used where individuals are asked to convey their feelings by some means other than words. This may involve the use of the eyes, facial expression, or body movement, including touching each other's hands, faces, or bodies in an effort to communicate feeling.

5. Periods of silence and meditation with eyes either closed or open are frequently used when the discussions seem to be developing in the wrong way or when the trainer desires to make an abrupt change in the procedures.

6. Marathon sessions are frequently used to break down "inhibitions" and encourage participants to express "their true feelings" under the stress of physical fatigue and lack of sleep.

7. Body awareness exercises are often used, such as the group pushing a person down to help him feel hostility, and then helping him up to help him feel love. Or a person may be asked to fall backward, only to be caught by members of the group, to develop trust. All of these techniques involve bodily contact in one form or another.

8. Nude sensitivity training sessions are used with increasing frequency. As one leading exponent of Nude Encounter Workshop Sessions said, "Clothes accentuate feelings of guilt and separateness. Clothing can keep you from touching other people." It is not difficult to see that the time may not be far off when Nude Sensitivity Training sessions are common-place rather than exceptions.

-  Names associated with sensitivity training which you may want to remember -- the list is not offered as being complete in any sense of the word, but it is helpful to know some of the prime leaders of this movement, since they are to be found with increasing frequency in various periodicals throughout the country:

(a) Dr. Carl Rogers, Resident Fellow at the Center for Studies of the Person, LaJolla, CA;
(b) Walter Anderson, Executive Director of the California Institute of Psycho Drama;
(c) Betty Fuller, Director of Consulting Services at Esalen;
(d) Bernard Gunther, Resident Staff Member of Esalen Institute and a pioneer in the use of Touch, Relaxation, Body Awareness, and Non-Verbal Communication;
(e) Frederick S. Perls, Founder of the Gestalt School of Psycho-Therapy;
(f) Richard Rubenstein, called by the Esalen catalog, "the best-known Jewish radical theologian";
(g) Alec Rubin, active in Experimental Church Services and Living Theater;
(h) Virginia Satir, active in Marriage and Family Therapy Research and Work Shops;
(i) William C. Schutz, Director of Esalen's Resident Program and a prime mover of Sensitivity Programs throughout the United States;
(j) Stuart Shapiro, on the staff of the NTL and UCLA Institute of Industrial Relations -- very active in educational circles;
(k) Lewis Yablonsky, President of the California Institute of Psycho-Drama and a pupil of Dr. J.L. Moreno, the creator of Psycho-Drama;
(l) Richard E. Farson, Western Behavioral Sciences Institute;
(m) Dr. William Glasser, originator and promoter of Reality Therapy;
(n) Alan Watts, chief promoter of Zen Buddhism in the United States.

How beneficial is sensitivity training?: Even the NTL Institute Bulletin, Vol. 2, No. 2, for April 1968, admits that "Research evidence on the effectiveness of sensitivity training is rather scarce and often subject to serious methodological problems." It is amazing that so many people should fall for an un-scriptural, un-godly, un-proven program such as this.

The history of sensitivity training in the churches: The National Council of Churches has been deeply involved in sensitivity training programs almost from the very beginning. Since 1956, the NCC has sponsored an annual Spring training laboratory for "pastors and church workers who want to initiate change in congregations or their organizations, and persons who want to initiate community change." Much of the revolutionary spirit which has rapidly spread through the churches in recent years is a direct result of the so-called "small group movement," which is really another way of saying "sensitivity training."

The World Council of Churches is also deeply involved in, and has been a showcase for, sensitivity training. As early as 1954, when the WCC set up the Ecumenical Institute, it was obvious that sensitivity training was going to play an important part in the future of the WCC. This is now clearly seen in the development of many of the newer forms of worship services which have swept the world. At the 1968 World Council Assembly in Uppsala, Sweden, Mr. William McGaw, Director of Communications at the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute, introduced what the press called the "Touch-and-Tell Worship Service," which was nothing more nor less than sensitivity training set within a supposed religious framework. It received world-wide publicity.

The YMCA and YWCA have been heavily involved in sensitivity training programs for several years. Of course, both organizations have long since ceased to be Christian, but they continue to exert a considerable influence upon the children and youth of our nation. The utter contempt of sensitivity training leaders for Christian principles is to be clearly seen in an article by Dr. William C. Schutz, who is an Associate in Residence and Director of Esalen Institute's Resident Program at Big Sur, California. Writing in Redbook magazine for July, 1968, Dr. Schutz stated, "When a Christian organization like the YMCA puts its boys through an encounter group to develop their independence, they may find some of the boys questioning Christian principles. These are not only possibilities, they happen, but they are necessary risks for individual development."

Sensitivity training --"the soft revolution": The Christian Century of 12/31/69, in an article entitled "The Soft Revolution Explored," presents sensitivity training as an alternative to "The Hard Revolution." The author of the article, Dr. Sam Keen, was formerly professor of Philosophy and Christian Faith at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary and is now a post-doctoral Fellow at Western Behavioral Sciences Institute in LaJolla, California. Dr. Keen is one of the chief advocates of sensitivity training in the church, and his article paints a glowing picture of the experiments and workshops which have been and are being conducted at Esalen and other Sensitivity Training Centers. In spite of his obvious enthusiasm for sensitivity training, Dr. Keen, in his article admits, "with both its promise and its ambiguities, the Soft Revolution must be embraced. Although it is too soon to name it, the new spirit is moving in the world. Whether it leads toward greater wholeness or greater folly we do not know." Once can only feel pity for the learned doctor who is willing to follow a path without knowing its destination. His position is typical of every so-called church leader who has rejected the Word of God and is experimenting with the theories of men.

Methodist Youth Leader for Spring 1970 called sensitivity training "tremendously exciting" and "utterly intriguing." The article entitled "What is Sensitivity Training?" reports four statements made by high school young people who attended a sensitivity training session sponsored by a State Council of Churches. The reports were most illuminating and followed the usual sensitivity training techniques of both verbal and non-verbal communications. Participants were asked to lie on the floor and relax to soft music. They were asked to choose partners without speaking. They were asked to write out problems on which they needed help. They rocked certain individuals in the group as an exercise in trust. It was reported that two pastors in the group, who had known each other previously, had to be physically restrained from violence. One young man who had difficulty in expressing hostility, was given a pillow and told to beat on it as a way of getting out his hostile feelings. Participants were told that feelings are neither right nor wrong, good or bad. They just are -- "Because they exist, our feelings are true for us." Such amoral philosophy is of course essential to the whole sensitivity training program, since the absolutes of God's Word are rejected in favor of the changing standards and norms of the group.

-  Many liberal religious leaders have become experts in the field of sensitivity training, and are busily engaged in training others to become change agents in the church and in society. Some of the more familiar names include: 

The late Bishop Pike was one of the most active supporters of this movement before his death. These men, however, are all from the liberal establishment. The most disturbing factor of all is to realize that those in the New Evangelical movement have also been drawn into this same satanic program.

-  Sensitivity training was just another program many pastors kept hearing about until some met it first hand in the National and World Councils of Churches and in the Sex Education battle in their local school districts. But it wasn't until Billy Graham's United States Congress on Evangelism held in Minneapolis in September 1969 that it became evident how this program was being pushed in evangelical churches. Developments since then leads one to conclude that sensitivity training is one of the most powerful, attractive, and deceptive forces which evangelical churches will face in the years ahead.

Forty-six "Church In Action" workshops were presented at this U.S. Congress on Evangelism. At least one-third of these workshops definitely involved sensitivity training techniques. Had this taken place at a meeting of the National or World Councils of Churches it would have been expected. But to find it presented to evangelical churches as "successful ways of reaching men for Christ in the contemporary world" was almost unbelievable. These techniques were to be promoted throughout the nation by a series of National Clergy Conferences. Billy Graham's brother-in-law, Leighton Ford, was one of those vitally interested in promoting this program. If you've wondered about the so-called new forms of worship, coffee houses, jazz communions, psychedelic worship, experimental celebrations, etc., it was learned at Minneapolis that many of these are a direct result of the gut-level, in-depth experiences produced by sensitivity training sessions. And the end is not yet! They are still experimenting:

(a) "Do Your Thing" was the title of one of the "Church in Action" workshop sessions at Minneapolis. The leader was Lyman Coleman, Director of the Halfway House, Newton, Pennsylvania, and a minister in the apostate American Baptist denomination. This workshop was a travesty on evangelism and Christianity. The two hundred or more participants -- pastors, pastor's wives, youth leaders, Sunday School teachers, and laymen -- were skillfully brainwashed step-by-step during the two-hour session, until they ended up in a carnival spirit instead of a challenge to Biblical evangelism. From start to finish, this was an uproarious, irreverent, flippant, worldly mockery of the gospel.

"Do Your Thing" worship's supposed purpose was to show how to reach young people for Christ through a coffee house experience. Participants were seated in groups of fours facing inward. "Role playing" or psycho-drama techniques were used. Brainstorming prayer, gut-level discussion, and sharing experiences were also common. Participants went back to the original groups of four. Slips of paper were distributed to each one on which were written 1 Cor. 13:1-6. Each person was asked to write their own free translation of this Scripture. On the back of the paper, everyone was asked to write down what he considered to be his greatest problem or "hang up" -- and then put down three suggestions for meeting that problem. Coleman stressed the importance of being absolutely open and honest -- a gut-level discussion, he called it. After this, the leader explained "brainstorming prayer." Hands were to be stacked or clasped in a foursome. The leader was to begin, "Lord, I ..." and then pray for his own needs or the needs of others in the group as they had become acquainted with them through the gut-level discussions. Anyone in the group was to feel free to break in at any time, without introducing or saying "Amen" and it was suggested that non-verbal communication was good and proper by squeezing the hand of another to show concern. After several minutes of bedlam as all prayed aloud at once, Coleman said aloud, "Amen" and the prayer session was over.

(b) "Breaking Free" was the title of another "Church in Action" workshop at Minneapolis. The leader of this group, Mr. George Kinnamon, stated that he had developed at least 120 various techniques for engaging people in trying to "break free." The techniques presented at this session involved groupings of two people with both verbal and non-verbal communication stressed. Participants were asked to put on paper some symbol or mark which would convey to their partner what they really felt inside. Then, the partner had the task of trying to understand the meaning of the symbol. There was the exchanging of confidences as to problems (self-criticism), and hand holding during prayer, even though the pairings involved different sexes.

"Listen fully to the other person and feel from his toes, from his vibrations ... what he is really saying ... give yourself fully to the other person," instructed Mr. Kinnamon. "It will astound you -- the depth levels you can get to -- I mean a non-traumatic level, but a very high spiritual therapeutic level where people are," he continued. "I want you to affirm each other. Tell your partner what you think about him positively ... Affirm that good part of the person which you see inside ... Enable them to become the person God wishes them to be, permitting the inner person to come out." (One would have thought he was attending a Christian Science or Science of Mind lecture instead of a Congress on Evangelism workshop.) "Would you close by touching each other," said Mr. Kinnamon -- "by holding each other's hands in an intimate kind of touch which says, 'I love you.' This is a non-verbal way of saying, 'I care about you.' We are afraid to touch each other -- but there is great power in the personal touch. We think of it between a man and a woman as a sexual touch -- the kind of thing we're flirting with each other -- BALONEY! All of us need to be affirmed by the personal touch."

This U.S. Congress on Evangelism became a springboard for introducing Sensitivity Training to pastors across the country. Mr. Kinnamon said that while in Minneapolis, he and a number of others who were interested in these new approaches had met with Leighton Ford, Billy Graham's brother-in-law, to discuss the possibility of holding a series of pastor's conferences across the country during 1970 to introduce "these exciting new techniques to the churches."

*This material has been excerpted and/or adapted from an article in the September-October 1994 issue of Foundation magazine, M.H. Reynolds, Jr., editor. (Fundamental Evangelistic Association, P.O. Box 6278, Los Osos, CA 93412.)

Biblical Discernment Ministries - 3/95