They were established by Michel DeSisto (1939 - 2003), who had a self-proclaimed Master's degree in education, although he had to admit that it was not the case, when journalists questioned it.
The program operated with a level system.
- Sheeted: All clothes except underwear has to be taken off. Sometimes a toga was given instead. Survivors tell how the undressing often took place by fellow detainees with higher level ripping the clothes off forcefully
- Sitting meetings: Dorm meetings (group therapy) that lasted 8-10 hours.
- Leashed(also called hand-held): Have to stay in arms distance of the dorm member who "has you". Breaking this would increase severity of punishment to "double hand held". Leashing would often include bathroom activities such as urinating, defecating, or showering.
- 24 Hour Leashed/also called shifting: Watched while sleeping. Doors and windows may be blocked by person(s) watching to prevent running away.
- Group Leashed: Entire Dorm is "leashed" together...arms distance, and 3 meetings per day.
- Farm: The "farm" was a place but it was also used as a verb. There was a girls and boys farm (separate) that someone could be sent to. Sent to the Farm where you have 6 meetings per day and are not allowed contact (not even eye contact) with the rest of the school. Manual labor and meetings all day with other persons on the farm and staff member there. Possessions are taken away. Work suits provided. An entire dorm can also "be farmed". They would also be as separated and ignored from the rest of the population as possible. Manual labor and meetings all day.
- Cornering: Can given given as standing or sitting. A way to obtain a person's turn-in's. No time minimum or maximum.
Based on her experiences as a teacher at the Desisto School, Cornelia Read wrote a novel called The Crazy School using the fictive name Santangelo Academy. (ISBN-10: 044658259X) 
The Stockbridge campus was previous a normal school called the Stockbridge School. They have a reunion group .
In the news
- Info: About the facilities on Wikipedia
- Info: Naked Authors, a blog mentioning the Desisto School
- Info: At Risk, At Riskier: Troubled Teens and the Options, I am Lauren Leonardi blog
- Group: DeSisto School Alumni, MSN group
- Group: Desisto Outcasts in Exile, Myspace
- Group: I survived the DeSisto School, Facebook
- Group: Community of survivors and ex-staff, Multiply
- Group: DeSisto School, facebook
- Forum: Tread about the facility on Fornits Webforum
- Forum: Desisto SChool AKA Cold Spring Academy Inc. WARNING NOTICE - thread on Fornits webforum.
- Forum: Joseph Katz from DeSisto - Thread on fornits Webforum
- Forum: De Sisto's Controversial Leader Dies - Thread on fornits Webforum
- Forum: What have you done?, a thread on the message board of Community Alliance For the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY) mentioning the facility.
- The Stockbridge campus on Google maps
- DeSisto news on Strugglingteens.com (Industry marketing firm)
- DeSisto School closes, official website of New England Psychologist.
- The Crazy School on Amazon
- The Stockbridge School Web
- Into my Own: The Remarkable People and Events That Shaped a Life, by Roger Kahn, ISBN-10: 0312371284