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Getting Through : Dealing

Creating reference list of therapist/counselors

from sarafina - Saturday, January 20, 2007
accessed 890 times

This is just a little project I'm trying to get help with

To all survivors

Iím trying to compile a list of therapist/ grievance counselors that us survivors have seen over the last few years. One of the problems we face is when we want therapy it seems the majority of the time is spent on explaining our unique upbringing and past. It would be much easier to speak to someone who already knows something about our up bringing or at least has already talked to or helped one of us.

What would be nice is if someone wanted to get therapy they could be given a list of names in their area of therapist who are somewhat familiar already whom one of us has already seen and whom you have found to be helpful. Sort of like starting our own reference list.

You donít have to post the information if you arenít comfortable with letting everyone know you have been to one.

What you can do is send me an email with the therapist name, location and contact information. I only want the names of someone you have personally seen and can vouch for. I give you my word your identity (if you choose to email me) will be kept in complete confidence. I will only compile and share the contact info for the therapist. If you like, maybe add a brief description about what they specialize in and how youíd rate them. Eventually weíd like to incorporate this list on to a website or add it to a foundation that may eventually be able to help pay for therapy for those who donít have insurance or funds to do so themselves.

I have spent many hrs calling around to find people therapist/grievance counselors in their areas and quite frankly Iíve been lost, itís like drawing straws. So Iíd appreciate any input or information you have to offer.

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from sarafina
Tuesday, February 13, 2007 - 13:43

Just a reminder before this article gets lost...I'm still working on this list. I know there has to be more then 5 people who have at one seen some sort of therapist/counselor. It would really help a lot of people if you shared thier names, we just need thier names and a phone number and the area they service. Please email me or post the info here. Thank you for those who ahve taken the time already.
(reply to this comment)
From ginger52
Sunday, November 18, 2007, 10:24


Hi Sarafina,

I know this was written in Jan. I was wondering if you were able to come up with any contact info for therapist/counselors etc...? I think this is such a good idea. Its hard enuf to find someone that understands where we are coming from and if we have to explain the entire cult life that's alot to handle. When many of us don't feel comfortable talking to our friends about it we need some sort of outlet. Thanks! (reply to this comment

from .
Monday, February 05, 2007 - 11:11

Treatment Issues

We know very little about the psychological treatment of children who have left cults. No systematic study of childrens' post-cult psychological picture has been conducted. Very little clinical work has been reported on.

The suggestions that follow are based more on reasoning than experience. Essentially we are saying: "we know A about cults; we know B about child developmeni; we would expect, based on our knowledge of A and B, that children leaving cults would exhibit C and require treatment D." Therefore, we urge the reader to be very cautious in applying the following approach to the treatment of children who have left cults. Heed the dictum, "treat each case individually." Adult or young adult cult joiners have a more or less mature personality before they enter the cult..~ noted in the Introduction to this book, they may develop a cult "pseudopersonality" in order to adapt to the intense and conflicting demands of the group. Leaving a cult and recovering from the experience requires, among other things, an "awakening" of the pre-cult personality.

Children born in cults or brought into cults at an early age do not have a mature pre-cult personality to awaken. They are socialized into an environment that denigrates independent critical thinking, maintains members in a state of dependency, and fosters a private insecurity by attacking members' while demanding that they not protest and show a positive front to the world. Thus, the cult environment can create an anxious dependent personality (Martin, 1992). In the case of adults, this is a "pseudopersonality," ergo the rapid and large decline in dependency after cult rehabilitation (Martin, 1992). For children, however, anxious dependency may indeed be fundamental to the child's character.

People who join cults as adults learn a great deal about the mainstream world before they join. They may be indoctrinated into a bizarre belief system with bizarre practices. But if they leave, they can call upon their pre-cult knowledge about the world in their attempts to adjust to mainstream society.

Children raised in cults have little knowledge about the world, especially if their group was isolated. Therefore, when they leave a cult, even if its practices and beliefs were highly deviant, they will take the cult's world view with them because they know no other. Hence, their capacity to think critically and act independently may be deficient, not merely "blocked" as may be the case with ex-cultists who joined as units. Ironically, those children who were most uncooperative in the cult, those who rebelled may be most likely to make an effective transition into mainstream society, because they will not have imbibed the group's world view so completely as others.

The picture painted above suggests that persons raised in a cult will experience culture shock upon leaving (whatever the reason). Moreover, their capacity to negotiate the transition successfully is likely to be hampered because the society they are entering places a premium on critical thinking and independence, both of which were stifled in the cult. If they have also been physically abused or neglected, they may have medical problems and the residuals of psychological trauma. Moreover, the family, the normal primary support system of children, may be unavailable, or even part of the problem picture rather than part of the solution. How does one help such persons?

First of all, medical attention may be needed. A complete physical examination should be performed as a precaution. The medical exam should include a thorough history, especially in regard to abuse and neglect. The examiner should keep in mind that experiences that we would readily identify as abusive may be perceived as the normal course of events to the former cultist, especially if he or she is still a child and has had little exposure to the non-cult world.

Second, a long-term psychotherapeutic relationship will probably be advisable. The magnitude of adjustment confronting such ex-cultists, their limited capacities, and the likely lack of a social support system beyond the immediate family (if that) suggest that much time and psychological support will be needed. Psychotherapy with these persons is not likely to be traditional. They will probably need immense educational effort, not only about how cults work, but about how the mainstream world works as well. Their education will have to include skill building, especially social skills, as well as cognitive learning. Many things that we take for granted may be alien to these former cult members.

Third, these persons will also probably need socialization experiences. Socialization is different from education because it involves much more than systematic learning. It consists of a myriad of experiences through which people learn the unwritten rules and expectations of a culture. It is difficult to "teach" someone about thousands of minor rules such as, to take an extreme example, the inappropriateness of asking a bus driver where one should sit. Individuals accustomed to years of totalism may be inclined to ask just such a question of someone they may perceive to be an authority figure. To a great extent ex-cultists born in cults must learn these types of rules and expectations through guided experience. Therapy can help with the guiding, but it cannot provide the real-life experiences. Furthermore, unlike in traditional therapy, the therapist may not be able to assume that the ex-member client will necessarily encounter experiences from which to learn. Unless the therapist actively encourages the client to seek out experiences that will contribute to socialization, the ex-member client may be likely to fall into a safe routine that limits his or her growth.

The suggestions above apply more to adults or young adults who were born in a cult. Young children will not only need therapeutic, educational, and socialization experiences, but will also need management as well. Someone will have to.. make sure that the various remedial interventions are coordinated and make sense to the child. Parents may be able to do this, although they may also be struggling with post-cult issues. Therefore, the therapist, or some other helper, may be called upon to function as an ombudsman, as the child's advocate.

Investigation of this field has at times been upsetting. The abuses to which children have been subjected can be horrendous. The degree to which cult leaders can escape accountability by hiding behind the First Amendment is troubling. And the lack of concern and action about this problem is shameful. In this chapter we have tried to shed light on this problem so as to make psychotherapistis and other helpers more effective when they encounter children or adults born in cults. Because of the number of adults and young adults who joined cults in the 1980s, the number of such persons will probably increase dramatically during the next five to ten years as people born in cults leave. Our suggestions, however, are very preliminary.

Consequently, if the helping professions are to deal effectively with this problem, we must learn more. As a minimum we need well articulated case studies. But we especially need to research this problem systematically. We need to survey child care workers, physicians, and others. We need to interview and survey former cult members. And we need to examine adults and children born in cults in a systematic, scientific manner. We hope that some of our readers will be inspired to take on some of these important tasks.

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Convicted in daughter's death. Cult Observer, March/April 1986, p. 19. From CHILD Newsletter, Winter 1986.

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End Time couple charged. Cult Observer, 8(1), 1991, p. 6. From AP in Miami Herald, 12/20/90.

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Faith-healing believers sentenced in child's pneumonia death. (1984, September 25). Minneapolis Star and Tribune, 8.

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From Martin Maggi, "Cult member pleads guilty, defends leader," Cleveland, Ohio Plain Dealer, November 6, 1990.

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(reply to this comment)
from SeanSwede
Saturday, February 03, 2007 - 11:42


I`m interessted in becoming a therapist myself exactly for this reason.
(reply to this comment)

From you? a therapist?
Saturday, February 03, 2007, 12:47

Yeaahhh....since you're so rational and understanding. Riiighhhhht.....(reply to this comment
from anovagrrl
Monday, January 22, 2007 - 07:57


Wellspring is a residential treatment and resource center. It's a good place to start looking if you're in the U.S.

Wellspring, P.O. Box 67, Albany, OH, 45710; 740-698-6277;
(reply to this comment)

from moon beam
Monday, January 22, 2007 - 05:15

This is a great idea.

For the UK

A couple that spring to mind;


and Granham Baldwin at Catalyst

Multi-service, educational countercult organization. Offers professional counseling, training and legal help. Registered as an educational charity in Great Britain (1054580).

President: Graham Baldwin

CATALYST, Thames House
65-67 Kingston Road
New Malden
Surrey, KT3 3PB
Tel: 0181 949 7877 Fax: 0181 949 7833
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