About Us


Founded in 1979*, the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) is a global network of people concerned about psychological manipulation and abuse in cultic or high-demand groups, alternative movements, and other environments. ICSA is tax-exempt, supports civil liberties, and is not affiliated with any religious or commercial organizations. (See links to the left.)

ICSA is unique in how it brings together former group members, families, helping professionals and researchers.

ICSA's mission is to apply research and professional perspectives to:
  • Help former members of cultic and other high-control environments
  • Provide guidance and support to families of people involved in high-control environments
  • Educate the public about psychological manipulation and the harmful effects of high-control environments
  • Encourage, support, and conduct research to advance understanding of psychological manipulation and high-control environments
  • Support helping professionals interested in this area
  • Respond each year to thousands of e-mails and phone requests for assistance and/or information 
  • Organize conferences, local meetings, special events to inform and help former group members, families, helping professionals, researchers, and others 
  • Conduct recovery workshops for former group members and family workshops for those concerned about a loved one 
  • Maintain a website and e-library with more than 25,000 documents 
  • Sustain a volunteer network of hundreds of skilled people contributing each year to events, publications, research, artistic endeavors, study groups, and other efforts 
  • Provide training and consultation to helping professionals interested in cultic studies 
  • Encourage, support, and conduct research 
  • Publish periodicals that are vital to this field, ICSA Today and International Journal of Cultic Studies 
Your contributions also enable ICSA to help those in financial need by offering:
  • Fee discounts or waivers to workshops, conferences, and events 
  • Free memberships 
  • A wealth of e-resources 
  • Access to a network of helping professionals, many of whom offer discounted or pro bono professional services 
ICSA’s main website, www.icsahome.com, includes:
  • more than 1000 articles and book reviews that are organized in collections pertinent to specific categories of inquirers, including but not limited to 
  • study guides for former group members, families, mental health professionals, legal professionals, and other categories of inquirers 
  • Topic collections on custody issues, the new age movement, terrorism, and more than two dozen other subjects 
  • a support page directing undue influence victims and their families to resources aimed at their needs, including a growing network of mental health specialists who receive education and training from ICSA 
  • a links page containing more than 100 annotated links to a large variety of resources 
  • an annotated list of more than 50 books pertinent to cults, psychological manipulation, recovery issues, and undue influence 
  • a YouTube channel with more than 50 videos, most from past ICSA conferences 
  • a magazine, ICSA Today, that provides articles, personal accounts, news summaries from around the world, and art and literary contributions 
  • a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal, International Journal of Cultic Studies, that publishes important research, clinical, and legal reports. 
Members of ICSA gain access to additional Web resources, including:
  • on icsahome.com information pages on more than 225 different groups 
  • a special database-driven website that includes more than 20,000 news articles going back to 1979 
  • access to the content of all past ICSA periodicals from 1979 to the present 
  • access to all past issues of ICSA Member Update, which reports on the cult-related activities of ICSA members 
ICSA’s main event is its annual international conference, which takes place on alternating years in Europe or North America. ICSA's annual conference is the conference to attend if you are interested in cultic studies.

ICSA runs an annual workshop for second-generation adults (SGAs – people born or raised in cultic groups) and a bi-annual assistance-focused conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This latter event provides training for mental health professionals, as well as support and information for families and former group members.

ICSA runs a free monthly meeting in New York City and special events in different cities. 

ICSA also offers opportunities for interested individuals to get involved in assistance, educational, and research activities.

If you have questions or would like to learn more, please write us at mail@icsamail.com.



* ICSA was founded as American Family Foundation.  The name was changed in 2004 for a variety or reasons - see "name change" document.