Meet ICSA Members
From time to time, this column will feature a short profile on an ICSA member.
Eileen Barker, PhD, PhD h.c., OBE, FBA, is Professor Emeritus of Sociology with Special Reference to
the Study of Religion at the London School of Economics, University of London. Her main research interest is minority religions and the social reactions to which they give rise. She has over 350 publications (translated into 27 different languages), which include the award-winning The Making of a Moonie: Brainwashing or Choice? and New Religious Movements: A Practical Introduction. In the late 1980s, with the support of the British Government and mainstream Churches, she founded INFORM, an educational charity, based at LSE, which provides information about minority religions that is as accurate, objective and up-to-date as possible. In 2000, Queen Elizabeth appointed her as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for ‘services to INFORM’, and she received the American Academy of Religion’s Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion. She was the first non-American elected President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. A frequent advisor to governments, other official bodies and law-enforcement agencies throughout the world, she has made numerous appearances on television and radio, and has given guest lectures in over 50 countries. In 2013 Dr. Barker received ICSA's Lifetime Achievement Award.
Erika A. Toren, MS,Ed, completed her Master’s Degree in Educational Administration at the University of Miami in 1994. She has worked for over 25 years in all levels of education and is Director of International Guidance and Outreach at North London Collegiate School Jeju, South Korea. She became interested in cultic studies early on when she volunteered for a committee at UM to fight against cult recruitment on campus. Erika currently serves as an Editor for Spain and Latin America for ICSA.
Friedrich Griess, educated as an electrical engineer, was in 1983 confronted with disastrous
consequences when one of his four children joined a questionable group. Since then he has been engaged in activities of consulting and prevention, being a board member of the Austrian Gesellschaft gegen Sekten - und Kultgefahren (association against the dangers from sects and cults) and from 2005 - 2009 the president of the European umbrella organization FECRIS. In 2013 he received an ICSA Lifetime Achievement Award.
Xavier Leger was a member of the Legion of Christ from 1999 to 2006. Before joining the Legion he studied at the Faculté Libre de Philosophie Comparé in Paris. He is presently finishing his MA at the Catholic University of Lyon in order to become a teacher of philosophy. The subject of his thesis is Regarding the epistemological status of the concepts of mind control, cult and cultic influence. He is also a member of Regain Network (Religious Groups Awareness International Network). In December 2008, together with a number of families and former Legionaries, he created a web page, Prévention l'égard de la Légion du Christ et du Regnum Christi. In 2009 – 2010, he collaborated actively with Catholic newspapers such as La Vie, La Croix, and Famille Chrétienne to cover the sad revelations about the founder of the Legionaries of Christ. In March 2013 a TV report will be released by French channel Canal +. And in September 2013 his biography, co-written with the French journalist Bernard Nicolas, will be published by Flammarion.
Angie "Vennie" Kocsis is a writer, poet, artist and nu-folk singer. She draws her
inspiration not only from the world around her, but from her unique experiences as an abused child growing up in Sam Fife's Move of God cult from 1973-1983, ages 3-14. Vennie is outspoken about her experiences suffering severe physical, sexual and mental abuse including, but not limited to demon possession casting out sessions, beatings, violation of human rights by withholding food and sleep, regimented and harsh daily environments as well as religious brain washing and mind control. Vennie's life in this cult started in Massachusetts and ended in Alaska until her family was ex-communicated from the cult. Transitioning to life outside of the cult was difficult adjustment. Vennie had to learn simple thingslike how to shop in stores, or what current trending music and television shows were, something she and her siblings had never even been exposed to. She struggled with understanding having basic social connections and many other life skills which caused integrating into a secular society quite emotionally painful. Vennie went on to study creative writing, art and music, and through these outlets was able to find deep healing and balance in her adult life. Her passion is centered around supporting creative outlets for survivors of abuse. She believes that having creative outlets and understanding how to utilize them as tools to express emotion can give abuse survivors a tangible way to transfer their pain to a medium. Vennie's Books are available on http://amazon.com and http://venniekocsis.com: Cult Child, view the book trailer at: http://cultchild.com
Dusted Shelves; memoir of a cult child, and Becoming Gratitude.
Alex Gawkins grew up and survived the USSR, the political cult that had spread to many countries and had abused its members for more than 70 years. While the Soviet Union was collapsing in 1991, Alex was pushed to join a small family-based healing cult during his freshman year in the university. After graduating the university, Alex became a refugee and was recruited by the bible-based cult, The New Generation Church in Latvia, which belongs to the Word of Faith movement. He left the group and immigrated to the US with great difficulties. When he stepped down from an airplane in New York in 1999, his pocket had only a few dollars and a diploma with an MS degree in Electrical Engineering from Riga Technical University (Latvia) . Alex took a second chance in America as a computer programmer and got his first job in 2000. Alex works as a senior software engineer at one of the Fortune World's Most Admired Companies. He also volunteers with ICSA as co-chair of the technology committee.
Rosanne Henry, MA, LPC, is a psychotherapist practicing in Littleton, Colorado. For the past twenty years
she has been active in the counter cult movement working closely with the former Cult Awareness Network and ICSA. She presently sits on the board of ICSA and heads the Mental Health Committee. She has facilitated ICSA’s Recovery workshops for twenty years. Rosanne’s private practice specializes in the treatment of cult survivors and their families. She is a former member of Kashi Ranch. In 2010 ICSA awarded her the Margaret L. Singer Award for advancing the understanding of coercive persuasion and undue influence. [Directors, Workshop Facilitators, Mental Health Network]
Rev. Dr. Neil Damgaard is originally from the Washington D.C. area. A graduate of Virginia Tech with a degree in industrial engineering and operations research, he worked for the U.S. Navy under contract as a management engineering consultant. After entering the ministry in 1976 he later graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary with a four-year Master's of Theology degree in historical theology, and has served as Senior Pastor of the Dartmouth Bible Church in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts since 1983. With an interest in students and young adults and long experience with them, Pastor Neil also serves as Protestant Chaplain with the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth (since 2007). He also earned his Doctor of Ministry degree in 2008 from Dallas Theological Seminary. His church experience, both in his own congregation and among a number of other local churches affords him a good perspective in the area of safe churches which espouse a healthy and balanced philosophy of ministry. Neil holds an endless fascination with history, culture, architecture, music, and film. He lives in New Bedford, Massachusetts and has been married to Renée (who loves being a public school high school math teacher) since 1975. Together they have raised two daughters: Jocelyn, a mechanical engineer and recent graduate of the Law School at the University of Connecticut. She is also a wife and mother, living in NYC. Susanna, a graduate of Messiah College and Yale University, is a public health registered nurse in Seattle, Washington.
Cristina Caparesi has a master’s degree in Science of Education and a specialization in Family Mediation. She is an educator and family mediator with an expertise in conflicts related to cultic affiliations. She is president of EXIT ONLUS Cooperative Enterprise, Director of the Helping Centers against Harassment at the Workplace of the Udine Province and of CISL- Pordenone Province; and Director and consultant of the Support Network Against Manipulation and Abuse in Groups project of SOS Abusi Psicologici. She is also a member of the Working Group of the European Commission, First-line Deradicalisation Practitioners; president of ANPE-FVG, the Italian association of Educational Professionals in Friuli Venezia Giulia; Editor of the online journal of SOS Abusi Psicologici, Manipulation and Abuse; an expert for the Criminal Court of Udine in the branch of education, with a specialization in criminology and problems related to cultic affiliations; Italian Co-correspondent for ICSA Today; and a member of the Italian Society of the Psychology of Religion. She works professionally in the areas of undue influence and family mediation, multiculturalism and bilingualism, educational services. She is a co-author, with Mario Di Fiorino and Steven Kent, of Costretti ad amare. Saggi sui Bambini di Dio, the Family (only Italian) [Forced to love- Essays on the Children of God-The Family], and many other articles..
Stephen Bruce Mutch PhD, LLB, (UNSW), is Honorary Fellow in the Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. A retired solicitor and parliamentarian, Stephen served in the New South Wales Legislative Council (State Senate) and then the Australian House of Representatives from 1988-98. His 2004 doctoral thesis is entitled Cults, Religion and Public Policy: A Comparison of Official Responses to Scientology in Australia and the United Kingdom. Dr Mutch has taught Australian politics, public policy and foreign policy. His research interests include cults, sects, new religious movements and secularism, from a comparative policy perspective. He also conducts colloquiums for the Macquarie University Global leadership program on Religion, Secularism and the State. He is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Cultic Studies and is a reviewer for the Polish quarterly, Society and Family.
Gina Catena, MS, NP, CNM, serves on ICSA's Advisory Board. She is Nurse Practitioner and Certified
Nurse Midwife with a large medical group in the Bay Area, California. She has degrees from University of California San Francisco School of Nursing, University of California San Diego School of Medicine, and Dominican University of San Rafael. Gina writes and speaks about issues for those raised in cults, and about women's health. She was raised as one of the first enlightened children in the Transcendental Meditation (TM) Organization where she twice married, divorced and bore three children. Her adult children also now live successful cult-free lives.
Daniel Shaw, LCSW, is the author of Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation, published by Routledge. His affiliations include: Psychoanalyst, Private Practice, New York City and Nyack, NY; Faculty and Clinical Supervisor, The National Institute for the Psychotherapies (NIP), New York, NY; Clinical Supervisor and Faculty, Westchester Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, NY; Adjunct Clinical Supervisory, Smith College of Social Work, MA; former co-chair, Continuing Education Committee, The International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. Shaw spent thirteen years as a staff member in Siddha Yoga (SYDA Foundation. There he wore many hats, including: manager of the residential Manhattan facility, educator, spokesperson, public relations coordinator, community organizer, and writer/director of public programs. Shaw exited Siddha Yoga in 1994, published an Open Letter about Siddha Yoga on the internet in 1995, and helped create the Leaving Siddha Yoga website, one of the first internet websites for ex cult members. Shaw is the author of Traumatic Abuse in Cults: A Psychoanalytic Perspective, published in the Cultic Studies Journal, numerous psychoanalytic papers, and the editor of a special issue on the traumatizing narcissist in ICSA's International Journal of Cultic Studies.. Mr. Shaw leads the monthly New York area ICSA group with Chris Carlson. This group offers support, education and interaction for all those who have been harmed by, or want to learn about high demand groups. [NY Local Meeting, NY Committee]
Lorna Goldberg, LCSW, PsyA, Board member and past president of ICSA, is a psychoanalyst in private practice and Dean of Faculty at the Institute of Psychoanalytic Studies. In 1976, she and her husband, William Goldberg, began facilitating a support group for former cult members that continues to meet on a monthly basis in their home in Englewood, New Jersey. In1989, Lorna and Bill received the Hall of Fame Award from the authentic Cult Awareness Network and, in 1999; they received the Leo J. Ryan Award from the Leo J. Ryan Foundation. In 2009, she received the Margaret T. Singer Award from ICSA. Lorna joined ICSA’s Board of Directors in November 2003. Along with Rosanne Henry, she co-chaired ICSA’s Mental Health Committee until her term as President of ICSA from 2008 to 2012. Lorna has published numerous articles about her therapeutic work with former cult members in professional journals, most recently: Goldberg, L. (2012). Influence of a Charismatic Antisocial Cult Leader: Psychotherapy With an Ex-Cultist Prosecuted for Criminal Behavior. International Journal of Cultic Studies, Vol. 2, 15-24. Goldberg, L. (2011). Diana, Leaving the Cult: Play Therapy in Childhood and Talk Therapy in Adolescence. International Journal of Cultic Studies, (Vol.2), 33-43. She also wrote a chapter on guidelines for therapists in the book, Recovery from Cults, edited by Michael Langone. Lorna has co-written with Bill Goldberg, a chapter on psychotherapy with targeted parents in the book, Working with Alienated Children and Families (2012), edited by Amy J.L. Baker & S. Richard Sauber. [Directors; Workshop Facilitators]
Willy Fautré is Director of Human Rights Without Frontiers International (Brussels, Belgium). He was a Chargé de Mission at the Cabinet of the Ministry of Education (Belgium). He is a frequent author and lecturer on human rights, religious freedom and related issues. Most recently he authored: "Religious Education in Belgium," in Handbook on Religious Education (pp 54-61, eds Derek H. Davis and Elena Miroshnikova ,The Routledge International, 2013); "The Sect Issue in France and in Belgium," in Law and Religion: National, International and Comparative Perspectives (eds. W. Cole Durham and Brett G. Scharffs ,Wolters Kluwer: Aspen Publishers, 2010); "On Religious Liberty in a Democratic Society - Aspect of Law, Religion and Philosophy," in Constitutional Theory and Reality (published by Gerhard Besier and Hubert Seiwert, Technical University Dresden, Germany, 407 p., 2009); "Models of State-Church Relationships in the Modern World" (in Russian language, published by Tula State Pedagogical University on 24 February 2009, contributions pp 106-136); "Legal Regulations of Religious Communities in EU Member States: A Human Rights Perspective" (pp 67-74, in Mitna Sprava Naukovo-Analytishnii Journal, Academy of Law, Odessa, Ukraine, 2009).
Carol Giambalvo is a former cult member who has retired as a Thought Reform Consultant. She is a
cofounder of reFOCUS, a national support network for former cult members. She is on ICSA’s Board of Directors, Director of ICSA’s Recovery Programs, and is responsible for its Project Outreach. Author of Exit Counseling: A Family Intervention, co-editor of The Boston Movement: Critical Perspectives on the International Churches of Christ, and co-author of Ethical Standards for Thought Reform Consultants, and co-author (with Rosanne Henry, MA, LPC) of The Colorado Model in ICSA Today, 1(1), 2010. Ms. Giambalvo has written and lectured extensively on cult-related topics. In 2008 and 2010 (shared with the other Colorado workshop facilitators) Ms. Giambalvo received ICSA's Margaret T. Singer Award. [Directors; Workshop Facilitators]
Patrick J. Knapp, M.A. Philosophy of Religion, Denver Seminary. Pat’s initial interest in cult recovery stems from his own involvement in a harmful bible-based group (1970-1984). His recovery resulted from individual and marriage counseling, in addition to several years of work in and facilitating support groups for ex-members and their loved ones. His M.A. thesis was titled: “The Place of Mind-Control in the Cult Recovery Process.” Over the past 25+ years he has formally mentoring Denver Seminary students for spiritual formation. Pat is the founder of and co-directs Becoming Free (www.BecomingFree.org). This is an organization committed to facilitating compassionate, safe support/recovery groups for those who have suffered previous involvement in abusive/harmful religious or spiritual environments. He and his spouse (Heidi) co-facilitate these 12 week support groups. He has done doctoral studies in Marriage and Family Counseling (Professional Track), at Gordon-Conwell Seminary in Charlotte, NC. He has also recently completed multiple counseling internships at addictions treatment centers and at a local counseling center. Currently he is pursuing a PhD in Pastoral Psychology, at Graduate Theological Foundation (GTF) and is involved in several writing projects examining spiritual abuse and recovery
Nancy Miquelon , LPCC, is a Clinical Mental Health Counselor specializing in trauma recovery in adults and children. She currently practices in Dulce, New Mexico, home of the Jicarilla Apache Nation, and has been in practice since 1993. Nancy is a co-founder, and serves on the board, of reFOCUS, a cult survivor support network. She is a regular facilitator at ICSA's Recovery Workshop. In 2010 Nancy received ICSA's Margaret T. Singer award. Nancy was a member of the Emissaries of Divine Light. [Workshop Facilitators]
Andrea Moore-Emmett, MA is the author of God's Brothel, The Extortion of Sex For
Salvation in Contemporary Mormon and Christian Fundamentalist Polygamy and the Stories of 18 Women Who Escaped. She is the author of several articles covering polygamy for various national magazines and was the researcher for the A & E documentary, Inside Polygamy, which also aired on the BBC. As a journalist, she has been the recipient of five awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Utah Headliners Chapter, including the Don Baker Investigative Journalism Award. She was also awarded a Women in Communications Leading Changes Award and the Leadership Council on Abuse and Interpersonal Violence and the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma 2008 Award for Distinguished Service and Excellence in Journalism. Moore-Emmett served as Utah NOW President and on a Salt Lake City Mayor's commission. She has an MA in psychology.
Stephen Parsons is a retired Anglican priest living near Carlisle, England. His interest in cultic and high
demand religious groups goes back to the 80s when he researched material for a book on Christian healing. He realised that among practitioners of spiritual healing there were some whose healing practice was abusive and exploited the vulnerability of the sick. This led eventually to a study of abusive Christianity, Ungodly Fear, which collected and interpreted stories of individuals who had joined certain fundamentalist Christian groups in the UK but suffered in the encounter. Since the book appeared in 2000, and especially since retirement in 2010, he has been reading widely in the areas of social psychology and psychoanalytical theory to understand this phenomenon of abuse within certain churches. He runs a blog, www.survivingchurch.org which attempts to set out the fruits of this study and reflection. He has the hope that it will be of use to those coming to terms with an encounter with a religious institution or church that exploits and abuses.
Madeleine L Tobias, MS RN CS, has been a psychotherapist working with ex-members since 1987. She contributed a chapter to Recovery From Cults and has spoken widely about cults for many years. She co-authored (with Janja Lalich) Captive Hearts/Captive Minds and then Take Back Your Life. She worked as a Clinical coordinator and Military Sexual Trauma Specialist for the Veterans Administrations Vet Center in White River Junction, VT from 1994 - 2012. As an Approved Consultant for the EMDR International Association she provided EMDR (Eye Motion Desensitization and Reprocessing) for both traumatized veterans as well as clients in her private practice. During her work at the VA, she trained and utilized Cognitive Processing Therapy with both veterans and ex-members of cults. In September 2001, she participated in a team supporting and debriefing Veterans Administration witnesses of 9/11 in NYC and NJ. Mady is now semi-retired in Virginia. She is currently working on adapting the Veterans Administrations’ CPT manual for the treatment of ex-members of cults, and preparing a chapter on CPT for an upcoming book for ICSA. She provides consultation for EMDR and CPT for trauma survivors. She is a Hospice volunteer and serves on the Advisory Board of the Loudoun Medical Reserve Corp.
Lois Svoboda, M.D., L.M.F.T., is a former family medicine physician who has been trained in Marriage &
Family Therapy and worked as a medical family therapist for 23 years in Wichita Kansas. Since retiring to Fremont, Nebraska in 2004, she opened a counseling practice and is working with people who have exited cults. She has planned and been responsible for a full day workshop for former cult members in Omaha, Nebraska., as well as a one day symposium for medical, law enforcement, clergy, mental health professionals, and the public on Cults and Gangs in Omaha in 2007. She also worked at Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center in Ohio during Dr. Paul Martin's final illness, together with Patricia Cartledge. Dr. Svoboda is ICSA Today’s Family Editor.
Doni Whitsett, PhD, LCSW, is a Clinical Professor of Social Work at the University of Southern California School of Social Work. Dr. Whitsett teaches various courses in practice, behavior, and mental health. She has been working with cult-involved clients and their families for 20 years and gives lectures to students and professionals in this area. She has presented at national and international conferences in Madrid, Poland, Canada, and in Australia, where she helped organize two conferences in Brisbane. Her talks have included The Psychobiology of Trauma and Child Maltreatment (2005, Madrid) and Why Cults Are Harmful: A Neurobiological View of Interpersonal Trauma (2012, Montreal). Her publications include The Psychobiology of Trauma and Child Maltreatment (Cultic Studies Review, Vol. 5, No. 3, 2006), A Self Psychological Approach to the Cult Phenomenon (Journal of Social Work, 1992), and Cults and Families (Families in Society, Vol. 84, No. 4, 2003), which she coauthored with Dr. Stephen Kent.
Arthur A. Dole, PhD, ABPP, Professor Emeritus, Psychology in Education Division, University of
Pennsylvania. Dr. Dole is a member of the ICSA Board of Directors and the Editorial Advisory Board of Cultic Studies Review. He has published studies and presented papers at professional meetings about the Unification Church and other abusive groups. He recently contributed a chapter on terrorists and cultists to C. E. Stout's four-volume, The Psychology of Terrorism. In 2010 ICSA awarded Dr. Dole the Herbert L. Rosedale Award in recognition of leadership in the effort to preserve and protect individual freedom.
Håkan Järvå, Former Scientologist and now a licensed psychologist in
Sweden. Editor and co-author of the book Sektsjuka (Cult Illness) and a former lecturer for the psychology department at the University of Gothenburg on the subject of manipulation, influence, and cult illness. He offers psychotherapy to former members of cults and is also employed as a consultant by the help organization for former cult members in Sweden, Hjälpkällan, to train their nationwide network of volunteer workers. He is currently involved in a project aimed at high schools in Sweden together with a professional magician with the purpose of educating and vaccinating teenagers against manipulation.
Heather Svoboda, MA LP, is a psychologist licensed and practicing in Minnesota. She was trained in both
psychology and marriage and family therapy, with specialties in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, early childhood mental health, and child centered, experiential play therapy. She was involved in a small personality cult in the 1980s, and after her exit counseling became active in the local and national cult awareness and recovery network. She was president of Free Minds the Minnesota family and former member support group; worked at Unbound (cult recovery house) while in college and afterwards, assisted in organizing and locally co-chairing the 1992 National Cult Awareness conference, and has made many public presentations to classrooms, the media, and at conferences about her own experiences and common needs of former members.
Piotr T. Nowakowski, born in 1974, Ph.D. Hab. in social sciences, Associate Professor at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin – Off-Campus Faculty of Law and Social Sciences in Stalowa Wola (Poland). Areas of academic activity: social prevention, social work, pedagogy of social rehabilitation, public security, pedagogy of mass media, philosophy of education; author of headings in the Universal Encyclopedia of Philosophy (published by: Polskie Towarzystwo Tomasza z Akwinu). Books written: Sekty: co kazdy powinien wiedziec (Cults: what one should know, 1999), Sekty: oblicza werbunku (Cults: faces of recruitment, 2001), Fast food dla mózgu, czyli telewizja i okolice (Fast food for mind, i.e., television and surroundings, 2002), Modele czlowieka propagowane w wybranych czasopismach mlodziezowych: analiza antropologiczno-etyczna (Models of man propagated in selected youth magazines: the anthropological and ethical analysis, 2004). Books edited: The phenomenon of cults from a scientific perspective (2007), Sekty jako problem wspólczesnosci (Cults as a problem of contemporary reality, 2008), Higher education in Nigeria: selected aspects (2010), Wokól pigulki gwaltu (Talking about date rape drugs, 2011). Dr. Nowakowski is ICSA Today’s News Correspondent for Eastern Europe. [Education Network]
Jill Mytton, is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist. Currently, she is a visiting Lecturer in the School of
Psychology, London Metropolitan University and at the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, London, where she is also a research supervisor for doctoral students. She is currently studying for a doctorate at the Metanoia Institute affiliated to Middlesex University. She is listed on the British Psychological Society media list for Cults and Thought Reform and has been involved in several TV and Radio broadcasts. Her primary research interest is the mental health of Second Generation Adults, i.e., those born or raised in cultic groups. She has presented at several conferences, including: INFORM London, April 2008, the annual Division of Counselling Psychology conferences in Dublin, 2008 and Leicester 2012, the ICSA Annual Conferences in Geneva 2009 and Montreal 2012. She was born and raised in the Exclusive Brethren, leaving at the age of 16, when her parents decided to leave. Apart from a small private practice, she also runs an email support group for former Exclusive Brethren and has become a point of contact for leavers of several groups.
Sjoukje Drenth-Bruintjes is a counselor/coach, exit counselor, teacher, speaker and sports consultant in the Netherlands. In 1982 she completed her study at the Academy for Physical Education in Groningen. After many years of teaching-experience she began to study health psychology in 1999 in Groningen. Finally she decided to choose counseling as being the most suitable study-direction. In 2005 she became a registered counselor. Sjoukje has her own private healthcare-praxis, called: Creative Counseling, in the province of Groningen in the Netherlands, in which she handles the following disciplines: multidisciplinary counseling, exit counseling, sports consultancy, RRT (English: RST=Rest and Space therapy), and personal/mental coaching. She became a well-known specialist in the Netherlands, especially on exit counseling, after a few interviews on Dutch National TV about her successful work as an exit counselor and after the publication of two of her biographical poetry books: Een knuffel voor jou (English: A hug for you) and Waves, in which Sjoukje describes the emotional impact of coercive persuasion on a friendship in a poetic way. Besides Sjoukje’s work as a therapist, teacher, and writer, she also gives workshops and readings for students at universities, healthcare-takers, victims of coercive persuasion, and parents/family/friends of these kind of victims.
Arthur Mary, PhD, lives in France where he works as a clinical psychologist in private practice. He holds
degrees in psychology, philosophy, cultural anthropology, and medical hypnosis and has a Master's degree in clinical and intercultural psychopathology. He wrote a PhD thesis about cults from a psychoanalytical (Lacanian) perspective and some academic articles about cult influence, the notion of mind manipulation, and its roots within a cultural context. He is a researcher associated with the LIRCES (Interdisciplinary Laboratory Narratives Cultures and Societies, University of Nizza-Sophia Antipolis) and for two years has been a temporary lecturer and research assistant at LCPI (Laboratory for Psychopathologic and intercultural Clinical Approaches, University of Toulouse-Le Mirail) where he works now as a lecturer. He is a member of ADFI (Association for the Defense of Families and Individuals). His interest in cults dates back to when he was a trainee in the department of victimology of the Hospital of Reunion Island, his homeland. In 2006, Juliano Verbard's small cult became a societal phenomenon on the island, and former followers were sent to this hospital department. Thereafter, Arthur conducted various academic researches and his PhD paper with former cult members and actual followers of controversial groups, both small and large groups, religious as well as political groups. Since October 2014, his office has hosted a monthly group that is open to former followers.
Marcia R. Rudin received a joint MA Degree in Religion from Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary, specializing in Philosophy of Religion. She studied for a Ph.D. in Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. She taught at William Paterson College in New Jersey.
Ms. Rudin is co-author with Rabbis A. James Rudin and Hirshel Jaffe of Why Me? Why Anyone?, published by St. Martin’s Press in 1986 and reissued by Jason Aronson, Inc. in 1994, and with Rabbi Rudin of Prison or Paradise? The New Religious Cults, published by Fortress Press in 1980. She edited and contributed to the anthology Cults on Campus: Continuing Challenge, published by ICSA’s International Cult Education Program in 1991 and revised in 1996.
She has published articles and book reviews about destructive cults, women rabbis, black Jews, genetic engineering, Nazi war criminals, Holocaust refugees, and Jewish feminism in a large variety of publications.
In her work with ICSA between 1987 and 1997, she directed the International Cult Education Program, wrote and was Associate Producer of the videotape "Cults: Saying No Under Pressure," featuring Charleton Heston. She was also the writer and producer of the videotape, "After the Cult: Recovering Together," and edited and produced the videotape "Blessed Child: An Interview with Donna Collins". She authored the International Cult Education Program lesson plan for middle and high school students,Too Good to be True: Resisting Cults and Psychological Manipulation and edited the International Cult Education Program newsletter Young People and Cults.
She presently writes novels, plays, and screenplays, and was a resident in screenwriting at the MacDowell Colony of the Arts in 2003. Six of her plays have received eleven productions in Manhattan, New Jersey, Santa Cruz and San Diego, California, and Canton, Michigan; several have received staged readings. Her ten-minute play, Paul Newman Hops the Amtrak Auto-Train was a winner in 2006 of the ETC play-writing contests of Naples (FL) Players at Sugden Community Theatre and was read over radio station WGCU-FM in Fort Myers.
Álvaro Rodríguez-Carballeira, PhD, is Full Professor of Social and Legal Psychology at the University of Barcelona (Spain). From 1999 to 2008 he had been Head of the Social Psychology Department at this university. He has been Director of the “Invictus Research” group (http://www.ub.edu/grupvp) since 2003 and is the coordinator of the PhD Program in Social and Organizational Psychology at University of Barcelona. He is a member of the board of the "Spanish Scientific Society of Social Psychology." His research interests include the psychology of influence, harassment and violence, especially in group settings (cults), workplace, intimate partner, and terrorism. He has been involved in many projects and published many articles in these areas. During the 1980s, before and after a 1985 internship at ICSA, he worked with families and victims affected by cult membership. Dr. Rodriguez-Carballeira was awarded ICSA’s 2011 Margaret Singer Award "for advancing the understanding of coercive persuasion and undue influence".
Lois Kendall, PhD. Dr. Kendall's doctoral research examined the psychological effects of former sect
membership, she looked at both first and second generation former members of sects as well as current and former members of non-sect like groups. Her research included a series of quantitative and qualitative studies. Since completing her PhD, Dr Kendall has worked on a book about the experiences of those raised in sects and recovery from that experience. She was born and raised in an English sect, which she left when she was 17.
Robert Örell is director at Exit Sweden (headed by Fryshuset). He has more than twelve years of experience on work with disengagement from political extremism and criminal gangs. Robert is involved in national and international networks focused on knowledge sharing and best practice within the field of radicalization, disengagement, and intervention. He has arranged several international conferences and workshops. He is an adviser on the work of setting up Exit organizations in a number of countries and has experience from several EU projects on de-radicalization and interventions. Since 2012 Robert has been a member of the steering committee of the European Commission’s RAN (Radicalization Awareness Network) where he co-chairs the working group on De-radicalisation. Robert has studied social pedagogy and has some psychotherapy training.
Cynthia Mullen Kunsman (ASN, BSN, Gwynedd Mercy College; MMin, Chesapeake Bible College and Seminary; ND, Clayton College) is a nurse with a wide clinical teaching background who now serves as a consultant in forensic medicine and toxicology. Though she chose to decline their practice, her credentials in both naturopathy and hypnotherapy have enriched her understanding of the phenomenon of cultic influence. She and her husband sought exit counseling after four years in a Shepherding Discipleship group which set her on a journey of confronting her upbringing in the Word of Faith movement. She hosts UnderMuchGrace.com and blogs atSpiritualSoundingBoard.com, articulating information about spiritual abuse to Evangelicals with a specific focus on gender and high demand homeschooling. She has contributed to Christian apologetics journals and conferences, aided other authors in research, and has contributed to books including Hillary McFarland’s Quivering Daughters. She also serves with the Freedom for Christian Women Coalition and the Spiritual Abuse Recovery Blog Network. She resides in South Florida with her husband, Gary W. Kunsman, PhD, F-ABFT.
Jose Fernández has a Degree in Psychology for the University of Barcelona and is credited as
a Psychologist and Psychotherapist by the EFPA (European Federation of Psychologists Associations). He has worked as such in Private practice in Barcelona for the last 12 years at Pehuén Institute of Psychology (www.institutpehuen.com) with a constructivist and systemic approach, subjects on which he has postgraduate studies, as well as in hypnosis. He coursed these postgraduate studies, which were directed by PhD. Guillem Feixas, at the University of Barcelona. He is involved with Hypnosis both as a therapeutic tool and as a field of research, having published on the matter in La Revista de Psicoterapia international journal, as well as in the International Journal of Cultic Studies. He is interested on Psychological Manipulation and abuse at schools (Bullying), Workplace (mobbing), and home (psychological maltreatment). He is also interested in the implementation of codes of good associational and ethical practices in all kind of organizations and associations in Spain. He is been a founding member of the Catalonian College of Psychologists task force on Hypnosis and is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Experimental and Applied Hypnosis, (AAHEA) of which he is its current secretary. He was a psychologist and exit counselor at AIS (Barcelona) for two years. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nori Muster, MS,is the author of Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life Behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna
Movement (University of Illinois Press, 1997), Cult Survivors Handbook: Seven Paths to an Authentic Life (2000), and Child of the Cult (2010). She was an ISKCON member from 1978 – 1988, then earned her master's degree at Western Oregon University in 1992 doing art therapy with juvenile delinquents. She is currently an adjunct professor at Mesa Community College, in Mesa, Arizona.
J. Paul Lennon, STL, MA, Child and Family Therapist, Board Member,Regain Network (Religious GroupsAwareness International Network). Mr. Lennon was a Legionary of Christ brother from 1961-69 and an LC priest from 1969-84. He served as a Diocesan priest from 1985-1989 and received an MA in Counseling from the Catholic University of America in 1989. He was a Community Development Specialist from 1990-1995 and a home-based therapist to Hispanic Families from 1995-1998. He was the co-founder of Network 1992. From 1999 to January 2014 he worked as a Child and Family Therapist in Arlington, VA. In 2008 he published a memoir, Our Father who art in bed, A Naive and Sentimental Dubliner in the Legion of Christ. In early 2010 he published Fr. Marcial Maciel, Pedophile, Psychopath and Legion of Christ Founder. He received his Virginia LPC in September 2010. He is presently considering settling in Central America to continue writing, supporting former Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi members, practicing his therapy profession, and embracing new opportunities for personal growth.
Marita La Palm, M.A., is a former third degree (3GF) lay consecrated woman of Regnum Christi, a
Catholic movement affiliated with the Legionaries of Christ. She was recruited as young as eight years old, eventually attending Regnum Christi’s boarding school for girls discerning consecrated life for two years in high school. She experienced two years as a consecrated member in Monterrey, Mexico. Later, she completed her Master’s in Creative Writing at Eastern Michigan University where she was awarded “Distinguished Graduate Student in Creative Writing” for her thesis, a novella on a young girl’s physical and psychological escape from a cult. Currently, she teaches College Writing with a human rights theme at American University.
Russell H. Bradshaw, EdD [A.B. (Wesleyan University), EdM, EdD (Harvard University), Cand. Polit. (University of Oslo)] is Associate Professor at Lehman College, City University of New York. He has taught psychological and historical foundations of education and directed the MA program in Teaching Social Studies: 7-12. Dr. Bradshaw’s master’s and doctoral dissertations described alternative living and child care arrangements in Sweden (‘Samhem’ and ‘Kollektivhus’). During his undergraduate studies he received a stipendium to live in Samoa and wrote his Honors Thesis on religion’s effect on cultural stability and change in Western Samoan villages. Dr. Bradshaw’s continuing interest in alternative living and childcare solutions led him to an intensive study of a Hindu-based religious cult in New York City. Dr. Bradshaw has received fellowships and grants from Wesleyan, Harvard, and Uppsala (Sweden) Universities and from the City University of New York.
Mary Jo Cysewski, MA, LMFT, LPCC, is a marriage and family therapist and professional clinical
counselor in private practice in Los Angeles, where she provides individual, family therapy and facilitates monthly support groups. Ms. Cysewski specializes in cult-related cases for former cult members and for families who have a loved one who is involved in a cult. Additionally, she provides counseling/coaching and practical tools for planning and pursuing career and education. Professional consultation and mediation are also available.
Ashley Allen, LSW, completed her Master’s Degree in Social Work at Monmouth University. She has presented on cults, with a particular focus on SGA’s at various mental health agencies in New Jersey and at Rutgers University and Monmouth University. Ashley is currently serving on ICSA’s NY Education Initiative.
Douglas Agustin was born in 1943 in Minnesota and continues to reside there. A retired account
manager, he engages in part time cult awareness consulting. His formal education includes some college but no degree. He enjoys fishing, hunting, dog training, gardening, and his family when he is not sharing cult awareness information. Doug became involved in the cult awareness movement after a family member joined a known cult. After more than 30 years in the cult awareness field, he considers himself to be an RKP - -Reasonably Knowledgeable Person - if not an officially accredited expert. He has been a member of Free Minds of Minnesota since 1983 and served as the organization’s president for eight of those years. He chaired the committee that organized the National CAN/AFF Conference held in Minnesota in 1993. He has worked to educate and inform about 500 families/individuals over the past 28 years. He has given dozens of talks to church, civic, college/university, and government groups. He currently works with a number of cult affected families/individuals in the US and England, primarily on line.
Eva Mackey Meyrat, MD, is a second generation adult whose father was a tenured professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. Her mother was a devotee of an eastern cult that practiced a branch of Hinduism called Advaita Vedanta, a non-dualistic philosophy that teaches that the self is one with the ultimate truth or reality. Half of Eva’s childhood was spent in an ashram in India where she and the other children were unsupervised much of the day. Despite the upheavals and instability that characterized her childhood, Eva managed to get out of the cult at the age of 16 and eventually earned her MD from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Dr. Meyrat has a busy Family Practice and she lives near Dallas with her three small children.
April Galamin was born in Chicago, Illinois. Raised in a Catholic home, she is the 3rd eldest of 11 children.
Being discontented with the religion of her youth, she found herself searching for something better. In college she began listening to audio tapes of a preacher that a friend recommended. Upon graduating college she was still listening to the sermon tapes frequently and was sucked into the group - an IFB (Independent Fundamentalist Baptist) with a Calvinist bent and King James version Bible proponent. Over time she and her family were persuaded to uproot their lives to move closer to the cult. This relocation was the beginning of the end as through time and experience she realized what was being taught was not the reality of life in the group.
During her years living in Michigan, she home schooled her children and was an at-home mom. She became burned out and over time put her kids into a Lutheran school, where she was very active, volunteering and teaching art to the children. During this time she and her husband began to seriously question the dogma of the group they had joined.
Involved with the group for 19 years, she and her family walked away from it in 2007. These were very dark days for her as people she thought were her true friends shunned her and her family. In addition she was excommunicated/church disciplined as her former pastor devoted a whole sermon to discrediting her and her husband’s character for no longer wanting to remain members in that “church.” It took time, but in 2010 she and her family then uprooted yet again to move back to their home state of Illinois to rebuild their lives.
During her years in the group she tried to remain creative. This included volunteering at her children’s school and having a small art exhibit at the Sterling Heights, Michigan City Hall. In addition she was involved with the ACLU’s Lady Liberty Project, Annual Dinner & Silent Auction in Dearborn, Michigan, where she donated a watercolor painting for the Silent Auction.
April received her Bachelor of Arts degree before joining the group. She has been painting with watercolors for over 3 decades and has been published internationally. She has created a comic strip, My Life of Hell in the Kingdom, some of which were shown at the 2012 Phoenix Project at the ICSA Conference in Montreal. In addition some were published in the ICSA Today magazine, volume 3, issues 2 and 3 – 2012. April not only paints, she often works with digital art and photography. Within the last year she has worked to become an Adobe Certified Associate for Photoshop and is an Adobe Certified Expert for Illustrator. She is getting her skills back to par to get employment in the arts /graphic arts and design industry. Currently, she is a member of the Illinois Watercolor Society, The Park Ridge Art League, and International Cultic Studies Association. She has volunteered with the Ethical Humanist Society and their soup kitchens among other volunteer projects. Mostly, April is busy trying to make up for lost time, and is enjoying life free from the constraints of abusive religion.
Mary Moore is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker currently practicing in Maryland. She participated in Divine Light Mission, later renamed Elan Vital and The Prem Rawat Foundation, from 1973 to 2001, having been recruited in her first year of college. While in the group, she pursued a career in accounting and software, helping to found and grow a company which went from 3 to 500 employees from 1981 to 1998. She worked as a Senior System Consultant, Software Designer, and VP of Marketing. The organization’s top management originated within the group, but is no longer affiliated, having been sold by the owners a few years ago. She realized she had been in a cult in 2004 after talking with a former member, reading Margaret Singer’s Cults in our Midst, and visiting the ex-member website. She attended an ICSA former member workshop that summer, then returned to college, obtaining Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Social Work. She has attended three ICSA conferences, as a former member and mental health practitioner. She has developed a practice that focuses on couples’ therapy, trauma work using EMDR, play and sand tray therapy. She has begun co-facilitating a cult recovery support group in the Washington DC area.
Recipient of 2014 Margaret T. Singer Award: "for advancing the understanding of coercive persuasion, undue influence, and psychological manipulation."
Ann Stamler, MA, MPhil, graduated from Brooklyn College summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1965, and earned graduate degrees in Latin from Columbia University. From birth until age 41, she was in the Aesthetic Realism movement, which her parents, both artists, had joined before she was born. In 1971, along with her parents, Ann was one of the first people the founder designated as teachers of Aesthetic Realism. During the years before and after the founder’s death she began to recognize cultic behavior in her fellow Aesthetic Realists, and chose to walk away from it in 1985. In 1987, she married Joseph Stamler, whom she had first met in Aesthetic Realism. For 22 years she was a senior executive of a nonprofit agency in New York that worked with the labor movements in the U.S. and Israel. She helped found a pluralistic Jewish High School in CT, and was elected three times to the legislative body of her town. Ann delivered a paper about her experience at a Cult Information Service conference in New Jersey in 2002. In 2006, she received a notice of ICSA’s first annual workshop for Second Generation Adults, people born or raised in cultic movements. She attended the workshop as a participant from 2006 to 2011, and was invited to become a co-facilitator in 2012. every annual meetings of the SGA workshop, and in 2012 became a co-facilitator. She is ICSA Today’s Associate Editor. In 2014 she received ICSA's Margaret T. Singer Award.
Receipients of 2014 ICSA Herbert L. Rosedale Award: "in recognition of leadership in the effort to preserve and protect individual freedom, help victims, or inform society about ethical and legal dimensions of the cult phenomenon."
Judy Pardon, M.Ed., has been a teacher and a counselor. Since 1992 she has been Associate Director of the New England Institute of Religious Research and Meadowhaven, where she has worked with former cult members, including some who have experienced profound trauma. She has also spoken widely on the subject and conducted training programs for human service personnel.
Robert Pardon, M.Div., Th.M., is the Executive Director of the New England Institute of Religious Research and MeadowHaven. During the past five years he has specialized in Bible-based communal groups. Much of his work involves counseling, support groups, working with those born and/or raised in groups, and helping former members rebuild their lives. To facilitate the recovery process MeadowHaven, a long term rehabilitation facility was opened in 2002. It can accommodate individuals or families who require long term (up to a year) care to recover from trauma and cult abuse.
Leona Furnari, MSW, LCSW, is a psychotherapist in Boulder, CO, specializing in recovery from trauma,
including recovery from abusive groups and relationships. Ms. Furnari is a former member of an Eastern/New Age group, and it was that experience that led to her commitment to help others recover from abusive groups. She has been a regular facilitator/presenter at ICSA's former-member workshops and cult-education conferences since 1998. She has worked in child protection, community mental health, and as a school social worker. She is an EMDR International Association certified therapist and consultant. In 2010 ICSA awarded her the Margaret L. Singer Award for advancing the understanding of coercive persuasion and undue influence.
Diana Pletts, MA, since 2006 has directed and coordinated The Phoenix Project, which provides a time, space, and place for cult survivors to present their cult and recovery related artwork. Diana is working, herself, to regain and work out her own artistic vision, which was abandoned when she became a member of the Path, a charismatic End-Times group. Diana went to Wellspring for post-cult counseling help in 1999. She then returned to college to complete her cult interrupted undergraduate degree and a master's in communication, writing a thesis project for a cult education information campaign. Diana has spoken on cults at colleges and churches, on the radio, and at Chautauqua Institution in New York State. She also edits the Arts and Literary section of ICSA Today. She has worked as a writer and adjunct college professor. Diana has four adult children and enjoys photography, flowers, and her family and friends.
Steve K. D. Eichel, PhD, ABPP, ICSA President, is Past-President of the American Academy of
Counseling Psychology and the Greater Philadelphia Society of Clinical Hypnosis. He is a licensed and Board-certified counseling psychologist whose involvement in cultic studies began with a participant-observation study of Unification Church training in their Eastern seminary (in Barrytown, NY) in the spring of 1975. His doctoral dissertation to date remains the only intensive, quantified observation of a deprogramming. He was honored with AFF's 1990 John G. Clark Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Cultic Studies for this study, which was published as a special issue of the Cultic Studies Journal and has been translated into several foreign languages. In 1983, along with Dr. Linda Dubrow-Marshall and clinical social worker Roberta Eisenberg, Dr. Eichel founded the Re-Entry Therapy, Information & Referral Network (RETIRN), one of the field's oldest continuing private providers of psychological services to families and individuals harmed by cultic practices. RETIRN currently has offices in Newark, DE, Lansdowne, PA and Preston, England (U.K.). In addition to his psychology practice and his involvement with ICSA, Dr. Eichel is active in a range of professional associations. He has co-authored several articles and book reviews on cult-related topics for the CSJ/CSR.
Former members are often reluctant to seek the help that they need. Therefore, please inform and encourage those who might benefit from this workshop, which has received virtually universal high evaluations for over 20 years.
Did you know that this website contains:
New Power Point Presentation: ICSA Goals and Programs
Changes in the North American Cult Awareness Movement (by Carol Giambalvo, Michael Kropveld, & Michael Langone)
Benefits of Dialogue - An article by the ICSA Board of Directors
Did you know that this website contains:
Betrayal of the Spirit. The University of Illinois Press recently released an electronic version of Nori Muster’s Betrayal of the Spirit – about her years in Hare Krishna. Available through Amazon.
Human Rights Report. The Washington Post (December 31, 2013) published a story on countries that restrict religious freedom. The story was based on a report by Human Rights Without Frontiers, which is headed by Willy Fautre, who will speak at ICSA’s 2014 annual conference.
Pseudoscience Fact Sheets. In the late 1980s scientists associated with the Austin Society to Oppose Pseudoscience (ASTOP) created a collection of fact sheets on various pseudoscience topics. The ICSA website now has these fact sheets on astrology, ESP, ghosts, and other subjects. Fact Sheet Index.
Several prominent ICSA members spoke at INFORM's Anniversary Conference, Minority Religions: Contemplating the Past and Anticipating the Future, which took place at the New Academic Building, London School of Economics, London, Friday 31 January - Sunday 2 February 2014.
Michael Kropveld and Michael Langone (via video) participated in a plenary session: "A Word from the 'Cultwatchers."
Linda Dubrow-Marshall, Gillie Jenkinson, Steve Eichel, and Rod Dubrow-Marshall contributed to a panel on therapeutic considerations. Many other interesting talks and panels will take place during the three-day conference. More information.
This special conference is related to a recently published Ashgate book, edited by Dr. Eileen Barker: Revisionism and Diversification in New Religious Movements. Carol Giambalvo, Michael Kropveld, and Michael Langone contribute a chapter to this book: "Changes in North American Cult Awareness Organizations."
Dan Shaw's Work on Traumatic Narcissism
Daniel Shaw, LCSW, has long been active with ICSA. He co-leads ICSA's local meeting in New York City, is on the editorial board of International Journal of Cultic Studies (IJCS), has spoken at many ICSA conferences, and has published in ICSA periodicals. Dan is also the guest editor of an upcoming special issue of IJCS (Vol. 5, 2014) on the subject of a book he has recently completed: Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation (available on amazon.com).
Regular ICSA members will receive the print version of the IJCS special issue on traumatic narcissism. Web members will have electronic access to the issue.
Dan's work on traumatic narcissism is an important and original theoretical contribution to the cultic studies field. His work is relevant to understanding the psychology of some cult leaders.
On Sunday, January 26, 2014, from 11:00 am - 1:30 pm, Dan spoke on traumatic narcissism at the National Institute of the Psychotherapies in New York City.