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Graduate Study

Individuals interested in cultic studies sometimes ask about degree programs or other graduate school options. This page will first briefly describe two degree programs that began in 2017.  The page will then list professors and universities that have been open to graduate students pursuing topics pertinent to cultic studies in the disciplines of mental health (counseling, social work, pastoral psychology, clinical psychology), psychology, sociology, religious studies, and law. If you know of study opportunities not listed here, please tell us about them (

Here are two websites providing general information on graduate programs in psychology and counseling:

Degree/Certificate Programs

University of Salford
Manchester, UK

[From the program's website]

"This course provides advanced insights and knowledge of cutting edge practice and research about coercive control and behaviour and its development and effects on individuals, families and organisations. You will develop a deep understanding of the psychological processes involved in coercive and controlling behaviour across a variety of settings including in domestic relationships, human trafficking and groups and organisations more widely.

On this course you will receive tailored support from a highly experienced and qualified team of psychology and professional staff who are involved in advancing practice and research regarding the prevention, effects and recovery from coercive and controlling behaviour.

You will be very well placed to advance your career in a variety of professions where the government is seeking to develop provision for the prevention of and recovery from coercive control and abuse and you will also be very well prepared to apply for a professional doctorate and research career paths in psychology and other relevant disciplines...

Psychology graduates and graduates in other relevant disciplines e.g. counselling, health sciences, nursing, criminal justice, law and police science. The course will also attract professionals working in a variety of organisations and settings where survivors of abuse are assisted. The course is also a route towards a career in organisations and settings which help survivors of abuse and is also a route to a professional doctorate or an academic / research career."

The program is related to a law that went into effect in the UK in 2015: "The Serious Crime Act 2015 (the 2015 Act) received royal assent on 3 March 2015. The Act creates a new offence of controlling or coercive behaviour in intimate or familial relationships (section 76). The new offence closes a gap in the law around patterns of controlling or coercive behaviour in an ongoing relationship between intimate partners or family members. The offence carries a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment, a fine or both."  More information on this law.

For further information contact:

Dr. Linda Dubrow-Marshall -

Professor Rod Dubrow-Marshall -

Diplôme Universitaire
Psychopathologie et Droit des derives sectaires
L’université Catholique de Lille

Ce diplôme s'adresse a tous les professionnels du secteur sanitaire, social, éducatif, du secteur juridique, pénitentiaire, de la police, confrontes au problème sectaire.

Le DU est organisé en sessions de deux journées (16h). Chaque UE contient deux sessions, donc 4 journées, la second visant essentiellement a reprendre, sous forme d'exposés individuels, les points abordes lors de la première session composée d'interventions magistrales.

Le coût du certificat est fixe a 3 000 euros HT auxquels s'ajoutent 80 euros de frais de dossier.

Contact Administratif : Peggy Duclos - (

Professors and Mental Health Professionals Interested in Graduate Student Mentoring and/or Supervision

Robin Boyle Laisure, JD,
Professor of Legal Writing, St. John’s University School of Law, is on the editorial board of ICSA’s International Journal of Cultic Studies. She lectures on topics concerning cults and the law. Her recent article, Employing Trafficking Laws to Capture Elusive Leaders of Destructive Cults, is published by the Oregon Review of International Law(2016). She also wrote Current Status of Federal Law Concerning Violent Crimes Against Women and Children: Implications for Cult Victims, published in the Cultic Studies Review (2002). Two articles have appeared in the Cultic Studies Journal: How Children in Cults May Use Emancipation Laws to Free Themselves (1999) and Women, the Law, and Cults: Three Avenues of Legal Recourse - New Rape Laws, Violence Against Women Act, and Antistalking Laws (1998). In 2005, she received the Faculty Outstanding Achievement award from the President of St. John’s University. Email:   University Listing
New York (Queens)

Linda J. Demaine, JD, PhD
(social psychology), is Professor of Law and Affiliate Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University. She is founder and director of ASU's Law and Psychology Graduate Program. Before arriving at ASU, Dr. Demaine was a behavioral scientist and policy analyst at RAND, where she led and participated in diverse projects, including an analysis of biotechnology patents and the strategic use of deception and other psychological principles in defense of critical computer networks. Dr. Demaine has held an American Psychological Association Congressional Fellowship, through which she worked with the Senate Judiciary Committee on FBI and DOJ oversight, judicial nominations, and legislation. She has also held an American Psychological Association Science Policy Fellowship, working with the Central Intelligence Agency's Behavioral Sciences Unit on issues involving cross-cultural persuasion. Dr. Demaine's research interests include the empirical analysis of law, legal procedure, and legal decision making; the application of legal and psychological perspectives to social issues; ethical, legal, and social issues deriving from advances in technology; and information campaigns and persuasion. University Listing. 

Cyndi Matthews, PhD, LPC-S, NCC
is an experienced counseling clinician working in private practice and a counseling professor at the University of North Texas-Dallas. Her passion for social justice and advocacy is exemplified in her counseling practice and current research, both of which focus on effective counseling interventions for marginalized populations, such as cult survivors, domestic violence survivors, and LGBT populations. Based on her scholarship and clinical expertise she has researched and developed theory for counseling with former second generation adult (SGA) cult recovery survivors. Website: Email: Phone: (469) 316-7290

Doni Whitsett, PhD, LCSW,
is a Clinical Professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work where she teaches various courses in practice, behavior, mental health, and human sexuality. She has been working with cult-involved clients and their families for over 20 years and gives lectures to students and professionals on this topic. 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), Cults and Families (Families in Society, Vol. 84, No. 4, 2003), which she coauthored with Dr. Stephen Kent, and Why cults are harmful: Neurobiological speculations on inter-personal trauma. ICSA Today, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2014. Dr. Whitsett also has a specialty in Sexuality and was awarded a Fulbright Specialist Scholarship in 2016 to study, teach, and do research on this topic in China. Email: Phone: (323) 907-2400
California, Southern (Los Angeles)