About Us

Who We Are

Founded in 1979*, the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) is a global network of people concerned about psychological manipulation and abuse in cultic and other high-control environments. ICSA is tax-exempt, supports civil liberties, and is not affiliated with any religious or commercial organizations. ICSA is unique in how it brings together former group members, families, helping professionals and researchers.


ICSA's mission is to provide information, education, and help to those adversely affected by or interested in cultic and other high-control groups and relationships.

What We Do

ICSA fulfills its mission by applying 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

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. In recent years about 125 persons have volunteered to speak at the annual conference.

With the help of volunteers, ICSA conducts a variety of regional conferences and webinars (see Events) and local meetings.

Your financial support enables ICSA to:

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