Mental Health Professionals

Indispensable Book for Mental Health Professionals

Cult Recovery: A Clinician’s Guide to Working With Former Members and Families. Editors: Lorna Goldberg, William Goldberg, Rosanne Henry, Michael Langone.

Purchase in bookstore. Special Offer: Book and ICSA membership.

About the Book

Bullet Point Overview

  • Do not assume that a group involvement is merely a sign of normal adolescent rebellion and identity searching, and that "this too will pass."

  • Do not assume that a group involvement reflects only unconscious individual psychopathology and/or a dysfunctional family system. Though these may be factors, do not focus on the person's or family's past to such a high degree that you overlook possibly traumatic effects of an abusive group experience.

  • Avoid confirmatory bias, that is, the common human tendency to notice, seek, and/or be alert to information that supports our initial impressions or formal assessment.

  • Do not approach a cult-related case as a strange, deeply mysterious phenomenon requiring esoteric expertise. Cult-related problems are, at their heart, consequences of unusually powerful social influences interacting with the spectrum of human personalities, needs, and goals.

  • Cults vary tremendously and change over time. Do not overgeneralize from cult definitions to a specific group.

  • Those who join cults as adults or young adults form their identity in the mainstream world and, therefore, can return to their "former self" and relationships when they leave a group.

  • Those who are born or raised in cultic groups form their identity in the group. When they exit a group they leave family and friends behind and enter a new and sometimes frightening world.

  • Clinical experience suggests that a significant percentage of former cultists suffer from PTSD.

  • People who leave cultic groups often experience volatile emotions and difficulty trusting people, including professionals. Be patient with them.

  • If you work with former cultists or family members of cult-involved persons, take advantage of ICSA's resources, including support from fellow professionals.


Additional Resources

Helpful Links

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See ICSA's YouTube channel, especially the mental health playlist.

ICSA members have access to additional videos from conferences and virtual events.

Problems Ex-Members and Families Face: An Overview. Lorna Goldberg, MSW, PsyA; William Goldberg, MSW, PsyA.

Mental Health Issues in Cult-Related Counseling. Steve Eichel, PhD, ABPP; William Goldberg, MSW, PsyA; Steven Hassan, MEd, LMC, NCC; Arnold Markowitz, LCSW

Leaving and Recovering From Cultic Groups and Relationships. Michael Langone, PhD; Patrick Ryan

Traumatic Narcissism: The Psychology of Cult Leaders. Daniel Shaw, MSW

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