Material Republished from: Wikipedia
Exit counseling, also termed strategic intervention therapy, cult intervention or thought reform consultation is an intervention designed to persuade an individual to leave a group perceived to be a cult. It is distinguished from deprogramming by the fact that it's a voluntary procedure, that the follower is treated with respect, can leave any time, and that the decision to stay with the group or leave it is wholly up to the follower and will be accepted as it is by the exit counselor.
Generally, the person is presented with information about the group in question or other groups, including especially information which is usually not available to followers, testimonies from former members of this or other cults, along with information on the nature of mind control theory. The conviction of the exit-counselor is that once the member is aware of the logical flaws in his belief structure and his allegiance, as well as the emotional factors binding him to the cult, he will not feel comfortable remaining in the organization.
Unlike deprogramming, which is usually defined as including coercive factors, exit counseling is usually seen as a voluntary agreement between a follower and an exit counseling specialist to talk about the follower's involvement with the group and it is usually done in presence of the family of the follower. The exit counseling specialist is usually hired by concerned relatives or marriage partner of the follower.
Exit counselors who abide by an ethics code, e.g. Steven Hassan, author of the book Combatting Cult Mind Control, Rick Ross, or the Thought Reform Consultants including Carol Giambalvo and David Clark, confirm in accordance with their code that exit counseling is a voluntary procedure, that the follower is treated with respect, can leave any time, if he or she wishes, and that the decision to stay with the group or leave it is wholly up to the follower and will be accepted as it is by the exit counselor.
Carol Giambalvo, David Clark, Steven Hassan and Rick Ross describe an exit counseling with the following steps: (Giambalvo 1992, Clark 1993, Hassan 2000)
1) Prior to the exit counseling, the exit counselor has meetings with the family who want the exit counseling, where the specific concerns of the family are determined, the family is informed about the group and its teachings, the goal of the exit counseling: an informed choice of the follower to either stay in the group or leave it, the results which can be expected, as well as further supportive steps when the follower does decide to leave his group.
2) Based on this information and often further reading, the family decides whether an exit counseling is not appropriate, should be envisioned somewhere in the future, or should be undertaken. In any case, the exit counselor advises the family how to best handle the situation – e.g. gradually to improve communication with the follower. If an intervention is foreseen, the circumstances are discussed, which family members are going to take part, who is going to be the exit counseling team and who of the family is going to get the agreement of the follower regarding the intervention.
3) The intervention takes place in the presence of some family member, who introduces the exit counselor. It is crucial that the exit counselor can build up a rapport with the follower very soon – if this is not possible, the follower will simply leave. During the whole intervention the follower is approached with respect, can voice his views freely, and can decide when to take a break or when he wants to leave.
4) The exit counselor's objective is to review the information with the follower and his family, and let the information speak for itself. The content of the information involves usually the family concerns which were the reason for the exit counseling, the nature of mind control, doctrinal, ideological and organizational issues of the respective group, including especially information which is usually not available to followers like an analysis of internal group documents. Helping resources for common problems after leaving a cult are also taken up.
5) In the end, it is up to the follower to make his decision about what to do with the information received. Their choices will be respected. If the person chooses to remain with the group, the exit counselor seeks to work with him and the family out how to improve family relationships in the future. If the person chooses to leave the group, the exit counselor will talk about their next steps, support by the family and other resources and possible recovery issues.
Typically an exit counseling takes several days: Giambalvo and Hassan speak of three, Rick Ross of four days average. Hourly rates vary, according to qualification and experience of the consultant, figures given are between 75$ and 150$ per hour, fees for an intervention between 3750 to 5000 US dollar.
Clark speaks of an average of 90% of persons leaving the cult following a three day intervention, Ross of about 75%. Both stress that it is not possible to predict the issue of a specific case in advance.
Material republished from RickRoss.com
1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
4. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
5. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
6. Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
7. There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
8. Followers feel they can never be "good enough".
9. The group/leader is always right.
10. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing "truth" or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.
Material republished from RickRoss.com
1. Extreme obsessiveness regarding the group/leader resulting in the exclusion of almost every practical consideration.
2. Individual identity, the group, the leader and/or God as distinct and separate categories of existence become increasingly blurred. Instead, in the follower's mind these identities become substantially and increasingly fused--as that person's involvement with the group/leader continues and deepens.
3. Whenever the group/leader is criticized or questioned it is characterized as "persecution".
4. Uncharacteristically stilted and seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the group/leader in personal behavior.
5. Dependency upon the group/leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought. A seeming inability to think independently or analyze situations without group/leader involvement.
6. Hyperactivity centered on the group/leader agenda, which seems to supercede any personal goals or individual interests.
7. A dramatic loss of spontaneity and sense of humor.
8. Increasing isolation from family and old friends unless they demonstrate an interest in the group/leader.
9. Anything the group/leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.
10. Former followers are at best-considered negative or worse evil and under bad influences. They can not be trusted and personal contact is avoided.
www.rickross.com — the Ross Institute for the Study of Destructive Cults, Controversial Groups and Movements. Rick Ross is the founder and Executive Director of the Rick A. Ross Institute. He is an internationally known expert regarding destructive cults, controversial groups and movements. Since 1982 he has been studying, researching and responding to the problems often posed by such groups or movements. He has personally assisted thousands of families in an effort to help the victims of destructive cults, groups and movements.
www.freedomofmind.com — Steven Alan Hassan, cult counselor and mind control expert, is the Nationally Certified Counselor and licensed Mental Health Counselor who has developed the breakthrough approach to help loved ones rescue cult mind control victims.
www.icsahome.com — International Cultic Studies Association
Founded in 1979, the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) is a global network of people concerned about psychological manipulation and abuse in cultic groups, alternative movements, and other environments.