100655: Cults and Families

About the Course:

This article provides an overview of cult-related issues that may reveal themselves in therapeutic situations. These issues include: families in cults; parental (especially mothers’) roles in cults; the impact that cult leaders have on families; the destruction of family intimacy; child abuse; issues encountered by noncustodial parents; the impact on cognitive, psychological and moral deveolopment; and health issues. Concludes with a discussion of the therapeutic challenges that therapists face when working with cult-involved clients and make preliminary recommendations for treatment. COURSE SYLLABUS I. Sources of Information II. Families Within Cults III. The Fate of the Parental Role IV. The Impact of Cult Leaders on Families V. Shaming, Humiliation, and Relinquishing Responsibility VI. The Destruction of Family Intimacy VII. Motherhood and Parenting VIII. Child Abuse IX. Separated Families: The Case of the Noncustodial Parent X. Effects on Cognitive and Psychological Development XI. Effects on Moral Development XII. Effects on Health XIII. Conclusion

Publication Date:

2003/ Vol. 84, No. 4


Doni Whitsett, PhD; Stephen A. Kent, PhD

About the Authors:

Clinical Associate Professor School of Social Work University of Southern California

Professor Department of Sociology University of Edmonton

Recommended For:

This course is recommended for social workers, counselors, psychologists, and other human services and behavioral health professionals who seek knowledge about cults and families. It is appropriate for participants with intermediate to advanced levels of knowledge about the topic.

Course Objectives:

  1. Identify therapeutic challenges faced by the therapists working with cult-involved clients.

  2. Identify cult-related issues that may reveal themselves in therapeutic situations.

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