Have You Had a Bad Experience with a “Cult Expert”?
There are a number of individuals, some mental health professionals, some not, who offer services to families who have loved ones in groups that are considered to be destructive cults who identify themselves by a variety of titles, the most common ones being exit counseling, thought reform consultant, deprogrammer (a term usually reserved for forcible abduction, which is illegal) or strategic interaction. For convenience, I will refer to this group as exit counselors, although that is not the title all use. There are some exit counselors who are honest, do not charge excessive fees for their services or make unrealistic claims. However, that is not the case for some. Because often, such families feel they are in desperate circumstances, some exit counselors take advantage of this and the result has been that some families have spent as much or more than they would have spent on a child’s college education (as Steve Hassan argues to justify the high cost in his recent book), yet have not achieved the results they hoped for. Families that spent tens of thousands of dollars, yet never got to the point of even doing an intervention are not typically counted when “success rates” are calculated. Some self proclaimed “cult experts” (a meaningless term since there are no real criteria for determining who is an expert unless someone has been an expert in court) have been known to charge up to $500 an hour or $5000 a day for their services to desperate families, but that does not stop cult watch organizations from welcoming them as conference speakers and allowing them to promote their books and services. This is a topic that deserves more discussion, as unsupported claims are being made in this area and families are sometimes being exploited, both financially and emotionally.
Have you had a bad experience with a “cult expert”? Have you hired someone who has charged excessive fees with all kinds of extra charges (e.g. hundreds of dollars per hour just to respond to emails or phone calls) that were not advertised on his or her website and ended up spending far more than you expected with no results? If there was a failure, did you get blamed for it? If anyone reading this has had a negative experience with someone who they hired to get their loved one out of a cult, please let us know, either by responding to this blog or to me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org . If you do not wish to go public, I will keep what you tell me in confidence or you can post here under a pseudonym.