Section 2: Get Help, Recover, Find Community

Understanding and Escaping Spiritual Abuse and Cults

The Individual/Group Counseling, Coaching, and Therapy section lists mental health professionals and groups that specialize in SA/cult recovery.

How do I know if my loved one is in a cult? How do I help? (Dallas Cult Resource)
I think my loved one is in a cult!
(Freedom of Mind Resource Center)
Was I in a cult? (A list of great questions and info links about how to define a cult, compiled by Roseanne Henry, LPC)

Check out…

An open glossary of terms related to spiritual abuse by Spiritual Abuse Support
Biderman’s Chart of Coercion (methods cults use to draw people in an keep them)
BITE Model
to ID a cult by Freedom of Mind Resource Center
Evaluation Checklist for Cults
by Freedom of Mind Resource Center
How to spot Undue Influence
(apply this to spiritually abusive leaders or cults)
List of potential cults
 at Freedom of Mind Resource Center
Singer’s 6 Conditions for Thought Reform
(how do cults brainwash people?)
Starting Out in Mainstream America 
is a free online book: educate yourself on basic survival skills, from getting a car to budgeting to creating relationships
Traits, Effects, and Recovery from Spiritual Abuse
(FYI: authored by Watchman Fellowship, a Christian watchdog org against cults; claims knowing “the true God” is a required part of recovery)
What is a cult? by Carol Giambalvo
What is Spiritual Abuse?
by Cynthia Mullen Kunsman of, exploring phenomenon of spiritual abuse in Evangelical churches

Recovering from Religion, Spiritual Abuse, or Cults

An open glossary of terms related to spiritual abuse by Spiritual Abuse Support
Check out
 Dr. Marlene Winell’s workbook on recovery from religious life
Common issues of those coming out of cults by Margaret Singer, PhD
Coping with triggers
, an easy-to-understand explanation of why you may feel anxious, unreal, or out of control
Spiritual Abuse Support’s amazing resource page!

What is Religious Trauma Syndrome? by Dr. Marlene Winell
What is Post-Cult Trauma Syndrome?
by Dallas Cult Resource (synonym for RTS)

Find Individual/Group Counseling or Therapy

What’s the difference between counselor/therapist/social worker/etc?!

Stephen Hassan, M.Ed, LMHC, NCC (Freedom of Mind Resource Center) counselor, Massachusetts, individual short-term help for survivors of cults/controlling families

Becoming Free coaching (help you build a new future)
Becoming Free professionally run support groups for survivors of harmful/abusive religion in Colorado
Becoming Free workshops to educate survivors’ still-religious loved ones
offers professional, short-term counseling and can refer you to longer term therapy or mental health services
Life After God coaching
 for individuals/groups transitioning away from religion
Journey Free offers free consultations, individual therapy, and online support groups
Dr. Marlene Winell’s workbook on recovery from religious life
Find secular therapists through Recovering from Religion Secular Therapy Project
Steps to Recovery article by Dr. Marlene Winell of Journey Free
Wellspring, US residential treatment center for spiritual abuse/cult survivors

Informal Peer Support Groups and a Hotline

See reFOCUS’ list of ex-cult support groups across the country.

a local Recovering from Religion support group
Find a Secular Safe Zone
 (safe space for nontheists in a given institution)
Footsteps does art shows, ball games, socials, and annual events/parties for the formerly Ultra-Orthodox in NY
Footsteps peer support groups in NY for those transitioning out of Orthodox Jewish life
Journey Free’s online support group: to apply, sign up for a free 20-min chat appt; $10-40 monthly fee based on need
Off the Derekh meetups a friendly social/support group for former Orthodox Jews: NYC and Rockland-Bergen Counties
Recovering from Religion’s Hotline Project (call or chat): 1-84-I-DOUBT-IT I’ve called them before! They listen, offer resources, and don’t try to convert or deconvert you.
Twin Cities Former Fundamentalists meetup

Secular Groups and Communities

Atheist Community of Austin always has something going on, from weekly events to community service to podcasts
Find a United Coalition of Reason group
to socialize/volunteer with other nontheists
Give or volunteer with Foundation Beyond Belief
Galha LGBT Humanists
 (in the UK)

Financial, Legal, Career, Educational, Family Services

Footsteps in NY offers all services listed above, such as career coaching, GED prep, a fellowship, and court companions
Footsteps’ Divorce and Custody Handbook offers thorough info on the legal process for those looking to leave an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community
Freedom from Religion Foundation brings lawsuits to keep church and state separate (check out the founders’ fascinating interview with Recovering from Religion!) 
Ignite! Footsteps $5000 Community Impact Microgrants
for applicants seeking to help the formerly Ultra-Orthodox
Starting Out in Mainstream America is a free online book: educate yourself on basic survival skills, from getting a car to budgeting to creating relationships
Quit Mormon
free legal representation to help you resign from the Church