How Cults Shape Aspects of Post-Cult Identity, Character, and Conscience
Gillie Jenkinson, Lorna Goldberg
ICSA Barcelona Conference
3-7 July 2024
The presenters will examine how the cult leader’s personality, in combination with the coercive cult environment and thought reform, influences former member’s identity, including conscience. If those influences go unchallenged, they shape aspects of their character and identity post-cult. Additionally, the presenters will offer ways in which former members and therapists might approach these post-cult characteristics. Gillie will focus on how, in a coercive cultic environment, former cult members introject (swallow whole without chewing over) what they are told about life, themselves, and any higher spiritual being or God. As a result, a pseudo-identity develops that supersedes their authentic identity to meet the demands of a narcissistic and harsh leader and coercively controlling environment. She will also explore ways to recover. Lorna will focus on the cult leader’s influence on the member’s conscience. The cult conscience can become self-attacking, self-sacrificing, and, in some cases, grandiose. She will demonstrate how former members and therapists might approach these aspects of post-cult conscience.
Certificate in Post-Cult Counselling (considering for 2024/2025)
12 days - dates to be decided and confirmed
The Hope Valley Counselling Certificate in Post-Cult Counselling (C-PCC) is designed to train therapists to work with survivors of coercive and cultic groups and relationships and spiritual abuse and to use a psychoeducational Recovery Workbook developed by Dr Gillie Jenkinson. The Recovery Workbook is at the heart of Post-Cult Counselling (PCC).
Therapists need to have an indepth understanding of the dynamics of coercive and cultic groups and 'brainwashing' or thought reform theory and the 'cult mind-set'. This course is designed to train them to work with these issues.
If you wish to express an interest in attending the Certificate in Post-Cult Counselling in 2023 or 2024, please contact Gillie Jenkinson.
Report on the completed C-PCC 2022 (second cohort)
The second C-PCC was delivered on Zoom by two highly experienced therapist trainers Dr Gillie Jenkinson and Vicky Kalis.
Initially, the trainees attended a five day Recovery Workshop and experienced the Recovery Workbook for themselves and the following two weekends entailed explaining the evolution of the Workbook and how to use it with clients. Trainees also had the opportunity to try it out on themselves!
After writing a number of assignments, delivering presentations on these assignments, and attending the three weekend trainings (12 days), I am proud to anounce that there are 6 graduates of the C-PCC who are taking their training forward to work with Post-Cult Counselling and the Recovery Workbook with former cult members and survivors of spiritual abuse. The graduates are continuing together, with Gillie, in a support and supervision group.
Feedback on C-PCC 2022
'Gillie and Vicky were great presenters, great mix of them relating their experiences and listening to our experiences. Theories were presented clearly and linked to our experiences. The amount of information was just right, not too heavy, not too light. References were given for further reading if needed. Relationships were built despite all being on zoom. It felt like a safe space.'
'I wouldn't change anything!'
Please describe the best aspects: 'Multiple aspects have created an outstanding experience, delivered with intelligence yet accessible. Full of depth, shared pain, shared hope. Felt like a safe group, thank you.'
The Recovery Workshop element: 'This course provided me with a theoretical framework to understand my experience. I examined my own experience through the lens of thought reform and came to some new realisations about how damaging my time in a cult was. It was good to have my experience validated - so much of the time I just took it as 'normal' -it was helpful to see that it was, in fact, really abusive and harmful.'
Overall satisfaction: 'Yes, 1 million percent!'
'No changes, just to keep the flexibility as we have had...to hear, as you have done, what the group needs/wants, this has felt really useful and having plenty of space to ask questions and hear one another has been excellent, thank you!'
'I found exploring the harm elements emotionally triggering - in both realising the deep personal harm and then the harm to others, especially children. There were a few times during this (3rd) weekend that I almost put my running shoes on in flight survival mode because of fear taking this forward within my context. I felt these fears were heard and supported by Gillie and Vicky and the rest of the group.'
And there was lots more of course....
Report on the completed C-PCC 2019-2020 (first Cohort)
The first ever C-PCC was delivered in Derbyshire, England and on Zoom by two highly experienced therapist trainers Dr Gillie Jenkinson and Sue Parker Hall, international speaker and author of 'Anger, Rage, and Relationship' in 2019-21.
It was quite an adventure delivering the C-PCC which started face to face in the lovely Hope Valley in the form of a Recovery Workshop for the therapist trainees in September 2019. The second weekend was planned for 23 March 2020 (that memorable date when we all went into the first lockdown 1!). Gillie had to postpone the weekend, rethink, and take the C-PCC online and the March weekend finally happened in June on Zoom (our new best friend!). We had the final weekend in September 2020.
After writing a number of assignments, delivering presentations on these assignments, and attending the three weekend trainings (10 days), I am proud to anounce that there are 7 graduates of the C-PCC who plan to take their training forward to work with Post-Cult Counselling and the Recovery Workbook with former cult members and survivors of spiritual abuse in 2021. The graduates are continuing together, with Gillie, in a support and supervision group.
Feedback in relation to the C-PCC 2019-2020
'I found (the training) covered a number of very practical aspects that will enable me to get going and help set expectations. I also thoroughly enjoyed the presentations. I found the group or partner work always helpful in bringing more self awareness as well as giving another opportunity to practice the Recovery Workbook. I found it very well paced and a wonderful mixture of theory and practice. Thank you both!'
'I absolutely loved this training and it certainly has been life transforming and will continue to impact me as I move forward personally and professionally.'
'I think by far this is the most difficult course I have completed emotionally, but it was done in such a safe and respectful way and I have developed as a result both personally and professionally. I would definitely recommend.'
'It was: Interesting, Enjoyable, Motivating, Informative, Tiring, Comprehensive, Exciting.'
'It has given me an insight on significant issues around working with the PCC model and incorporating it into my own practice. We also explored important ethical and legal issues that may arise which was comforting.'
'The course content was really helpful and included how to practically start practising and things to consider and put into place.'
Was it facilitated in a safe and appropriate way?
'Yes definitely. It was done in a sensitive, respectful and ethical way.'
'Gillie and Sue are exceptional at constantly inviting participants to check in with everyone and to check out their feelings and how (difficult) element of the course can impact. They gave an appropriate amount of time to it and kept the course content at the right level to prevent feeling overwhelmed.'
Hope Valley Therapist Training
We have developed 1-day and 2-day trainings suitable for therapists wishing to attend CPD and gain an introduction to working with former cult members and survivors of spiritual abuse - please contact Gillie if you are interested in receiving further information.
We have also developed a 12 day training for those wishing to be equipped to work with the Post-Cult Counselling model and the Recovery Workbook - Certificate in Post-Cult Counselling (see above).
Supervision or consultancy is also available for therapists requiring support.
Register your interest by emailing us below, and we’ll keep you up to date regarding the training.