Welcome to the forum!
I do my best to answer your questions below. I think it is good that you are cautious. I hope I can answer some of your concerns, at least.
Honestly, I am somewhat put off by Mr. Knapp's postings. First of all, he says he's a psychotherapist. I have undergone therapy a couple times in my life for long periods and found it helpful for mild depression and anxieties. I tend to associate psychotherapy with psychologists. Mr. Knapp is a social worker. Does he actually have training in psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is done by a number of professionals. Social workers, mental health counselors, family and couples counselors, nurse practitioners all may earn credentials in psychotherapy or counseling.
I have my masters in social work, with a specialization in therapy. In most states, this is a licensed profession that may do both counseling and psychotherapy. I am licensed in New York, which means I earned my masters degree in social work, passed a licensing exam, went through some years of supervision, and have hours logged both as an intern and professional.
These days most psychologists do more testing than therapy. Psychiatrists do more med management than therapy. Although, you will find some of both professions who do in fact counsel.
I wonder how much. Is he actually trained to counsel people in delicate mental states? What gives him the professional status and justifies him to do this? I know legally, anyone can call themselves a psychotherapist, and that even a social worker can conduct therapy if they can get someone to participate.
Actually in my state, and many others in the US, this is not true. To hang out your shingle you must earn credentials and be licensed to do therapy.
There are state boards and professional associations that require certain legal standards for practice, as well as a set of ethics and practice guidelines.
I have nothing against social workers -- my daughter is one. But she would never consider herself a psychotherapist because she is not trained to do that. She works for the state and helps people in difficult situations, but if someone needs professional therapy, she refers them to a psychologist.
It sounds like your daughter didn't major in psychotherapy? I don't know where you live. In our state, even social workers who do not do psychotherapy are licensed and credentialed. This isn't true in every state.
I have counseled people in delicate mental states for some years. Depending on their needs, I may work in conjunction with a psychiatrist or nurse practitioner who administers meds. I am not qualified to administer meds.
One of my therapists was a psychiatrist AND a psychologist -- one of the top in his field and a president of his state psychiatric organization. He actually prescribed Transcendental Meditation, or, rather, recommended it to me several years ago. I am shocked to find it discussed here as a cult. I find that preposterous. I visited Mr. Knapp's website, and found it rather silly. Many of his statements are misleading, such as, TM tells people that psychiatrists will think they are crazy because of experiences they are having and not to go to them. My TM teacher laughed out loud at this when I told him. Mr. Knapp seems to have his own personal version of TM, as does everyone, I guess. The difference with me and others I know who meditate with TM is that we really enjoy it, find great benefit, and of course we are not involved in any cult.
Well, it seems we disagree on this point. I believe you can search this website and find discussions about cultic experiences with Transcendental Meditation. Certainly there are a number of books that discuss cultic experiences with TM: Take Back Your Life and Cults in Our Midst jump immediately to mind.
I recognize that defining any group as cultic is controversial. Some will agree and some will not. I do not define groups as cultic any more, although I once did. I talk about cultic relationships [KnappFamilyCounseling.com
Some hundreds of my clients report having cultic relationships with TM. AND many people report having great experiences with TM. As far as I am concerned, this is up to individuals to discern for themselves. I accept my clients at face value. If they feel they have been damaged, we deal with the challenges they face. Naturally, people who do not feel they have been damaged -- and that would be the majority of people involved with TM and similar groups -- do not seek me out.
I would suggest, however, that asking your TM teacher whether TM is cultic or not may not be the least biased source you could seek.
I was involved with Transcendental Meditation for 23+ years. I was mid-level in the hierarchy, no big-wig. However, as a TM teacher and governor, I lectured to some thousands of people and offered services to some thousands more. For myself, I long ago decided I had a cultic relationship with that group.
I am pleased to hear that you feel good about your experiences in TM.
My experience with TM is that it has given me more happiness inside. It has made me a stronger person and more self-reliant. (It's done more for me than therapy.) It has kept me off blood pressure medicine. As a doctor, I am familiar with all the TM research studies showing good results. I find it baffling and extremely narrow minded that people would condemn this practice, call it a cult, and discuss it as if they knew what they were talking about. It's seriously irresponsible. Most disturbing, I find the whole TM/cult discussion to be very shallow, ill articulated, unscientific, and based on a few individuals' needs to label groups and induct people into their own way of thinking -- which is not only suspect but actually quite "cult-like" in itself. It appears to me that "cult chasing" is a form of co-dependence, that certain people have the personal need to gather people around them whom they can counsel, people who will look to them as guides.
I don't know if there's enough free thinking on this site to even allow comments like mine. I guess I'll find out.
I'll keep looking to see if I can find intelligent, thoughtful discussions here about the pathology of indoctrination and suggestion, especially any science on it. From a medical point of view, the research on it is sketchy, mentioning (as Knapp sites) a few hormonal changes and neurotransmitters, but this is not actual replicated science.
By the way, speaking of replicated science, there are over 350 studies on TM in scientific journals, showing positive clinical results. Many of these were funded by the NIH -- not known for funding cults. I now recommend TM to my own patients, and I've seen many good results -- and only good results.
The research on TM remains controversial, a large portion of it having been done by adherents and representatives of the TM organization itself. A recent government-sponsored meta-analysis of all meditation research found the benefits relatively minor and much of the research substandard [www.ahrq.gov
I can't speak for the moderator of this site or posters and lurkers, but as far as I know doubts, questions, and concerns of all kinds are fair game. To my knowledge people do post from time to time defending one group or another. I have no reason to believe that your thoughts in support of TM would be censored or censured.
Speaking strictly for myself, I think it's great you raise these questions. My guess is that other readers here may have them, even though they don't write about them.
It's good that you give voice to your points of view and concerns.