one example
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 13, 2013 01:07AM

Another person wrote a vignette of a therapist who seemed to want to be a guru.

(Corboy note: Its not being Wiccan or feminist or a particular clothing style that is the problem. Its not having the knowledge, and worse, wanting to be someone's guru.

I want to emphasize that some therapists who turn into wannabe gurus do not appear spacey at all. They may come across as quite grounded, and dress in casual professional clothes. One can be a total bliss bunny in private with one's guru and fellow zombies, yet present as normal and lucid when in the outside world.)


You’re not my guru
Posted on February 8, 2013 by conflictgirl

I saw a therapist for about six months last year. Although I understand that some circumstances deserve discretion, I don’t feel that seeking therapy is one of them; in general I think secrets are toxic and I am completely in favor of erasing any stigma about mental health.

My therapist – we’ll call her Nancy – helped me a lot with my writing and my fear about the fact that my long-term contract job had an end date. I made peace with the end of my job and learned that I really did want to pursue my career as a writer again.

I developed a lot more confidence in my writing and my regular per-word rate doubled as a result of seeing her. So she was great when used on a short-term basis as kind of a career coach.

The problem was that she was flaky.

She was very much the stereotype of an aging hippie, with all-black outfits and ethnic jewelry, flute music in the waiting room, and artifacts of all cultures including both Native American dreamcatchers and statues of Buddha. She was kinda all over the place. One thing was clear: she really wanted to be my guru.

I’ve run across other people like her before. She reminded me a lot of a woman who used to run a witchy shop that sold crystals, essential oils and books on Wicca, who used to use the swinging of a crystal pendulum over your wrist to divine your future. She was nice enough, perfectly harmless, but flaky as all get out and clearly envisioned herself as a very wise healer. In fact that old witchy shop has long since closed but there’s a new one in town with a different owner, who fits the same spacey-airhead-guru personality type.

My therapist Nancy had a good talent for helping people find the root of their issues. My husband went with me for a couple of sessions and Nancy helped him zero in on some of his own hang-ups that were impacting our relationships, things he thought were long buried.

But that seemed to be the extent of Nancy’s help: she could identify the problems, but not how to fix them.

Part of that may be that she really only had two treatment modalities, something called the “emotional freedom technique” or EFT, and inner child visualization.

My oldest child went to see her for a couple months to sort out some of his gender identity issues and problems he has with me, and he now considers Nancy a complete quack and she turned him off to seeing another therapist, just because she was so limited in her treatment approaches.

Although she said that the treatment approaches helped her, and she repeatedly went into detail about her own problems, which was extremely unhelpful, she just seemed completely unable to offer other treatment methods even when asked to do so.

(Boundry violation, right there. A therapist should NOT disclose his or her problems to clients--Corboy)

Call it a failure of imagination on my part, but I just didn’t want her to be my guru.

Inner-child visualization and the energy-meridian tapping of EFT just felt too silly and I couldn’t ever get into it. Maybe that makes it a failure on my part rather than hers because I just couldn’t embrace her treatment options. What I do know is that it didn’t work for me, my husband or my kid. It was just too weird for us.

The interesting part that I learned was that I’m apparently more traditional than I sometimes like to think I am. One of the issues I discussed with Nancy was my discomfort with certain things about the Catholic church. She strongly swayed me away from going back and tried to put in a major plug for me to go to her Unity church instead.

(Corboy: Boundary violation #2 -- therapist should never push another belief system as an option. Respect a client's autonomy to find his or her own resources)

She emphasized how free the Unity church was and how I could believe in whatever I wanted, even though I told her that I liked the rituals in the Catholic church and wanted to find something a little more structured. Not being a therapist myself, I don’t know much about what they’re supposed to do, but I’m pretty sure that a good therapist is not really supposed to try to sway you out of your religious beliefs.

(Corboy Note: author is correct. This illustrates how many of us are not aware of the rules that cover therapy ethics. We know more about rules for sports than therapy--and thats something that needs to be changed. Anyone looking for a therapist can and ought to look up ethics guidelines for social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists to understand the basic ground rules. Fortunately, this is easily done online. Look up therapy ethics and boundary ethics and then go from there._

As much as she wanted to be my guru, I came away from it realizing that I am really my own guru. That doesn’t mean I’m my own God or anything, but it does mean that I realized that I’m the one I trust, more than I trust her. I can actually fix my problems quite well on my own. I hadn’t seen her since before Christmas and called her on Tuesday after my disastrous birthday, to make an appointment for a marriage counseling session. But I called to cancel the appointment today because, as I told her, my husband and I found a way to work things out on our own.

Ultimately I’m going to be okay, with or without her.

She sounded disappointed by that


A 'Spiritual" herapist Associated With Siddha Yoga
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 13, 2013 01:28AM



Is There Something Wrong or Questionable
in Your Treatment?
Estelle Disch, Ph.D.
BASTA! Boston Associates to Stop Treatment Abuse
528 Franklin Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
Copyright © 1990, 1992

The purpose of this list is to alert you to boundary issues that frequently occur in poor or abusive treatment and health care. If you are currently in a treatment that doesn’t feel right, and/or if several of the items below describe your treatment, I suggest that you find a consultant who does not know your current practitioner in order to assess whether or not the treatment is viable. If you have been in a treatment relationship that didn’t feel good to you, this list might help you identify what went wrong. The list below is not exhaustive. It is intended to offer examples of the kinds of behaviors that very often accompany poor treatment. Although most items apply to psychotherapy, some can apply to other kinds of health care, pastoral counseling, or clergy relationships. There is a section on touch-based health care (including bodywork) at the end of this checklist.

Certain items below might not always reflect poor treatment. For example, it might make sense to break ties with abusive people in your life, and a practitioner might support this with your best interests in mind. If, however, the practitioner is encouraging you to break ties with all your close relationships with the sole purpose of making you extremely dependent on him or her, that is very likely to be poor treatment. A practitioner who encourages you to see him or her as often as you can afford might genuinely have your best interests in mind. The issue to examine is whether he/she is encouraging extra sessions as part of his or her own need to have you become excessively dependent. A practitioner might occasionally share something about him/herself in order to help you (e.g. let you know you’re not the only one who has experienced that difficulty; offer some advice about what helped him/her in a similar situation). If, however, the practitioner talks about him or herself as a way of asking for help from you, as a way of having you serve as an audience, or as a way of derailing you from the issue you raised, there’s probably serious trouble in your treatment.

Good, boundaried psychotherapy, pastoral counseling, addiction counseling, bodywork, medical practice, etc. should always be oriented to your emotional and medical needs and not to the emotional needs of the practitioner. Practitioners who are lonely, need attention, have deep unresolved problems, and/or who lack good training in boundary issues are apt to do marginal or poor treatment. There are good practitioners, and you have a right to be treated by them.

Many of the items listed below might fit into more than one category.

For a PDF version of this list, click this link: Treatment Abuse Checklist

Business Practices

Practitioner has offered to see me for free or for a very low fee as a favor to me.

Since my fee is so low, the practitioner expects me to bring food for him/her to the sessions or to do other tasks in exchange for treatment.

Practitioner bills insurance for sessions that don’t occur.

Sessions frequently run over by half an hour or more.

I am usually the last appointment of the day.

There is usually no one else around when I have my appointments.

The practitioner often keeps me waiting for long periods of time.

I owe the practitioner over $1,000.

I often don’t know how long a session is going to last. Sometimes it’s 20 minutes, other times it’s an hour and a half.

The practitioner frequently answers the phone during my sessions.

If the practitioner is hungry, we go to a restaurant during my session.

Dependency, Isolation and Goal Derailment

The practitioner has told me that I should break ties with most of my important relationships (such as those listed below) and I don’t understand why:
Mother Father Sister(s) Brother(s) Partner or Spouse
Social groups Religious activities Treatment group
Close friend(s) Political groups 12-Step programs Other

The practitioner encourages me to see him/her as often as I can afford to do so, even if I don’t feel a need to come so often.

The practitioner encourages me to telephone him/her often, even if I feel I don’t need to.

The practitioner tells me what she/he is doing in terms of personal growth and suggests that I do the same thing.

The practitioner goes out of his or her way to accommodate the frequent schedule changes that I request, even though it is very inconvenient for him/her.

The practitioner suggested that I drop out of school.

The practitioner seemed to think that my plans to go to/complete school were a bad idea.

The practitioner thought that my ideas to change my career for the better were not a good idea.

The practitioner offered to see me free if I were to run out of money, even if I needed long-term free treatment.

The practitioner has given me his or her own used clothing.

The practitioner tells me what clothing to wear and/or how to wear my hair.

The practitioner demands that I talk to no one about my treatment.

I have said several times that I’d like to see another practitioner for a consultation about my treatment, but my practitioner is adamant that I shouldn’t do it.

The practitioner regularly offers concrete support to me such as visits to my home, accompanying me in difficult situations, frequent calling to see how I am. When I am in a crisis, he/she is even more available.

I feel with this practitioner as though I’ve found the kind of help and understanding I’ve wanted all my life.

The practitioner regularly reminds me that she/he is the only person in my life who really cares about me. The practitioner regularly reminds me that he/she is the only person who really understands me and knows what’s good for me.

Social Contact

I have been to parties where the practitioner was and the practitioner didn’t discuss the implications of traveling in the same social circles.

The practitioner has invited me to parties.

I have invited the practitioner to parties to which he/she came.

I have invited the practitioner to parties to which he/she did not come but said it was because of a prior engagement.

I have attended professional meetings with this practitioner at his/her invitation.

This practitioner and I usually attend the same AA or Al-Anon (or equivalent) meeting.

This practitioner often gives me a ride to the bus at the end of the session.

This practitioner often gives me a ride home.

I have stayed at this practitioner’s house overnight.

I have spent social time with members of this practitioner’s family.

I have been/am intimately involved with one or more members of this practitioner’s family.

This practitioner and I have close friends in common.

Practitioner said or implied that we could be friends when treatment was over.

The practitioner sometimes takes drugs or drinks alcohol with me.

The practitioner has given me illegal drugs.

I have seen my practitioner nude at the health spa, gym, etc.

I have seen my practitioner at the gym or health club (dressed).

My practitioner and I are on the same sports team.

My practitioner and I are on competing sports teams and predictably see each other in that context.

I have access to a lot of personal information about the practitioner from mutual friends or colleagues.

We have never discussed how social contact outside the professional relationship might affect the professional relationship.

Other kinds of social contact. Please describe:

Feeling Special

The practitioner told me that I was his/her favorite client.

The practitioner talked about other clients in my presence.

The practitioner took calls from other clients in my presence and let me know who they were.

The practitioner said that she/he had never known anyone like me before.

The practitioner gives me lots of presents and says they’re a reflection of how important I am to him/her.

The practitioner tells me about other clients in a way that makes me feel important, trusted and special.

The practitioner told me I was special.

Other ways the practitioner helped you feel special. Please describe:

Cult Themes

There are many clients who seem close to this practitioner. I have met them or heard about them.

The practitioner likes to foster a sense of family and community among his/her clients, which I have been part of.

There are often parties or social meetings at the practitioner’s home, which I have attended.

The practitioner often takes former clients on as trainees at his/her training institute.

The practitioner plays the role of “guru” for his/her clients. He/she has a vision about how the world should be and is trying to develop a community of clients as followers/participants in this community.

I myself have been part of the planning group for the community the practitioner hopes to develop.

The practitioner talks about other clients I know with no respect for their right to confidentiality.

Ritualized group activities such as ceremonies were part of my relationship with the practitioner and his/her community.

The practitioner is the “guru” of the group in which she/he is involved.

Ritualized, sadistic activity in the presence of others.

Other ways the practitioner established a community or family-type atmosphere. Please describe:
Mind Control

The practitioner uses hypnosis as part of the treatment and I often don’t know what’s going on. When I ask, he/she refuses to answer.

I feel as though I’ve been hypnotized or somehow in a trance-like state in the practitioner’s presence, though he/she doesn’t seem to obviously use hypnosis.

I remember the practitioner making hypnotic suggestions that I don’t feel comfortable with.

After treatment was over, I began to remember some of the things the practitioner said or did while I was in a trance-like state, which in retrospect feel very uncomfortable or abusive.

The practitioner suggested that I kill myself.

The practitioner failed to take my suicidal feelings seriously. The practitioner suggested or implied that I might be better off dead.

The practitioner fostered a lot of dependency and then started trying to get me to do things I didn’t want to do.

The practitioner insulted what I believed were the good parts of my life.

A short time after I started treatment, my life began to fall apart. The practitioner didn’t seem concerned about my life. Rather, he/she seemed concerned that I stay dependent on him/her.

Sometimes I feel/felt drugged after sessions.

Other ways the practitioner affected your thinking or undermined your strength. Please describe:
Sexual Activity

The practitioner engaged (with or without physical force) in overt sexual contact such as: kissing of mouth, breasts, genitals; sexual hugs (prolonged full body hugs, pelvic thrusts, obvious erections); partial or total disrobing for the purpose of sexual contact; fondling of breasts or genitals (with or without clothing); masturbation; oral sex; vaginal or anal intercourse; use of sex toys; sexual activity while I was drugged.

Practitioner engaged in sexual activity with me against my will.

Practitioner initiated sexual activity with me on the condition that I keep quiet about it, by saying things like: If this gets out it will ruin me and/or my family.

After the sexual part of my relationship with the practitioner ended, he/she told me that if I told anyone she/he’d be ruined.

After the sexual part of my relationship with the practitioner ended, he/she threatened to expose embarrassing parts of my psychological history if I ever told anyone in authority or filed a complaint.

Practitioner threatens that if I don’t work on my repressed sexuality by being sexual with him/her, I’ll never get better.

After treatment ended, the practitioner called to ask me for a date.

A short time after treatment ended, I started a sexual relationship with the practitioner.

Seductive Language and Nonverbal Interaction:

Practitioner says, “If only I’d known you back then, we’d have made a good couple…”

Practitioner compliments my body.

Practitioner discusses his/ her sexual attraction to me.

Practitioner says, “If only we both weren’t married…”

Practitioner says he/she would like to have an affair with me when treatment is over.

Practitioner seems to have a voyeuristic interest in my sex life.

Practitioner sends me love letters.

Practitioner gives me sex toys to use at home, tells me how to use them and asks for details about how I’m doing with them.

Practitioner makes frequent comments on my appearance with the goal of having me appear as “sexually attractive” as possible.

Practitioner often suggested or implied that we could have an affair when treatment was over.

Practitioner looks at me in a voyeuristic way.
Treatment Process

Practitioner tells me his/her problems so that I can offer help or advice.

Practitioner talks a lot about him/herself and I don’t understand the relevance of what she/he is sharing for my treatment
Practitioner seems to free associate to what I say and spin off into his/her own thinking. I feel like my issues aren’t being addressed.

Practitioner always acts like he/she knows what’s best for me without asking me.

Practitioner is cold, distant, rigid.

Practitioner gets very angry, sometimes yells at me.

Practitioner interprets everything that happens between us as transference, even when I’m sure he/she has had a clear effect on how I feel.

Since starting treatment, I’ve felt worse rather than better, and the practitioner doesn’t seem concerned that this is happening or explain why it might be happening.

After starting treatment, my life began to fall apart. Rather than being concerned about the quality of my life or my state of mind, the practitioner seems more interested that I stay dependent upon him/her.

Since starting treatment, I’ve felt suicidal for the first time in my life; the practitioner doesn’t seem concerned.

Practitioner is hostile, sadistic.

Practitioner seems to enjoy my pain.

Practitioner fails to take my suicidal feelings seriously.

Practitioner suggested, either directly or indirectly, that I kill myself (e.g. that I would be better off dead; that s/he dreamt that I was dead; that suicide might be a reasonable alternative for me, etc.).

Practitioner insults parts of myself over which I have little or no control such as my physical characteristics and abilities, weight, race, gender, age, sexual orientation, hospitalization history, etc.

Practitioner insults other aspects of my life. She/he seems more interested in tearing me down than in building me up.

Practitioner threatens that if I don’t do what he/she says, I’ll never get better. Sometimes that feels right, sometimes it doesn’t.

The practitioner diminished the importance of a prior abusive treatment.

The practitioner refuses to address my current needs, always insisting that my current problems must be addressed by working with my earlier experiences.

The practitioner repeatedly yells at me in a loud voice.

I often say that I don’t think treatment is going very well and the practitioner brushes me off.

When I raise questions about what is happening in my treatment, the practitioner refuses to discuss the treatment process, how he/she works, what I can expect from the treatment, etc.

The practitioner would not tell me what his/her credentials are.

The practitioner misrepresented his/her credentials.

The practitioner advertised services that he/she was not qualified to deliver.

The practitioner uses drugs or alcohol with me.

The practitioner encouraged me to use drugs or alcohol, even though he/she knows that I have a history of troubles with drugs or alcohol.

The practitioner seemed drugged or drunk in sessions.

The practitioner and I used drugs or alcohol together during treatment sessions or office visits.

The practitioner insults me for having the problems I have.

The treatment ended without a termination process.

The treatment ended with me feeling very upset, and the practitioner didn’t suggest a referral to another practitioner.

The practitioner talked about me with other people without my permission.

The practitioner failed to carefully explain the limits of confidentiality.

Other aspects of the therapy process that didn’t feel right. Please describe:

Dual Roles

The practitioner is my clinical supervisor (or vice versa).

I work for the practitioner.

I work for the practitioner in exchange for treatment sessions.

The practitioner is/was my teacher, dissertation advisor, etc.

The practitioner and I are friends apart from the treatment.

The practitioner is a relative of mine.

The practitioner is a close friend of my family.

The practitioner and I are colleagues or peers in a work setting.

The practitioner and I are engaged in a joint business venture.

The practitioner has borrowed money from me.

Other dual roles. Please describe:

In Bodywork, Health Care, etc. Involving Physical Contact

This practitioner touches parts of my body that seem unrelated to the issues I’ve presented, and I don’t understand why. When I ask, I don’t get an adequate explanation.

This practitioner’s touches seem more like sexual caresses than the kind of touch that feels appropriate in a medical treatment or examination.

This practitioner’s hands seem to linger too long on my body during a physical examination or treatment.

This practitioner touches me in ways that hurt without preparing me for what will happen and without negotiating what my treatment or diagnostic alternatives might be.

This practitioner seems to enjoy the fact that some of the physical contact he/she initiates is painful to me.

This practitioner blames me for the health problems I have and acts as though I deserve them.

This practitioner seems hostile towards my body.

This practitioner makes comments of a sexualized nature about my body.

This practitioner has not asked me whether there are parts of my body that I would prefer not to have touched.

This practitioner does not explain what she/he is doing or what I should expect in an exam or treatment.

This practitioner leaves parts of my body uncovered after she/he has finished examining or treating those parts, even though I have requested that my body be covered except for those parts being treated or examined.

If I take a friend or advocate along when I see this practitioner, he/she addresses communication to that person rather than to me.

Copyright © 1998 BASTA! All rights reserved.


of []


Dr. T was a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Oakland, California. My boyfriend and I were in couples counseling at the time and Dr. T’s name was one of two that my couples therapist gave me when I told her I wanted to go back into individual counseling. She described Dr. T as “spiritual” (the quotation marks being evident in her tone), which at the time sounded like a good thing to me. My relationship with God or any other higher power left something to be desired (losing your mom at a young age will do that to you), and I thought maybe Dr. T could help me with that. I set up an appointment to meet him.

For more, read here

of []

An aid to discernment
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: December 31, 2013 06:46AM

"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize’ (Attributed to Voltaire)

We can revise this:

"To learn whether someone is no longer content to offer expert advice but now presumes to rule you, find out what happens if you disagree--and courteously persist in disagreement."

Dont become an inmate
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 18, 2014 09:36PM

Don't become an inmate.

If you have been seeing your therapist for 5 years or more, evaluate whether the problems that brought you into therapy are still there.

If so -- have you made progress.

If not? Why?

Two, note if the same clients are sharing the waiting room with you after all this time. If they are still there - why?

"You White People Deserve These Charlatans"
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 18, 2014 10:31PM

Posted by: corboy (
Date: January 18, 2014 06:21AM

On Redditt a person described how her therapist gave her a pamphlet and encouraged her to go to an Amma event.

submitted 2 years ago* by ilubooo

sorry, this has been archived and can no longer be voted on

My therapist has helped me through a lot, but lately she has been talking about this woman named Amma. I didn't really think much about it but then in my last session she gave me a pamphlet about her and told me that she is coming to Boston and I should go. Since she's my therapist I told her that I would check it out and go. Then I did my research and I found out that this woman has a growing cult following in north america.

Heres a link about her "cult following" I posted this link in another section of reddit, and someone suggested I report her to a licensing agency.

Should I report this woman for referring me to a cult? Or should I just let it go and stop seeing her?

Edit: I'm not going to report her, I plan on finding a new therapist. She was late to multiple sessions and she missed a bunch anyway so This just pushed it over the edge and I'm just gonna let it be and tell her I don't need her services.

Edit 2: I decided I'm going to print out that link and show it to her and tell her how I felt and how i considered reporting her, and then take it from there.

(This next post by illubo occurs much farther down on the original reddit post.Corboy has positioned it here because it supplies such important contextual information.)
[+]_vargas_ 315 points316 points317 points 2 years ago (35 children)
[–]_vargas_ 315 points316 points317 points 2 years ago

sorry, this has been archived and can no longer be voted on

If it turns out she is using her position to recruit her patients for a cult, she should have her license revoked.


[+]ilubooo 289 points290 points291 points 2 years ago (24 children)

sorry, this has been archived and can no longer be voted on

Well she is working the event too.

[+]thetoastmonster 352 points353 points354 points 2 years ago (13 children)
Ding ding ding ding ding ding!

[+]LexMortis 102 points103 points104 points 2 years ago (9 children)

Fork In The Garbage Disposal!

[+]Novelty_Accounts_Suc 29 points30 points31 points 2 years ago (0 children)


Even if the event wasn't a religious one, this is a conflict of interests and prohibited by the licensing board. Report her.

[+]SEA-Sysadmin 62 points63 points64 points 2 years ago (1 child)

Oh definitely. Report report report. This is somebody who is abusing the very people she is supposed to represent. This is like a doctor saying: don't get surgery, Benny Hinn is in town this week.

-(One person replied)
Yes, because not all her patients will do the same research and might actually be stupid enough to take her advice and join a cult.

EDIT: HANG ON, read wycks's response, turns out this actually isn't a cult and when you search Mata Amritanandamayi's name you get mostly far more positive results, this one article not being indicate of common opinion of her.

[–]NovaeDeArx 69 points70 points71 points 2 years ago

Report her

Absolutely. This is a massive, flagrant violation of a therapist's ethical boundaries.

My wife is a therapist, and a damn good one as far as I can tell. They are supposed to take ethical boundaries very seriously, as it is very easy to abuse the trust they are given.

A client says he/she is "falling for you"? End sessions, refer them to someone else.

You want to give advice soooooo bad, because your patient's problem is painfully obvious? Tough titty, that's not how therapy works. (Giving advice is a major no-no in therapy)

Want to refer someone to this great new thing you're just soooo into right now? Oh, hell no!

I suspect your therapist was "recruited" herself and is probably not fully aware of what a scam this group is. These kinds of cults usually treat potential recruiters (like your therapist) differently than the regular sheep, just to make sure they don't get disillusioned with the cult. Think how Scientology treats its celebrities (like gods) vs how it treats average suckers (like shit); same thing.

So: immediately report her behavior to the state licensing board (you can find out exactly how she's licensed easily- it should be hung in her office, or at least appended after her name on business cards, such as LPC). They will investigate a serious allegation like this immediately, and if she's lucky they'll let her off with probation and ethics classes as long as she gets the message that she screwed up and this was NOT OKAY.

Failing that, or if she crosses the line again, they'll take her license and she won't be able to abuse it any more.

Side note: the problem with therapists is that for every one that went to a good school and took it very seriously, etc, there are 10 that got certification by a "back door" route. For some reason, you can be an LPC (licensed counselor) both if you have a Masters focusing in Clinical Psychology, and also (depending on state) for nurses, teachers and social workers.

Obviously, there's going to be a huge variation in skill and training here, so be careful to ask what your therapist actually has a degree in.

[–]watyousay 98 points99 points100 points 2 years ago

That's not how cults work. Cults dont often sell themselves by being mean and bitchy. They sell themselves by being welcoming, by offering hope, a family, to the lost and disenfranchised.

When it comes to cults, phrases like "She seemed so happy" and "It all seemed so harmless, a first" are as ubiquitous as "He was a quiet man. Kept to himself mostly."..

[–]The_Adventurist 824 points825 points826 points 2 years ago

Cults primarily recruit people who are going through rough, transitory phases in their lives. An ideal recruiter would be a therapist.

Cult recruiters also often join support groups and recruit members from there.

Holy shit, that's horrible.

[–]The_Adventurist 331 points332 points333 points 2 years ago

It's what they do. They also schedule their cult meetings in the late evening, which is often when someone would be home with their families or out with friends, so that they don't have the opportunity to tell their friends and family what they have been up to. Otherwise, the friends and family of a prospective member might recognize that it's a cult and convince the person to stop going.

Cults do a lot of shady, brainwashy shit in order to get their members. They understand the human mind well and know how to play it

**(Corboy note: Late meetings are also an effective way to keep people up past their normal bed times. You'd be amazed how this can impair critical thinking. Its easy to keep people awake past their normal bedtimes. Have a night time meeting and then arrange for the speaker to arrive later than scheduled, and then talk over time.)

[+]TheCodexx 3 points4 points5 points 2 years ago (0 children)

I know and have heard of far too many people who take bad advice from therapists. They open up to them, take their advice, and believe they know what's best for their health. I've even heard what may be otherwise decent therapists giving bad advice because they only hear one side of a story and base it on that. A bad therapist can easily give terrible advice and one in a cult is a danger to all of their patients. We've seen how some cults can end and what even the best of them often do to their followers. I'd really hate to see people joining because they think it'll fix their problems

[–]RageMonkey262 120 points121 points122 points 2 years ago

Being reported doesn't mean the therapist will automatically lose her license or job. It means she probably will be investigated. If she does just need a hug and everything is ok, then the investigation will show this.

In the meantime, it will help her realize that she needs to be careful not to cross some lines.

The therapist is working the cult event. This also isnt the first time the therapist has mentioned Amma in therapy. She is handing out a stack of pamphlets to her patients. It is not acceptable for a therapist to push their religious views on their patients, regardless of intent. End of story.

[–]SolInvictus 94 points95 points96 points 2 years ago
Correct. Religious views have no place in the sessions of a licensed therapist.

[–]theworstnoveltyacct 51 points52 points53 points 2 years ago

I would probably have killed myself if this had happened to me.

I was on the verge of suicide while trying to leave the mormon cult. Although my therapist was mormon, he did not judge or push his views on me, and I thank him for saving my life.

It would seem silly now to kill myself over such a trivial thing, but people who need therapists are not reasonable.

[–]antiflyingmonkeys 444 points445 points446 points 2 years ago

Therapists should not impose any religious views, none the less a cult. I would report her simply because she is spreading her views to her patients. while you were able to see that it was a cult, other patients may not be able to.

[–]a_fleeting_glimpse 350 points351 points352 points 2 years ago

No kidding man.. my last therapist (because I ditched her) tried telling me that my last seizure was a result of "God" intervening....

I'm paying good money for science, not religion.

[–][deleted] 10 points11 points12 points 2 years ago

If a therapist is going to use religious views, ethically they have to include that information in an informed consent. Otherwise, they need to be reported.

[+]_vargas_ 315 points316 points317 points 2 years ago (35 children)

If it turns out she is using her position to recruit her patients for a cult, she should have her license revoked.
IThinkitsFunny 47 points48 points49 points 2 years ago

I saw amma once for a blog project. She's working for a good cause but yeah the whole thing seemed like a ploy to out of rich white hippies. Wouldn't go so far as to say its a cult but you therapist has no right to impose something like this on you.

Very unprofessional and potentially damaging to you've developed.

I suggest talking to her but honestly i think a professional who's doing this should be reported too.

[–]Miss0bvious 15 points16 points17 points 2 years ago

Yeah, as douchy as it seems, it's not a therapists place to be imposing their views upon their patients. Some of her other patients may be more impressionable, and/or won't do any research beforehand, and could easily be sucked in, especially since therapists are viewed somewhat as authority figures that can be trusted. I'm sure she means well, but at the same time, from skimming the article you linked to, it sounds like people who follow this lady end up giving her lots of money...I know of Christians who pretty much donate all the money they possibly can to various churches they attend to the point where it causes them financial issues, so it seems to me that if someone were to have some severe emotional problems and decided to follow this lady because their therapist recommended it, they could easily fall into a similar situation.

[+]kenposan 6 points7 points8 points 2 years ago (1 child)

Your counselor should not be discussing religious views with you unless it is something you initiated, and only then within the confines your specific issues. For her to bring up this Amma person and suggest you go see her is grossly inappropriate. As a social worker, I would never bring up religious views and certainly not suggest you see you see any religious figure, much less one that borders on cultland
i would:

a) discuss this with your therapist, and tell her that you plan to report her and why. she may (unlikely) be unaware that some people may find what she is doing offensive

b) follow through and report her

c) get a new therapist

[+]bismarck803 2 points3 points4 points 2 years ago (0 children)
I actually walked by the theatre she was at when i was in manhattan. The amount of people who were lined up to see her absolutely shocked me.

[+]disguisedmuel 2 points3 points4 points 2 years ago (0 children)
It doesn't matter if it's a cult or not, if you feel the referral was inappropriate or unprofessional (or even just made you feel uncomfortable) you should make some sort of complaint. Therapists have very high professional standards, and for good reason. If she even comes close to breaking those standards then something needs to be done about it.

nburghmatt did you read that whole thing? the woman sells magic toothbrushes to her followers.

[+]shiv52 As an Indian i want to say you white people deserve these charlatans. you gave us christanity and justin bieber we will give you shitty Indian saints/

Advice about how to report a religiously intrusive therapist
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: January 18, 2014 10:38PM

"This is weird, is she supposed to be doing this?"

One poster, married to a licensed therapist gives this tactical advice:

NovaeDeArx 3 points4 points5 points 2 years ago


"I know enough about how this stuff works to say: just tell the truth, and the board will investigate. Therapists, by nature, often deal with (gasp!) crazy motherfuckers from time to time. Some of them get a bug up their ass and call a fake "report" in. They know what to look into and what not to, and if it's a case of "stupid therapist that doesn't know better", a quick phone call from the board should stop that right there.

If part of the facts are that this woman is involved with the cult financially in any way, however, then it is a clear-cut violation of ethical boundaries. As in, so far over the line that you can't even see it anymore.

Just don't embellish, that's about it. Boards are far more receptive to [] "OMG EVIL CULT THERAPIST!", if simply because the first sounds much more responsible and plausible

Note how the later comments become invalidating as the Ammabots swarmed in.

The most clever one's follow this boilerplate

But its just a hug

I am an Indian and an atheist, but Amma seems to be doing lots of humanitarian work.

Oh, Amma is not such a big deal. Whats the harm in just trying it out?

(Corboy)Yeah, sure. If she's not such a big deal, why is she advertising to millions of people? Why are legions of 'em lining up around blocks to see her?

And why are all those Indian politicians posing with her in pix?

This article was two years before Gayatri Tredwell published her memoir Holy Hell, describing twenty years as an Amma disciple. Tredwell reported delivering gold to Amma's relatives.


More here:

(quote)[+]NovaeDeArx 3 points4 points5 points 2 years ago (0 children)

I know enough about how this stuff works to say: just tell the truth, and the board will investigate. Therapists, by nature, often deal with (gasp!) crazy motherfuckers from time to time. Some of them get a bug up their ass and call a fake "report" in. They know what to look into and what not to, and if it's a case of "stupid therapist that doesn't know better", a quick phone call from the board should stop that right there.

If part of the facts are that this woman is involved with the cult financially in any way, however, then it is a clear-cut violation of ethical boundaries. As in, so far over the line that you can't even see it anymore.

Just don't embellish, that's about it. Boards are far more receptive to "Hey, this is weird, is she supposed to be doing this?" than "OMG EVIL CULT THERAPIST!", if simply because the first sounds much more responsible and plausible.


Here is a very distressing post. This author's therapist stepped out of line by recommending Amma the hugging guru.

Early comments are valuable. Then, the Ammabots swarmed in. Some valuable advice is given and I will print some of it.

(Corboy note My former therapist did coyly ask whether I'd might consider going to see Amma and getting a hug.

He was clever. It was not a a direct recommendation of this guru, but a hint that he'd not mind at all were I to go investigate.

I refused.

Later, I researched my former therapists cult (guru led) and discovered one of its long time members had come into it via prior involvement with Amma.

Gateway drug, as it were.

It is WRONG for any therapist to recommend a guru, a belief system, a church.

Whatever the therapists own religion, that is to be kept on the therapist's side of the fence.

Therapist Keeps Reminding You When You were Down
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 04, 2014 02:47AM

One thing to examine is whether a therapist keeps reminding you of times when you were down in the dumps or suggesting you were out of control.

Ask yourself this:

If, after many years, I always pay my therapist on time and in full

* Am able to hold a job for more than 2 to 3 years

* Never call my therapist after hours making demands for immediate attention/services

* I have not been diagnosed with a major psychosis

* I never at any time threatened suicide, attempted suicide or been interested in suicide

* I never harmed or threatened to harm myself or others

* I have no history of abusing alcohol or drugs, no history of cutting, process addiction (gambling) or neglect of children or dependants

* Paid my rent on time

* I have not been harmed by a spouse or friend

* Never been hospitalized for a psychological issue and never been in the court system for anything more serious than an infraction, traffic ticket or for jury duty, or as a witness:

If you have this kind of stable background and yet your therapist is getting into a pattern of repeatedly reminding you of a time when you were in crisis during a session.

If you have been handling your issues well, yet your therapist from time to time reminds you of some situation where, according to the therapist, you were in crisis, especially if the therapist claims you were angry and seemingly almost out of control:

Be alert, and dare to ask yourself whether even a formely helpful therapist is starting to bust you down and that perhaps you are outgrowing therapy and its time to move on.

Ponder this especially if you have already been getting a feeling that therapy is at impasse and the therapist is not respecting your concerns.

If a therapist keeps reminding you of a time when you were (according to the therapist) seemingly on the verge of losing control or out of control and you cannot remember yourself being this way, look at the above questions.

Then ask yourself this:

*Did the therapist call the police?

*Did I need admission to any hospital?

*Did I need medication?

*After that episode, was I able walk out of the office, get into my car or to public transit, and function well during the following week?

And--was the therapist willing to continue working with me, after that episode?

If your seemingly out of control behavior didnt require intervention by the police, did not require hospitalization, or medication, and above all, if the therapist was willing to continue working with you--

your behavior could not have as dire as the theapist claims in retrospect that it was.

So if a therapist keeps reminding you of an incident where you were functioning at less than your best, yet you didnt need medication, hospitalization, a 911 call, and this same therapist was willing to keep working with you--

Feel free to step back and wonder why the therapist is rubbing your nose in this.

It may be you are getting strong enough to outgrow your therapist and he or she is not willing to admit it and is trying to bust you down.

Sort of like that song from Human League:

"You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, when I first met you"...

Yeah. But the fellow was willing to go out with her anyway.

Now he's annoyed she's become sophisticated enough to have a wider social horizon--and dump him.

So if you never were in danger of harming yourself or others, have handled crises in life responsibly, learned from mistakes and setbacks, and kept going forward, dont let someone, not even a previously helpful therapist, throw your past in your face.

Especially if you are already beginning to suspect that your therapist is no longer responsive--or worse, is pushing his or her religious or political beliefs and is refusing to take heed when you say you dont want to hear this stuff - thats not worth paying for.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/03/2023 01:29AM by corboy.

"The Successful Cult Member"
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 15, 2014 07:39AM

Joe Szimhart, who was once a member of a guru led cult (Elizabeth Claire Prophet's Church Universal and Triumphant) has an insider's perspective.

Here is his description of what he terms a successful cult member.

A psychotherapist who seems to function competantly in his or her profession but whose inner life is subordinated to the needs and whims of a guru might well resemble this description.



Stereotype 4. Cult members must be crazy.

Cult members almost never are crazy, nor have they broken with reality in a pathological way.... The successful cult member is one who can live in an intense world of overvalued, even bizarre rituals and ideas (my leader communicates with the dead, angels or flying saucer masters, and he can levitate and I will too someday), yet reality test fairly well in careers, chores and day to day affairs. Unsuccessful cult members either leave on their own (most do) because they either cannot live with the high demands (give me all your money and reject your family and their values), or they research and methodically apply doubt to (reality test) the doctrine, the leader's history, and the group's effectiveness. The rejected are either too intense or disobedient for the fringe sect to tolerate. Remember, most cults hold a high if misguided or bizarre standard of behavior and thought, often resulting in a closed system with "black and white" dominating their palettes. Destructive cult leaders tend to blame the victim-- they say members get crazy when they refuse to obey the doctrine or they practice the rituals improperly.

Persons who are crazy dont last long in most high demand groups.

Szimart notes:


Cults led by grandiose, paranoid or narcissistic leaders tend to abandon, reject or dismiss mentally ill cult members. I've been to many mental hospitals over the years to try to exit counsel rejected cult members who continue to believe and infuse the cult jargon into other disordered thoughts.



Cult leaders often have what psychiatry calls Axis II disorders or personality disorders with anti-social personality and narcissism on top of the list, in my view (I refer to the group therapy work of W. R. Bion).

Common to these leaders are mood disorders or swings, but they rarely reach pathological criteria so they are not ill in a clinical sense (Axis I disorders). In a word they are charismatic types whether they present as extroverts with hypo manic features or introverts with schizoid (withdrawn or paranoid) features. They tend to either be strong managers or have influence over authoritarian managers who run the group and protect, even help isolate the leader

(In the relatively small Emin group, most members or cells have never met the leader).

Pay attention to the little things
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: March 15, 2014 07:41AM

If you know you have grown up in a strange family and know that you tend to normalize/rationalize bizarre behavior, proceed with care.

If you are interviewing therapists, pay attention to anything or any action that is jarring or incongruous.

If a therapist dresses in a way that seems at odds with his or her personality, a heterosexual male therapist has office decor that seems weirdly girlish, like a honeymoon suite -- get outta there.

From an article by Temerlin and Temerlin
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 03, 2014 11:08PM

"When therapists limit their relationship with the client strictly to psychotherapy, much harm is avoided, and the idealization and dependency can then be worked through and resolved rather than lived out in the relationship."

Quoted from article below

Excerpts from this article is an electronic version of an article originally published in Cultic Studies Journal, 1986, Volume 3, Number 2, pages 234-242 . Please keep in mind that the pagination of this electronic reprint differs from that of the bound volume. This fact could affect how you enter bibliographic information in papers that you may write.

Some Hazards of the Therapeutic Relationship*

Jane W. Temerlin, M. S. W. Maurice K. Temerlin, Ph. D.


A hazard of long-term psychotherapy is the possible erosion of the boundaries of the therapist-client relationship. Previous work has shown how charismatic psychotherapists can so manipulate the therapeutic relationship that they produce groups which function much like destructive religious cults. This paper describes the intrapsychic and interpersonal processes which lead to a destructive erosion of therapeutic boundaries as observed in psychotherapy cults. Techniques used by cult therapists are grouped in four categories: those which a) increase dependence, b) increase isolation, c) reduce critical thinking capacity, and d) discourage termination of therapy.

III. Techniques which reduce critical thinking capacity

Denigrating intellectual activity as a method for solving personal problems by encouraging the client to "stop being intellectual" or by defining critical thinking as "being negative."

(Corboy: A therapist who is threatened by a client who is better educated and already possesses critical thinking skills may, over time, seek to persuade a client with these gifts that these are liabilities. )

**The therapist using this technique fails to distinguish between the clients use of the intellect (insightfully) to clarify and understand internal processes and using the intellect (defensively)to stop the experience of these processes.

(Corboy:A therapist whose guru has conned him or her into disowning critical thinking skills cannot support these same skills when exercised by clients.)

Encouraging the client to use therapy jargon.

Or…(Corboy) the therapist gradually substitutes religious or new age terminology and concepts for therapeutic concepts. Being a therapist and being a chaplain are different activities.

Encouraging faith in the therapy and the therapist rather than supporting the client's critical thinking and personal hypothesis-testing through experience.

Using vague, undefined terms and non-testable concepts in framing interpretations of phenomena.

Talking to the client in complicated sentences with internal contradictions, and then interpreting the client's attempts at clarification through questioning as resistance, or as a character defect.

One therapist, for example, typically responded to a client's questions with: "If I have to explain it, you couldn't understand it; you are just not ready to understand anything you have to ask me about."

Responding to the client's questions about him or herself by recommending chanting, meditation, exercises, or relaxation techniques while simultaneously ignoring the content of the question.

(Corboy: Suggesting a client deal with concerns not through insight into
psychodynamics (which is what therapy is for) and instead urging a client to ramp up his or her own spiritual practices is a subtle form of subversion. A therapist is* not* supposed to be one’s spiritual director. And, too often, use of chant and meditation may promote light trance states in a client, even when practicing these at home. In trance, one is less concerned with logical inconsistencies. This is useful when doing artistic creation, but disables us when we are trying to solve many real-world problems. Repeat, it is *not* a therapist's role to be a spiritual director -- and it is not what a therapist is licensed to do, either.)

Recommending that the client avoid confusion by avoiding the seminars, and workshops of other therapists.

Corboy :Discouraging a client who on own intiative, reads professional literature or articles on inner processes and psychotherapy.)

Redefining the client's problem in terms that the client cannot test or verify through observation and experience

. For example, one therapist refused see a couple together concerning marital problems because his diagnosis showed that each was "really" suffering from a trauma which occurred during the first year of life. What they considered to be marital problems were simply superficial symptoms. He then saw them separately for years of fruitless free association to uncover the pre-verbal trauma, without ever resolving the marital problems. They stayed with the therapist for a long time because each thought that his opinion was more valuable than their own.

IV. Techniques which seem to discourage termination of therapy

Gradually reversing roles by telling the client more and more about the therapist's own personal life and problems. (While clients were at first flattered and sometimes moved by such confidences, they began to modify their expectations of therapy and gradually started to protect and defend the therapist, putting his needs above their own.)

(One therapist rationalized this personal disclosure by claiming many of his clients had been traumatized, and benefitted from his being "more real" by telling them disclosures of his personal life. No, no, no. This is boundary violation. The state licensing board would not agree with this at all.)

Interpreting a wish to terminate therapy either as disloyalty to the therapist, or resistance to therapy itself.

Telling a client who wishes to terminate that he or she has made made positive changes but is not conscious of them at this time in therapy, and that they will appear with more therapy, later.

Telling a dissatisfied client who tries to terminate that the gains he or she has made are spurious, and that they will disappear if the client actually leaves.

Defining the goals of therapy or reframing the client's original goals, it vague, mystical, or non-referential terms, and then mentioning specific goals that have not yet been achieved when the client proposes termination.

Telling the client who starts to terminate with feelings of dissatisfaction that, as one therapist put it "I'm as good a therapist as there is; if you can't succeed with me, you'd be a disaster with anyone else."

(Corboy—Failing to inform client of affordable therapists in his or her area, making it seem the therapist is the only affordable option the person has. This undermines client autonomy and is not ethical.)

The authors conclude:

To some extent, idealization of, and dependence upon, a psychotherapist may be inherent in seeking help.

However, it is the erosion of the boundaries and limits of the relationship between therapist and client which makes exploitation of the idealization and dependency possible and harmful.

When therapists limit their relationship with the client strictly to psychotherapy, much harm is avoided, and the idealization and dependency can then be worked through and resolved rather than lived out in the relationship.

While most therapists are ethical, and many studies show that psychotherapy generally is helpful (Bergin & Lambert, 1978; Luborsky, et al., 1975, Meltzoff & Kornreich, 1970; Parloff et al., 1978; Smith & Glass, 1977), the combination of the techniques we described and the blurring of therapeutic boundaries by charismatic therapists can result in harm to vulnerable clients and

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