New Religious Movements and Counselling: Academic, Professional and Personal Perspectives, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

New Religious Movements and Counselling

Academic, Professional and Personal Perspectives, 1st Edition

Edited by Sarah Harvey, Silke Steidinger, James A. Beckford


248 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2017-12-27
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There are many different ways in which minority religions and counselling may interact. In some cases there can be antagonism between counselling services and minority religions, with each suspecting they are ideologically threatened by the other, but it can be argued that the most common relationship is one of ignorance – mental health professionals do not pay much attention to religion and often do not ask or consider their client’s religious affiliation. To date, the understanding of this relationship has focused on the ‘anti-cult movement’ and the perceived need for members of minority religions to undergo some form of ‘exit counselling’. In line with the series, this volume takes a non-judgemental approach and instead highlights the variety of issues, religious groups and counselling approaches that are relevant at the interface between minority religion and counselling.

The volume is divided into four parts: Part I offers perspectives on counselling from different professions; Part II offers chapters from the field leaders directly involved in counselling former members of minority religions; Part III offers unique personal accounts by members and former members of a number of different new religions; while Part IV offers chapters on some of the most pertinent current issues in the counselling/minority religions fields, written by new and established academics. In every section, the volume seeks to explore different permutations of the counsellor-client relationship when religious identities are taken into account. This includes not only ‘secular’ therapists counselling former members of religion, but the complexities of the former member turned counsellor, as well as counselling practised both within religious movements and by religious movements that offer counselling services to the ‘outside’ world.

Table of Contents

1 Minority Religions and Counselling: An Overview

James A. Beckford and Sarah Harvey


Part I: Perspectives on Counselling

2 From the Curious to the Criminal: Diocesan Advisers' Requests for Counsel and Help

Pedr Beckley

3 Enlightened or insane? Insights and dilemmas of wearing a psychotherapist’s hat and a sociological hat in the field of new religious movements

Silke Steidinger

4 New Religious Movements and Systemic/Family Psychotherapy

Alastair Pearson


Part II: Practitioners’ Approaches

5 Therapy with Former Members of Destructive Cults

Lorna Goldberg

6 The Psychological Development and Consequences of Involvement with New Religious Movements: Counselling Issues for Members, Former Members and Families

Linda Dubrow-Marshall and Roderick Dubrow-Marshall

7 Show the Fly the Way Out of the Fly Bottle: Using Art and Philosophy to Counsel Those Impacted by Controversial New Social Movements

Joseph Szimhart


Part III: Member and Former Member Experiences

8 Pagan Experiences of Counselling and Therapy

Vivianne Crowley

9 Scientology Auditing: pastoral counselling or a religious path to total spiritual freedom

Eric Roux

10 How Counselling can Help Faith and Families

Simon Cooper

11 Counselling practices within The Family International (Children of God)

Abi Freeman

12 Scammers or Saviours?

Nicola Laaninen

13 Mindfulness and the YouTube Channel of the Mind



Part IV: Some Current Issues in the Counselling Field

14 Emotional Exchange: Anxiety to Hope in Two New Religious Movements

Charlotte Shaw

15 Attachment: Buddha and Bowlby

Joe Copestake

16 Twelve Step Mutual Aid: Spirituality, Vulnerability and Recovery

Wendy Dossett

About the Editors

Sarah Harvey, Researcher at Inform since 2001, has an undergraduate degree from the University of Manchester in Comparative Religion and Social Anthropology and a Masters degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Social Research Methods (Sociology). She is studying for her PhD at the School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent, UK, on the subject of ‘natural’ childbirth. She is co-editor, with Dr Suzanne Newcombe (2013) Prophecy in the New Millennium: When Prophecies Persist Aldershot: Ashgate, has guest-edited a special issue of The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies (volume 11, no. 1, 2009), and has written numerous other encyclopaedia entries and short articles.

Silke Steidinger has been an Assistant Research Officer at Inform since 2006. The primary focus of her work is researching religious groups for the Inform database and cataloguing the Inform library. In 2004, she received an MSc in Religion in Contemporary Society (Sociology) from the London School of Economics, the focus of her dissertation being on death in New Religious Movements. In 1999, she received a BA (Hons) in Religious Studies from King’s College London. She has been practising as a UKCP registered attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapist (qualified at The Bowlby Centre in 2014) and has worked at Tower Hamlets National Health Service Personality Disorders Service since 2014. Currently she is doing an MA in Information Experience Design at The Royal College of Art, UK.

James A. Beckford, a Fellow of the British Academy, is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Warwick, UK, Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors of Inform and a former President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. His main research interests are chaplaincies and relations between religion and the state. His publications include Cult Controversies (1985), Religion in Prison. Equal Rites in a Multi-Faith Society (1998, with Sophie Gilliat), Social Theory and Religion (2003), Muslims in Prison: Challenge and Change in Britain and France (2005, with D. Joly and F. Khosrokhavar), The SAGE Handbook of the Sociology of Religion (2007, edited with N.J. Demerath III) and Migration and Religion (2 edited volumes, 2015).

About the Series

Routledge Inform Series on Minority Religions and Spiritual Movements

Inform is an independent charity that collects and disseminates accurate, balanced and up-to-date information about minority religious and spiritual movements.

The Routledge Inform Series addresses themes related to new religions, many of which have been the topics of Inform seminars. The series editorial board consists of internationally renowned scholars in the field.

Books in the series will attract both an academic and interested general readership, particularly in the areas of Religious Studies, and the Sociology of Religion and Theology.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / Counseling
RELIGION / General
RELIGION / Counseling