1st Edition

Walking Free from the Trauma of Coercive, Cultic and Spiritual Abuse A Workbook for Recovery and Growth

By Gillie Jenkinson Copyright 2023
    354 Pages 81 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    354 Pages 81 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This is an interactive self-help workbook and psychological road map to enable survivors of coercive, cultic and spiritual abuse to find healing, recovery and growth.

    This book provides a comprehensive guide to recovery, based on a tested model of post-cult counselling, and years of research and clinical experience. It is designed to help survivors of diverse abusive settings, including religious and spiritual, political, gangs, business, therapy and wellness and one-on-one relationships. The reader follows a beautifully illustrated journey through four Phases of recovery and growth, one Milestone at a time, to make sense of what has happened to them, learn how to walk free from psychological control and find resources for healing. The author includes stories from her own experience, detailing her path towards recovery and how she learned to come to terms with and overcome what happened to her.

    Written in accessible language, this workbook serves as both a self-help book for survivors and former members, and a guide for therapists working with them.

    Part One: Setting the scene Part Two: Who am I? Part Three: Preparing for the journey Part Four: The Walking Free journey Region 1: Leave physically so you can begin to recover psychologically Milestone 1: Leaving physically Region 2: Leaving psychologically Milestone 2: Face your doubts Milestone 3: Diagnose your group or relationship Milestone 4: How confluent were you? Milestone 5: Introjects, critical thinking and phobias milestone 6: Who are YOU? Milestone 7: Understanding traumatic stress Milestone 8: Boundary-setting assertive anger – and rage Milestone 9: Healthy self-love Milestone 10: Thought reform Milestone 11: Recognising other controlling dynamics Milestone 12: Unmasking the leader Region 3: Heal emotionally Milestone 13: Emotional healing Region 4: Walking Free Milestone 14: Reflections Milestone 15: Moving on and Walking Free! Part Five: Seeking therapy Part Six: Advice for therapists


    Gillie Jenkinson, PhD, is an accredited psychotherapist, international speaker and a director of Hope Valley Counselling. For over 25 years she has specialised, as therapist, researcher and trainer, in the challenges faced by those who have experienced coercive, cultic and spiritual abuse.

    ‘The world today is experiencing a massive proliferation of destructive cultic groups - religious, political, terrorist, commercial, self-help, healing, recovery, and many other kinds of groups that use deceptive recruitment tactics and coercive control of members. To the very few books meant to help those leaving cults, Dr. Jenkinson adds this comprehensive and essential volume. Having herself traversed the daunting path from traumatic abuse in a cult to freedom and recovery, Dr. Jenkinson offers the reader decades of wisdom gleaned from her therapeutic work with survivors, distilled into this eminently readable and usable volume. Both survivors and therapists alike will welcome and treasure this essential and urgently needed addition to the cult recovery literature.’

    Daniel Shaw, psychoanalyst and author of Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation and Traumatic Narcissism and Recovery: Leaving the Prison of Shame and Fear

    ‘Gillie Jenkinson has provided former members and those who counsel them with a unique gift, which will profoundly impact the recovery field. After leaving cult life's cognitive and emotional confusion, Dr. Jenkinson uses the perfect grounding metaphor of a physical journey (with illustrations) to give former cult members a step-by-step ‘psychological roadmap’. Like the best kind of guide, she offers wisdom gained from her own cult experience and her years as a therapist in the cult recovery field. With each step forward, as the ‘fog’ of cult life begins to clear, former members can finally arrive at a place where they gain their authentic identity with a wide range of feelings and a clearer sense of reality. This workbook is a remarkable achievement.’

    Lorna Goldberg, LCSW, PsyA, Past President, International Cultic Studies Association and Director, Institute for Psychoanalytic Studies

    ‘Dr. Gillie Jenkinson is one of the most thoughtful and insightful clinicians in the cultic studies field. In this book, she applies her personal experience and many years of research and clinical work to construct a practical workbook for people leaving cultic groups. This is not simply an explanation of why people join and leave cults. The book provides what would be called ‘homework’ in some counseling approaches. It is interactive and asks ‘participants’ (they are much more than readers) to think and write, to complete forms, to wrestle with their memories, thoughts, and goals for the future. ‘Participating’ in this handbook could be worth thousands of dollars in consultation time. The book is a wonderful resource, especially for those former members who do not have the resources to travel and pay for professional consultation. I recommend it highly.’

    Michael D. Langone, PhD, Executive Director, International Cultic Studies Association

    ‘This is a unique book and should be essential reading. It was forged in the fire of painful experience and refined by a keen mind. Gillie offers a clear pathway enabling others to make their own choices and find their own freedom. It is a remarkable story of personal transformation and hope.’

    Alistair Ross, Associate Professor, Psychotherapy, Oxford University

    ‘Dr. Gillie Jenkinson is a professional I know and trust. Her work has helped in the education, awareness and healing of countless people.’

    Steven Hassan, PhD, MA, MEd, LMHC, NCC, Freedom of Mind Resource Center, Inc.

    ‘This valuable book is a sensitively written, practical guide to cult recovery. Based on her own experiences, first as a former member, and then as a therapist specializing in cult recovery, Dr. Jenkinson shares her knowledge and offers guidance for the difficult process of integrating into the non-cult world in a healthy way.’

    Alexandra Stein, PhD, visiting research fellow, London South Bank University

    ‘There is a new tool to help former cult members and other survivors of abusive groups and relationships, and I will be recommending it to every former cult member who consults with me. In this ground-breaking book, Gillie Jenkinson literally takes her readers on a step-by-step journey to recovery. She doesn’t use jargon and she doesn’t list aspirational goals and leave the ‘how’ to the reader’s imagination. Instead, she offers clear exercises and examples that untangle the process of recovery. The whimsical illustrations help the reader to visualize the recommended steps and invite the reader to participate. I recommend this workbook without reservation.’

    Bill Goldberg, clinical social worker and psychoanalyst, formerly Program Supervisor for Rehabilitative Services for Rockland County, New York (retired)