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Deconditioning, Deprogramming & Exit Coaching
Getting Out © Martyn Carruthers

Online Life Coaching, Counseling & Therapy

Abrupt and sometimes frightening personality changes may indicate involvement with groups that use psychological techniques generally called coercive influence, brainwashing or mind control, to recruit and keep members.

This article is about and for people who want to leave religious, military, political or commercial groups, in which the leaders or group members control their lives and attempt to resist their leaving by creating psychological bonds. Such groups may use harassment and blackmail or threats of imprisonment and torture. Some populations are subject to egocentric, ethnocentric and xenophobic propaganda.

Our solutions are also useful for people whose friends or family are involved in such groups, or who obsess about such groups and their activities, and who wish freedom from obsession.

Words like extremist, cult and sect are difficult to define. Many businesses, militaries, governments and professional associations can be described as extremist - and people admiring one religion may describe all other religions as cults and sects. (Cults promote a new religion or a new interpretation of an established religion, while sects are groups that have broken away from an established religion, often in protest against what they see as corruption or impure doctrine. Encyclopedia Encarta 2003.)

Brainwashing and conditioning involves installing beliefs. Examples are: "Only we know the truth", "Anyone who attacks us is insane or criminal", "Thinking is evil" and "Criticism is proof of sickness". Many extremist groups attempt to place their leaders (living or dead) as substitute high-authority "parents" in the minds of the membership (father-gods and mother-goddesses), and the group membership are often presented as (and even called) brothers and sisters. Connections to family and former friends are often strongly discouraged. Members may then feel tremendous guilt if they even consider leaving their "sacred new family". However, such people are typically unaware that they have been influenced, and often support their manipulators.

Coercive psychological influence overcomes critical thinking and free will. Victims cannot make independent decisions or exercise informed consent. Coercive influence takes several forms...

  1. Increase suggestibility with repeated activities, sleep deprivation and/or nutritional restrictions
  2. Control social environment and/or enforce social isolation
  3. Control communication and/or prohibit disconfirming information and opinions
  4. Destabilize consciousness, awareness and/or emotional defenses
  5. Undermine self-confidence and/or decision-making
  6. Create aversive emotions with humiliation, loss of privilege and/or isolation etc
  7. Intimidate with group-sanctioned psychological threats

Coercive influence is commonly used by manipulative sects, military organizations and totalitarian governments. If government sanctioned, extremist groups may evade exposure and prosecution for false imprisonment, involuntary servitude, intentional emotional distress and other tortuous acts.

Coercive mental conditioning; was once fought with "deconditioning" and "deprogramming"; words associated with illegal, coercive techniques used to counter brainwashing. These often-brutal methods included abductions, sleep deprivation, sensory overload, condemnations, isolation and sometimes physical confinement. Although some ex-cult-members have testified that these methods released them from "invisible prisons"; others successfully sued the deprogrammers. Coercive deprogramming involves considerable legal and psychological risk; and we do not provide, support or recommend such methods.

A deep understanding of human relationships provides safe alternatives. Exit Coaching gently helps distressed people stabilize emotions, communicate effectively and build healthy relationships.

Dependent Relationships . Space for Love . Soulwork Review

Exit Coaching

Coercive persuasion used by extremist groups is more likely to be emotional than intellectual. Their activities often involve relationships and rituals while dismissing intellectual analysis. Hence Exit Coaching evaluates and fundamentally changes emotionally charged relationships, while assisting people to evaluate factual information about the group they wish to leave.

Exit Coaching is for people who choose freedom from previous bonds. It is gentle, direct, intensive and time-limited. It emphasizes respectfully sharing information, and it should not be rushed. The keys to regaining freedom of thought and action are: rebuilding trust, dissolving guilt, improving important relationships and finding worthwhile life goals.

Exit Coaching is available during regular office visits, or during intensive multi-day coaching sessions. The total time depends mostly on a person's motivation to be part of the culture in which he or she lives. Often a person changes their lifestyle (their mini-culture) to suit their own goals.

As most extremist groups make sanctions against or about relationship activity, Exit Coaching provides solutions that support healthy relationships. (If the group supported promiscuous sex, then sexually transmitted diseases and/or unwanted pregnancies and/or abortions may complicate this work.)

Coaching Sexual Issues . Solutions for Sexual Issues . After Abortion

Exit Coaching typically costs $2,500 to $5,000 US. This would cover three 2-hour office visits per week for 6-12 weeks (36-72 contact hours) or 3-5 days of intensive coaching sessions (24-48 contact hours) at your location. Long-term follow-up (after a few months) is available.

Exit coaching is for motivated, responsible people who wish to change relationships and end obsessions with specified groups. Rapid and effective Exit Coaching requires:

  •  A motivated client who is well rested, alert, responsible and thinking clearly
  •  The involvement of as many family members and former-friends as possible
  •  Family members and friends contribute respectful, honest communication
  •  All involved are ready to make informed decisions about their relationships

Exit Coaching supports further changework for resolving traumatic and ritual abuse, substance addictions, existential crisis, etc.

Exit Coaching is provided by Martyn Carruthers and trained systemic coaches.

Helping professionals, trainers and coaches who wish to learn Systemic Solutions may attend experiential workshops, which are also applicable for ex-cult members who wish to redefine and renew their lives.

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Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 2002- 2018
All rights reserved.

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Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email