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Cult Experts Listing for Assistance and Support of Victims and Survivors of Cult Abuse

Cult Experts

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Listed on this page:

Steven Alan Hassan M.Ed, LMHC, NCC

Freedom of Mind Resource Center Inc.
716 Beacon Street #590443
Newton, Massachusetts  02459
Telephone:   (617) 396-4638
Fax: (617) 628-8153



Licensed mental health counselor, one of the first people to develop and do cult exit counseling, and author of three books on the subject of undue influence and destructive cults.

Combating Cult Mind Control (1988)

Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves (2000)

Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults, and Beliefs (2012)

His latest book, is in a new updated, 2nd edition. Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults and Beliefs

Arnaldo "Arnie" Lerma

6045 N 26th Road
Arlington, VA, 22207

"I have known Arnie Lerma for many years and admire his courage, intelligence, and dedication to helping people who have been victimized by Scientology. Arnie has assisted me several times in the past to help release the mind-controlled beliefs that Scientology programs into their member's minds. His knowledge and experience are invaluable to anyone wanting to help a loved one out of the cult as well as assisting ex-members as well as people who are thinking about leaving the group. I have worked with Arnie on Scientology cases in the past and look forward to working again with him in the future."

-- Steven Hassan M.Ed, LMHC, NCC

"Arnie Lerma specializes in assisting former members of Scientology with transition support, getting refunds and in evaluating if they should find a lawyer. Handling Scientology x member support and recovery is the most difficult of all x-cult member support and he more than deserves the very fair fees he charges to help defer his costs in Scientology x member in recovery support services.

Arnie can be totally trusted to effectively handle any Scientology ex-member problem. I have known him for 20 years."

-- Lawrence Wollersheim Co-Founder of Factnet

David Clark

Cult Expert, Exit Counselor, Former Member

P.O. Box 350
Pennsylvania 19081
Tel.: (610) 544-5830

David Clark is a former member of a Bible-based/occult group in southern California, is a court-certified cult expert, and has been an exit counselor for more than twenty years.

Carol Giambalvo

Cult Expert, Exit Counselor, Author, Lecturer - Thought Reform Consultant - AFF Project Outreach Coordinator, Director of Recovery - President, reFOCUS

P.O. Box 2180
Flagler Beach, FL 32136
Tel.: 904-439-7541 / Fax: 904-439-7537

Carol Giambalvo’s interest in cults and thought reform began in 1978 when her step-daughter began exhibiting a drastic personality change following becoming a devotee in ISKCON. She began researching cults and thought reform and lectured in local high schools, churches and civic organizations. The more information she gathered on the indoctrination processes and thought reform used in cults, the more concerns arose about her involvement in est and The Hunger Project.

In 1983, she and her husband, Noel, left their associations with est, The Hunger Project and Sterling Institute and began a personal search for information to aid their recovery process.

Since 1984, Carol has done exit counseling and writing in the field, as well as serving as director with several organization’s boards, organizing and conducting recovery workshops and working with hundreds of people who have walked away from destructive cults.


  • Hall of Fame Award, National Cult Awareness Network, 1991
  • 1993 Herbert L. Rosedale Humanitarian Award, AFF


  • Churches, temples, service organizations, high schools and universities (including N.Y.U., Columbia, University of Miami, Florida International University, University of Central Florida, Hofstra)
  • Appearances on national television: Morton Downey Jr. Show, Oprah, Canadian Broadcasting Network’s Fifth Estate documentary on The Hunger Project, CBS: For Our Times; Inside Edition, Today Show.
  • Many radio interviews, especially during the time of the Waco tragedy
  • Interviews and quotes in many newspapers, magazines and journal articles, including Psychiatric Times.


  • National Board of Directors, Cult Awareness Network (CAN) , 1988-91.
  • FOCUS (a support group for former cult members which became a committee of CAN in 1993), National Coordinator from 1986-90; Secretary, Board of Directors, 1990-94
  • reFOCUS, (a network of referral and support for former members of closed, high demand groups, relationships or cults) A co-founding board member, secretary, 11/94; president, 3/97 to present
  • AFF Board of Directors, 1995 to present; member of the Advisory Board, Chairperson of Thought Reform Consulting Committee, Coordinator of Project Outreach; Director of Recovery Programs, Advisory Board of AFF News.
  • CAN, New York/New Jersey affiliate (now known as the Cult Information Service),: Cult Information Service, P.O. Box 867, Teaneck, New Jersey 07666 (201) 833-1212 Executive Committee, 1985-91; Board of Directors, 1984-91.

Richard & Bonnie Woods

Counselors, Ex-members

Richard and Bonnie Woods

Ex-members of Scientology, the Woods are seeking to explain the truth regarding involvement with the group and to make their 8-year experience known.

Media services and pamphlets available.

Escape provides counseling and support group assistance to help people with psychotherapeutic cults, particularly Scientology.

Janja Lalich

Assistant Professor, Researcher, Author, Cult Expert, Former Member of a Political Cult

Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology
California State University, Chico
Chico, CA 95929-0445
Tel.: 530-898-5542 / Fax: 530-898-4571

Janja Lalich has a Ph.D. in Human and Organizational Systems and a Master's Degree in Human Development.

She is currently teaching full-time at California State University, Chico, but also serves as a resource to families, members, and former members; professionals such as laywers, educators, psychologists and social workers; and to the media.

She has appeared on "Meet the Press" and many other progams and documentaries on the cult phenomenon. She has lectured at universities and other forums across the country.

Her two most recent publications are Bounded Choice: True Believer and Charismatic Cults and Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships.

A former member of a political cult, DR. LALICH has focused her research on cultic political movements as well as other types of extremist groups, and has an overall interest in charismatic commitment and control.

With Margaret Singer she also co-authored Cults in our Midst and Crazy Therapies.


Colleen Russell, LMFT, CGP
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Certified Group Psychotherapist
Offices in San Anselmo, West Marin, Marin County, and San Francisco, CA
Colleen Russell is a CA Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Group Psychotherapist with over twenty years experience providing general psychotherapy, counseling, and consultations with individuals, couples, families and groups. She specializes in trauma, loss, high-demand group or cult education and recovery, including spiritually abusive groups and clergy abuse. She is also a former member of a high demand group in her early adulthood.
Ms. Russell works with former members,those born and/or raised in high demand groups, and families of a loved one currently involved. Phone sessions are offered for those out of the area.
Since 2003, Ms. Russell continues to facilitate a safe, successful Group for Former Members every other week in Marin, SF Bay Area. She has presented at the International Cultic Studies Association Conferences, the Northern California Group Psychotherapy Society, the Central Oregon Clinicians Network and other venues in California and Oregon. 
She also has published an article in Cultic Studies Review, 2010 Special Editions on Cults and Creativity entitled "Touched: Disconfirming Pathogenic Beliefs Internalized From Thought Reform Through the Process of Acting".

Allen Tate Wood

Cell phone: 603-380-1312

He has testified before congress on the illegal activities of the Moon organization 1976 The Fraser Report.

In 1978 he gave a deposition to the attorney general of the State of Minnesota on the illegal activities of the Unification church.

He testified before the supreme court in the State of New York in 1979 and 1981. His testimony was among those that helped put Sun Myung Moon behind bars.

In 1981 he testified on the stand for three days before Her Majesty's High Court in London England in the Daily Mail's battle against the English Unification Church.

He has written a book on my experiences in the Moonies: "MoonStruck: A Memoir of my life in A Cult" 1979. He has written three articles on the cult phenomenon. "My Four and a Half Years with The Lord of the Flies" published by the Princeton Spectrum in 1979, "Five Elements of Cult Counseling" published by the Advisor of the American Family Foundation in 1982 and "A Critique of Mr. Moon's Theory of History". This last article has been used by exit counselors all over the world for the last 20 years in helping people get free of the thrall of Mr. Moon.

He has been engaged in cult awareness education since 1975.

  • B.A. Psychology, Livingston College, Rutgers University 1977
  • Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor ,Texas 1987 California 1987
  • Permanent Part time Adult Education Instructor California

Dan Shaw, C.S.W.

Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

850 Seventh Avenue, Suite 906
New York, New York 10019
Tel./ Fax.: (212) 581-6658
152 Main Street, Nyack, New York 10960
Tel.: (845) 548-2561

Works with former members of cults and cultic groups, and friends and families of cult members.

His work in this area is connected to theories of malignant or pathological narcissism, and he has a special interest in working with those who have exited or who are exiting from destructive relationships with abusive teachers, partners, and significant others.

He is an allied professional member of the Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the American Psychological Association; faculty and clinical supervisor at and certified in adult psychoanalysis and psychotherapy by The National Institute for the Psychotherapies (NIP) in New York City; co-chair of the Education Committee of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP).

Read his essay, "Traumatic Abuse in Cults" completely free.

Joe Szimhart

Cult Expert, Exit Counselor, Media Consultant

Tel.: (610) 385-9454

Joe Szimhart is a cult information specialist and thought reform consultant whose work includes education, research, and non-coercive intervention regarding controversial, high-demand groups, psychotherapies, and relationships that use thought reform techniques.

He has personally helped many hundreds of people impacted by a wide spectrum of cult activity.

Since 1983 he has appeared on dozens of TV and radio programs worldwide and has been consulted by the media regularly, including 20/20, A Current Affair, and others.

Robert J. Lifton, Ph.D.

Cult Expert, Author Professor, Director

Tel.: (212) 237-8433

Robert J. Lifton is Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at City University of New York, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and the Graduate School and University Center and the Mount Sinai Medical Center.

He is also the Director of the Center on Violence and Human Survival at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Dr. Lifton held the Foundations' Fund Research Professorship of Psychiatry at Yale University for more than two decades.

He is the author of Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of "Brainwashing" in China, considered the basic text on the subject of thought reform and coercive persuasion.

Because his time is limited, Dr. Lifton may not be able to accept all requests.



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