Monday, March 23, 2009
# 4 How to get my Loved One Out of the Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi
We cannot use Unethical Methods to get people out of cults
We would be using their unethical methods
The playing field is not level; they use unethical methods to get people in; we cannot use unethical methods to get them out. One of the principles of a cult is that the end justifies the means. We cannot do that. It is wrong, unethical. If we consider ourselves Christians we have to trust God and Grace, and believe the Holy Spirit still has some wriggle room. And Pray!
From professional Mental Health Cult Counselors
Covert Interventions and Professional Codes of Ethics
Q/ This topic has been discussed in the context of ethics of exit counseling, but I wanted to ask for people’s thoughts on this issue when such methods are employed by licensed mental health professionals bound by codes of ethics such as APA, NASW, or counseling who are in some way interacting with current cult members. Do people here think that MH professionals conducting covert interventions on people in cults violates professional ethics? By “covert intervention” I mean the professional interaction with someone in a cult without identifying self to the person with the family paying the professional to interact with the person and this not being disclosed. A more subtle form is employing covert communication techniques in an intervention with a cult member – in this case, the cult member knows who the professional is but is unaware of the techniques being used. Would either be considered a violation of professional ethics, in the opinion of people here? In addition to the issue of informed consent that is in all professional codes of ethics, what comes to mind for me is the core social work value of client self determination and how such an interaction may violate this. Even though it could be argued that the cult has already violated the person’s self-determination does that mean it is okay for the professional to do covert intervention? In my opinion, I don’t think it does and it is modeling cult manipulation. For this reason I have declined doing covert interventions since I have become a mental health professional because as a professional (and also as a human being) I no longer feel it is right.
A/ I was wondering when this issue would be brought up for discussion. Of course there are exit counselors who are not licensed mental health professionals who do covert interventions, but I am even uncomfortable with that situation. Both myself and X, who was my partner for many years in Int’l Churches of Christ interventions, were adamant with families that the cult member knew who we were and why the family had asked them to interact with us. We even struggled at times with the “surprise” aspect of the intervention and encouraged families to make sure that they fulfilled the stated purpose of the family getting together (family vacation, etc.). Intervention work is very difficult ethically at times! However, for a mental health professional to be covert in working with a cult member or to use techniques of communication that often times the cults themselves use, I have a very, very hard time with that. I don’t know how they can get around the ethics required for professionals. And for those who state that they use a “therapy” model for interventions, to me I have a question about whether any individual should have their informed consent for therapy usurped even in a cultic situation.