The role of self-care in cult recovery: issues for practitioners, members, and former members of cultic groups and their families

Dubrow-Marshall, LJ ORCID: and Dubrow-Marshall, R ORCID: 2017, 'The role of self-care in cult recovery: issues for practitioners, members, and former members of cultic groups and their families' , in: Cult recovery: a clinician's guide to working with former members and families , International Cultic Studies Association, Bonita Springs, Florida, USA, pp. 215-240.

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Although the need for psychoeducation to play an important part in helping former members of abusive groups or cults to recover from any harmful effects of their group involvement has been widely accepted (Langone, 1995), less attention has been given to the issue of self-care. Self-care has been widely discussed in medically related professions without a precise, commonly agreed-upon definition (Gantz, 1990). The term self-care is commonly referenced in modern literature as a process of increasing the responsibility for health to the person, from the medical professional (Lorig &Holman, 2003), and focusing on self-management of illness/health (e.g., Stanford Medicine’s [2016] Chronic Disease Self-Management Program). Amongst mental health practitioners, increasing emphasis has been placed upon practitioner self-care as a requirement for ethical practice, as reflected in the professional ethical codes (BACP, 2016; HCPC, 2016; APA, 2010; & BPS, 2009), with the responsibility to monitor one’s own fitness to practice and to take appropriate steps if one becomes impaired. The ethical code of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) defines care as “benevolent, responsible and competent attentiveness to someone’s needs, wellbeing and personal agency” (2016, p. 3) as a key personal moral quality, and BACP includes self-care within the self-respect principle as an ethical responsibility. In a literature review by Carroll, Gilroy, and Murra (1999), four clusters of self-care for psychotherapists were identified: intrapersonal work, interpersonal support, professional development and support, and physical recreational activities. To appreciate the significance of self-care by those working to help people recover from the adverse effects of abusive groups and relationships, “a good metaphor to consider is how on airplanes, we are instructed to first put an oxygen mask on ourselves before tending to our children, which can sound counterintuitive until reflecting on it” (Dubrow-Marshall, L., 2011, p. 8). In this chapter, we present an argument for including a focus on self-care in the treatment of people who are exiting abusive and coercive groups and relationships. We also expand upon this view to include the need for attention to self-care for practitioners working with this population, in that survivors of abusive groups and relationships present unique challenges and require specific responses, which can be exacting, and which go to the fundamental questions about the role of the therapist or mental health professional. We also focus on the families of current or former members of cults and abusive groups who may neglect their own needs while trying to help their loved ones, and for whom self-care is a vital tool in their survival and ability to help their family members. We therefore make suggestions for strategies for self-care that can be used by former cult members, both first generation (recruited) and second generation (born or raised in the group); mental health professionals and consultants working with former members; and the often long-suffering family members.

Item Type: Book Section
Editors: Goldberg, Lorna, Goldberg, William, Henry, Rosanne and Langone, Michael
Schools: Schools > School of Health Sciences
Publisher: International Cultic Studies Association
ISBN: 978-0931337093
Depositing User: Dr Linda Dubrow-Marshall
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2022 15:59
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2022 09:32

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