Preparation Before an Intervention
The following are some tips that we compiled for doing an intervention with a loved one or family member. We came up with this information based on our personal experience, material read from books and professional advice. We highly recommend that you seek the help of a professional, as it has the potential for being a very emotional or intense experience. There is a good chance that you may have been worried about your family member for some time now and you have been at a loss as to what to do. An intervention is a way to empower and educate both yourself and your loved one. The best you can do is stay calm, navigate through the emotions and be able to clearly and concisely educate your loved one about destructive cults.
1. Get the help of a professional.
The assistance of a professional during an intervention can be incredibly valuable. Ideally, the professional may be an ex-member of a cult who is also knowledgeable about how cults work from the inside. He or she may make suggestions as you plan your intervention and give you valuable feedback as to how you should behave and respond when speaking with your loved one. Also, the professional may take on the role of the “bad cop” during the intervention so that it frees you up to be more present and less emotional with the person you are trying to help. When interviewing a professional, check out his or her background and review website material. They should also be able to provide you with other valuable resources to educate yourself about cults and how they work.
2. Read as much as you can about destructive cults.
There are many great cult literature resources internet and at your local library. A good place to start is Combatting Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-selling Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults by Steve Hassan. You will learn about how cults operate, how the cult leader has created new personalities in his followers and how to prepare to speak with your loved one. Another great resource is the Mind Control Manual from David McDermott. In this guide, the author talks about the workings of mind control, manipulation and how psychopaths take advantage of other people. Other books and testimonials written by ex-members or thought reform professionals can also be useful. The goal is to educate yourself as much as possible in order to transfer the knowledge to your loved one.
3. Watch the cult videos under Resources on our website.
So many useful online videos exist on YouTube and beyond. Take advantage of this body of knowledge. The videos that we have listed on our website are all meant to educate you about the nature of destructive cults and psychopath. You can choose a few of the videos that really resonate with you and consider using them in your intervention. Consult with a professional when you are making the final decision. Think about what would make the most impact. We recommend that you start off by with a more benign and non-threatening video such as the documentary Captive Minds or the mind control demonstrations by Darren Brown.
4. Research as much as you can about the member’s group.
It is essential to get your facts straight about your loved one’s group. Go online and read the cult website if there is one. Get your hands on literature and brochures that directly come from the cult. The more you are able to educate yourself about the group, the better. You can also begin to make notes to show that there are discrepancies in the teaching. It will also provide you insight as to how the group recruits members and what may be initially appealing about joining the group.
5. Ask them questions about the group and gather as much information as possible.
It’s really helpful for you and the professional to know as much as possible about the inner workings of your loved one’s destructive cult. How long have they participated? What is the cult leader like? What are the doctrines or beliefs? Do you have examples of correspondence from the cult leader to his followers? Steve Hassan suggests that you engage with your loved one about their group in a non-threatening and unemotional way. Refrain from making judgments. Bring up questions with genuine interest and truly listen to their answers. You will learn a lot about how the group functions and their particular methods of mind control and hypnosis. This way, you may also be able to start to point out fallacies in the group’s though process later down the road.
6. Line up friends who care about the group member.
You may want to talk to some of your loved ones friends to come in for the intervention. They may have already expressed concern as well and wish to help out in some way. It is important to educate the friend how to talk to your loved one without challenging the cult. Bringing up judgments will only trigger your loved one and the concerned friend should realize that they will need to avoid creating that reaction. The friend may take part in a question and answer role after one of the videos are shown. Encourage the friend to read as much as possible and watch the online material about cults prior to the intervention. They could read the first chapter in David McDermott’s book or another resource from Steve Hassan. The friend can also take on a more supportive role, acting as a confidante or a person to have fun with during breaks in the intervention.
7. Have your loved one promise that they will commit for five days.
This is a very important point that needs to be made. When asking your loved one to commit to spending time with you, it is essential that you do not tell them completely what the program is about. Otherwise, they may try to contact their cult leader and be persuaded not to do it. Rather, create a certain level of excitement about how you wish to spend quality time with them. Express your genuine feelings that you want to connect with them and that you need their full attention.
8. Ask your loved one to not contact their group during the length of the intervention.
When you get them to not contact their group leader or members, make them promise that they will not see, call or email them. This is incredibly important, as any contact with group members during that time will trigger the cult identity and loyalty. They will be conflicted over learning about destructive cults and may want to leave the intervention. And remember, no contact means no contact. They cannot even see cult members for a casual lunch date or a quick phone call.
9. If you don’t have a strong connection with your loved one, work first on a better connection before the intervention.
Make sure that you are in a good place with your loved one before you start the intervention. Your bond with that person will carry you far through the difficult or tense times. You can then remind them that they are doing this for you. All you want is their undivided attention for five days and then they can make their own decision. Steve Hassan shared that back when he was in the Moonies cult, his family staged an intervention. His father began crying before Steve had committed to doing the intervention and this moved him.
10. Line up ex-members to talk to your loved one.
If you have access to any ex-members of the particular cult, this can be very useful. It’s good for your loved one to hear a different perspective from someone who has left the group and has been deprogrammed. They can tell your loved one about the true motivations of the cult leader. Be careful of inviting someone who has not been deprogrammed yet, as this may trigger the cult identity of your loved one and create some confusion or unnecessary tension. In your intervention, it may be best to invite the ex-member to speak around day three or later. This would give you plenty of time to prep your loved one with information on destructive cults.
11. Remember the good times before the cult and mention this to your loved one.
There was a life without the cult which members have a hard time imagining. One way to connect with your loved one is to spend quality moments with them and remind them of pre-cult times. Laugh, bond, talk and listen. Talk about people you know in common and get them to remember positive things about their family members and parents. Oftentimes, the cult demonizes the parents or over focuses on negative memories in order to keep the cult member trapped in their wounds. They wish to remove connection to a person’s past in order to form a new cult identity.
12. Role play the intervention ahead of time.
Finally, we recommend that you role play potential conversations that you may have with your loved one during the intervention. You may want to specifically role play what you will say to your loved one if he or she begins to feel triggered during the intervention. There is always a chance that your loved one will feel emotional or threatened by the whole situation. Be prepared as much as possible and practice what you will say in certain scenarios. For example, how will you deal with your loved one if they threaten to walk away? What would you say to your loved one if they are devastated by what they learn in the intervention? How do you calm their anger?
– Ruth & Karl
Photo Credit: Bob AuBuchon via Flickr