For Professionals

Professional services

Our Approach

Wellspring's treatment plan involves a multifaceted approach to clinical care. Clients receive daily counseling and workshops from recovery professionals, most of whom themselves have been involved in exploitative groups or relationships.

Licensed counselors help clients reconstruct their experience and then place that experience within the framework of the time-tested coercive persuasion model articulated in the early 1960's by Dr. Robert J. Lifton in his work Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism. The workshops supplement the counseling sessions, further examining the dynamics of coercive manipulation.

Clients take a battery of tests including the MCMI-III, MCSDS Personal Reaction Inventory, BDI, STAI-Y, DES, IES, CSVO, PCMS, PCVS, GPA Scale,TPC, Adult Child Distortion Scale, and NIS. These tests are administered before and after treatment, and results are available to clients.


The Problem We Address

The problem we address is a result of abuse of power by an individual or group over another individual or group. This can take the form of domestic abuse (including emotional abuse), cult involvement, abuse by professionals such as therapists, clergy, teachers, etc., and even multi-level marketing scams. Many of our clients come to Wellspring after experiencing several different abusive situations. Our treatment model is effective in breaking the cycle of abuse that is often kept in play by the victim returning to the original or a subsequent abusive individual or group.

Since our program began in 1986, we have treated nearly 1,000 abuse survivors and reached thousands more through our on-site outpatient rehabilitation programs, phone consultations, seminars, conference presentations, and reference materials.

The problem we address is international. Our clients have come from North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Researchers and interns have also come from these continents to study our unique approach to successfully treating and thus liberating an abuse victim from the entanglement of his or her domineering environment.

While it is a well-known fact that domestic violence is increasing at an alarming rate, the magnitude of the cult problem is also staggering; the estimated membership in high-demand groups in the United States alone is well over 20 million. As a result of these abusive environments, many individuals experience long-term emotional pain and other psychological problems. Few of them understand the kind of the damage they have sustained.

Wellspring's founder, the late Dr. Paul Martin, and his colleagues have compiled years of documentation and research (1992) on the effects of cultic involvement. Studies revealed significantly high levels of anxiety, depression, and dependency. After two weeks of treatment and follow-up testing six months after clients left our treatment program, the high levels dropped significantly. Thus Wellspring's two-week counseling program has strong treatment outcomes.* Other research conducted later on the Wellspring data showed similar findings.

*Martin, P.R., Langone, M.D., Dole, A.A., & Wiltrout, J. (1992). Post-cult symptoms as measured by the MCMI before and after residential treatment. Cultic Studies Journal, 9 (2), 219-249.


Our Credentials

Wellspring is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Since its inception in 1986, Wellspring has provided over 25 years of exceptional care and treatment to more than 1,000 clients from North, South, and Central America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. The staff includes licensed professional counselors and cult education experts.

Outcome studies in peer review publications (1, 2) document the effectiveness of the program. Wellspring continues to participate in research and intern programs in conjunction with major universities and social scientists around the globe. The late Dr. Paul Martin, founder and CEO of Wellspring, was also a sought after legal expert in cases involving cult abuse, testifying in over 30 cases of cult litigation.

1. Martin, P.R., Langone, M.D., Dole, A.A, & Wiltrout, J. (1992). Post-cult symptoms as measured by the MCMI before and after residential treatment. Cultic Studies Journal, 9 (2), 219-249.

2. West, L.J., Martin, P.R. (1994). Pseudo-Identity and the Treatment of Personality Change in Victims of Captivity and Cults. In Steven Jay Lynn and Judith W. Rhue (Ed.), Dissociation: Clinical and Theoretical Perspectives (pp. 268-288). New York, NY: Guilford Press.


Warning Signs

Some survivors of coercive abuse don't realize they were involved in a cult because they have not previously understood what a cult really is, and because they had never been in such a situation before.

Cults and abusive relationships are much the same -- the victims have been deceived into thinking that they deserved the abuse, or that it was their own fault. Many who have been emotionally damaged in these types of situations are unaware that their struggles are related to their experience.

Below are some tips to help you identify an individual who is suffering as a result of coercive abuse.

  • Severe guilt. Even after they break physically and intellectually from the group or relationship, victims of abuse can suffer from debilitating guilt due to extreme emotional attachment to the group.
  • Abuse "hopping." The victim goes from one abusive group or person to another, or from one batterer to another.
  • Inability to stay away from the abusive group or individual. (The Battered Woman Syndrome.)
  • Vacillation between speaking very negatively and very positively about the abusive group or individual.
  • Family problems that were not present prior to the individual's involvement with the abuser.
  • Irrational sense that society is "out to get them." This may result from the cult's tendency to foster an "us vs. them" mentality.
  • Inability to think for himself or herself. Victims of exploitation are often deprecated to the point that they believe themselves to be incapable of sound decision-making.
  • Loss of a sense of purpose and zest for living which set in after involvement with the group or abuser.
  • Extreme fear of the supernatural, especially demons.
  • Fear of facing the future without God. Cult victims are often taught that to leave the group is to leave God.


Referral Information

Appropriate for Wellspring's program:

  • Those who were victims of coercion and psychological abuse (i.e., cults; abusive churches; other abusive, manipulative groups or relationships; and professional abuse from therapists, clergy, or teachers).
  • Those who have exited the group/relationship and who desire to receive treatment. Individuals who are capable of participating in a psycho-educational program.

Not Appropriate for Wellspring's program:

  • Those who are a danger to themselves/others and cannot contract to maintain adequate self-care.
  • Persons in the acute stages of co-morbid conditions such as substance abuse, psychosis, eating disorders, medical illness.
  • Individuals who have a medical/physical condition that cannot be properly monitored or treated within the environment of care or by the clinical staff of Wellspring.

If you have a client whom you believe would benefit from our program, please contact us.