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Foundations of Recovery: Welcome


Foundations of Recovery is the foundational course in our program for survivors of cults and other types of abusive, coercive, and controlling groups and relationships.

This course is primarily based on the work of Janja Lalich, PhD, a co-founder of this project, along with therapists Sally Martin, LCSW and Beth Matenaer, LPC, whose own past cultic experiences and education and training in the mental-health field bring completion to our recovery model. See the “Who Are We” section for more background on each of us.

Dr. Lalich’s book, Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships, has become a classic in this field, first written in 1994 and updated several times since. Plus, her original framework and theory described in Bounded Choice: Charismatic Cults and True Believers has made a significant contribution to the study and understanding of cultic groups and “charismatic” leaders.

In our courses, we use a psychoeducational teaching model. This includes short presentations on relevant concepts/issues, as well as ample time allotted for Question & Answer segments and participant observations. As with our other courses, we provide the course outline, short readings, and optional homework prior to each session.

This course includes 5 two-hour sessions (over 5 weeks) and costs $250. The maximum enrollment is 20-25 participants.

Foundations of Recovery: About
Image by Tim Mossholder

The purpose of the Foundations of Recovery course is to foster a deeper understanding of the structure and functioning of cults and other types of overly controlling groups, narcissistic relationships (including families), religious and spiritual abuse, and other types of related traumatic experiences.

These may emanate within a variety of settings (e.g., programs in what is now called the Troubled Teen Industry or TTI, multi-level marketing schemes, Internet-based communities founded on conspiracy theories, human trafficking, online “gurus,” and coaching, as well as religious, spiritual, New Age, and political organizations and groupings).

The effects of the deliberate and pervasive use of coercive and abusive power dynamics in those settings tend to be personal, psychological, emotional, social, sexual, and/or familial. Given that, we provide course participants with useful knowledge and skills that can be used to both deconstruct and analyze their experiences.

Our approach is to help you unpack your experience and lessen the impact on your life going forward. By gaining a deeper understanding of what happened to you, you will hopefully experience fewer triggers, less stress and anxiety, and therefore be able to self-regulate the effects of residual trauma responses – the goal being that the past no longer dominates or interferes with your daily life, your sleep, your work, and your plans, hopes, and dreams for the future.

Foundations of Recovery: About


  • Individual differences affecting recovery

  • Dr. Lalich’s bounded choice theory, including the concepts of personal closure and the illusion of choice

  • Common areas of post-cult adjustment

  • Coercive control and coercive influence

  • The neurobiology of trauma response

  • PTSD vs. CPTSD (Complex PTSD)

  • Post-cult challenges: personal, social, philosophical, work-related

  • Self-regulation skills and exercises

While each individual’s experience is unique, the manipulative techniques used are often the same or remarkably similar in their application and their effects on the individual. The exact manifestation of those effects is likely to differ from person to person. Yet, the knowledge and skills gained through the Foundations of Recovery course are intended to help each person find a path to healing and recovery.

We know that taking any course after this type of abuse can be scary and at times challenging. Thus, providing a safe learning environment is also important in the recovery process and is one of our priorities as facilitators. In that regard, we always welcome any feedback or learning about any concerns that you have while participating in this course.

Foundations of Recovery: Text
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After the course is finished, participants are sent an Evaluation Form (anonymous).

We hope that these are completed by everyone, as we very much look forward to feedback so that we can continually improve our courses.

Janja, Beth and Sally are looking forward to embarking on this journey with you.  Thank you for your interest.

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This series spans over five Saturdays during the following times:
Eastern Standard Time: 12pm-2pm
Central, Standard Time: 11am-1pm
Mountain Standard Time: 10am-12pm
Pacific Standard Time: 9am-11am

Foundations of Recovery: List
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