Intervention: What to do if a Loved One has Joined a Cult

Once you have hard evidence that your loved one is involved with a cult, staging an intervention is a smart course of action. You must, however, proceed with caution and understand the risks.
SocialMettle Staff
The Second Stage: Certainty

After careful inquiry, (as discussed in What to Do When You Suspect a Loved One Joined a Cult) observation, and research has led you to certainty that the group you are dealing with really is a cult, you may want to consider intervention for your loved one.

What is a Cult Intervention?

Cult intervention is all about education. The intent is to make the loved one aware of the fact that the cult is destructive. The effort presents the facts related to the recorded history of the group and its leader, revealing the harmful consequences of continued involvement with them. Another important part of the process is having a discussion about the typical persuasive methods and indoctrination patterns of cults. It is a conversation between the loved ones concerned, and an experienced hired professional.

According to cult expert Rick Ross, it is extremely important that the intervention use a completely different approach than the typical cult recruitment. This means that it should not use any manipulation, deception or coercion. The goal is to inform and discuss from a nonjudgmental point of view.

Why Intervention is Risky

The timing is very important. Waiting too long to act on the knowledge that your loved one is interacting with a cult can make the situation worse, as relationships between them and the other cult members and the leader will only strengthen over time. It is still possible to intervene later, but acting as soon as possible will increase the results of success.

Regardless of how long it takes to reach the certainty that you are dealing with a cult and decide to act, there is always a risk that your loved one will not accept what you have to say very readily. They may even become bitter and offended. If this happens, your loved one may further distance themselves and limit contact with you. In some cases they might disappear into the group without leaving a means of contacting them.

If the intervention does not have an immediate effect, do not worry. There is a chance that your loved one will reconsider the information presented to them, later in life. Spending more time with the group in light of the new knowledge may end up helping to convince them that their involvement has negative consequences. Be patient and hopeful that at least some of the messages did resonate with them.

Hiring the Help of a Cult Expert

It is strongly advised that a professional with experience in interventions assist with the process. If possible, hire someone who has dealt with the same group or a very similar group before. Consider the rate of success that the individual has had in the past when making a selection.

Compare different experts on the levels of experience, success rates (meaning how many people actually left cults because of their help), pricing, and availability before hiring.

Be as detailed as possible with the expert that you have hired. Ask as many questions as you have, and follow their advice. You are better off staging a successful cult intervention with someone who knows what they are doing.

Once the individual is free from the control of the cult, they will need to begin recovery, which is another process.