– Member of the “Health, Ethics and Ideologies” Commission of the Espace Ethique Méditerranéen.
The use of psychotherapy in the case of cult influence
- To introduce this presentation, Didier PACHOUD, the President of GEMPPI, cites a few examples of techniques or theories used by some psycho – cults : physiology, psychogenealogy and the idolisation of hyperactive children, known as “Indigo Children” in the KYREON group.
- Dr. Armogathe then set the problem of psychotherapeutic deviations back into its current context in France: according to the last MIVILUDES report, psychotherapy, along with professional training, constitutes the favoured means of expansion within cults. He also recalled that some therapists, particularly those of a New Age persuasion, misused certain well-known principles in order to gain a hold over their patients.
- The speaker then put forward a definition of the word ‘psychotherapy’: a verbal technique or a technique performed through the body using speech. This technique is applied to a subject upon request, for their well-being with regard to their personality and freedom. It should be used with expertise and in accordance with good ethical practice.
- Dr. Armogathe carried on by detailing the different types of therapy, listed according to their technical classification. He stated a preference for a classification system being drawn up according to the psychological theory of reference being used in the type of therapy, and according to the conceptual models of the psychic dynamic of his actions.
- While refusing to systematically lump together psychotherapy and cults, the speaker clearly recognised that some kinds of psychotherapy had become, in a guru’s hands, tools for mental imprisonment and appropriating suffering to the benefit of the guru or of cult organisations. Deviations can be put down to the therapist’s incompetence, his lack of respect for codes of practice and to his lack of ethics. According to him, the main danger remains in using transference and counter-transference techniques in order to pervert the principles laid out in the above definition.
- Dr. Armogathe finished by asking what signals can we put into place in order to avoid such deviations. He returned to the ACCOYER amendment (2003) aimed at monitoring the psychotherapy profession and to the issues arising from this.
- He then presented his own proposals made around three areas:
- the creation of a free psychotherapists’ register,
- drawing up a code of practice,
- and the possibility of being struck off the register if found deviating from this code.
- Dr. Armogathe concluded by focussing on the legislation involving this code of practice and on transparency rather than on coercion.
.Debate: A round table discussion on the status of psychology professions in different European countries showed an absence of regulations for the psychotherapy profession, along with all the dangers arising from this fact in almost all these countries.