Our associates are consultants, psychotherapists, and counselors, many of whom themselves are former cultists or have been exposed to destructive cults or other coercive influence techniques. They have specialized training and/or experience working with people who may have been harmed by individuals and groups.

    Joseph F. Kelly, a graduate of Temple University, has been a thought reform consultant since 1988. He spent 14 years in two different eastern meditation groups. He has lectured extensively on cult-related topics, and is a co-author of “Ethical Standards for Thought Reform Consultants,” published in ICSA’s Cultic Studies Journal. He is the News Desk Editor of ICSA Today and sends out ICSA’s weekly News Desk e-mail. For many years, Mr. Kelly has also co-facilitated ICSA pre-conference workshops for ex-members. Recently, he helped to initiate ICSA’s monthly meeting in Philadelphia.



    Patrick Ryan

    Patrick Ryan has been a thought reform consultant since 1984. He is the founder and former head of TM-EX.  He was the AFF News editor from 1995 until 1998.  He has contributed to the Cult Observer and to the book Recovery from Cults.  He co-authored Ethical Standards for Thought Reform Consultants.  He has made many presentations at ICSA workshops and conferences.  He designs and maintains the ICSA websites.
    Patrick was awarded the ICSA Lifetime Achievement Award in Barcelona, 2011.  In his acceptance speech he said, “ I learned more and became more active in this field, I realized that ICSA's emphasis on respect, dialogue, and exploration of diverse perspectives so as to HELP people was essential to the long-term survival of this broad and varied movement to counter the harm caused by cultic groups.  That spirit of tolerance enables ICSA to bring into its broad tent people of very different religious, political, and philosophical perspectives.”
    In conversation, he expands on this viewpoint when asked what advice he might give to people who are trying to help those involved in cults: “Groups are different from time to time and place to place.  People are different from time to time and place to place.  What matters most is how a person interacts with a group at a particular time, not merely being ‘anti-cult.’  We can become a source of information if we stay open.”
    He encourages people who are considering exiting or in the process of exiting to “Find out why you want to leave.  Why isn't the group working for you?  What are your own particular reasons why you want to leave.”
    Patrick was introduced and became a member of Transcendental Meditation when he was just 17.  He had gone to write a story on TM and became enthralled.  Eventually, he attended and graduated from the Maharishi University with a degree in business.  He remained fully involved for 10 years, not leaving until age 27.
    Upon leaving he almost immediately began helping others exit.  He became an exit counselor and has continued in that profession for more than 20 years.  In his work he emphasizes relationship building and conflict resolution.  He finds it enjoyable to connect “with family – so much of what we do is to get families to understand the perspective their loved one has adopted, to fundamentally understand why the cult member loves what they love.”
    In addition to his work as a counselor, Patrick has many other talents, as cited by Michael Langone at the Barcelona conference when he received his award.  “He won a writing award for contributions to his high school newspaper.  He ran a million dollar business.  He has a passion for computers....He is a born entrepreneur....We salute him for the many years during which he has devoted his talents and time to ICSA and to helping others.”
    By Mary O'Connell. This article is an electronic version of an article originally published in ICSA Today, Vol. 02, No. 03, page 34. Please keep in mind that the pagination of this electronic reprint differs from that of the bound volume. This fact could affect how you enter bibliographic information in papers that you may write.

    Professional Profile
    Patrick Ryan (BA in Interdisciplinary Studies, Maharishi International University) is the founder and former head of TM-Ex, the organization of one-time members of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement. His association with AFF involves frequent attendance at conferences, where he is often a speaker, work with other ex-cult members, and a book about his personal experience, Recovery From Cults, to be published this August.

    TM recruiters were allowed into his high school in the mid-'70s, a time when the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was a frequent guest on the "Merv Griffin" and other TV shows. Mr. Ryan attended an informational meeting which led to a weekend, then a week, with "no privacy, endless tapes of chanting, meditation, and lectures." Mia Farrow's sister, Prudence, was one of the teachers. She and her husband attended MIU, to which she persuaded Mr. Ryan and 250 others to go for both "academics and enlightenment." `His five years there provided "a mixed bag academically."

    The school was accredited through the Ph.D. in various subjects, and because courses were taught by the "block system," good faculty could be brought in briefly for good pay. Out of three months, two were allotted for academics, one for meditating, sometimes as many a 7 hours a day for 7 days at a time. There was an average of 4 hours' trance-inducing activity per day, and all for academic credit.

    After graduating, Mr. Ryan worked a year for a Maharishi community. A family intervention when one of his sisters joined "a cult" (The Way) began his questioning process, and he started to see parallels in his situation. He sought insights from former TM-ers, and was further disillusioned. Several lawsuits against the organization exposed hitherto secret tales of "yogic flying," adding to its embarrassment. An attorney in one such suit urged Mr. Ryan to visit Dr. Margaret Singer, who put the "crowning touches" on his liberation. She sent him to a Cult Awareness Network conference where he met many families of TM members. Thus began his exit counseling career which, after he gave up a thriving import business, soon became full-time. He works with a variety of cult members, stressing that he does "no involuntaries."

    The young man once trained as a "spiritual warrior" for TM (a distinction reserved for heroic meditators, not the mere 20 minutes a day kind) is now an internationally recognized cult expert, relied on by families and media in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. He is also another of those AFF associates whose advice to law enforcement officials might, had it been heeded, have helped avert the Waco debacle.

    Patrick Ryan is a graduate of Maharishi International University. He has been a cult intervention specialist (exit counseling, mediation, religious conflict resolution, thought reform consulting) since 1984. Mr. Ryan is the co-founder TM-EX, the organization of ex-members of Transcendental Meditation. He established ICSA's online resource (1995-2013), and has presented 50 programs about hypnosis, inner-experience, trance-induction techniques, communicating with cult members, conversion, cult intervention, exit counseling, intervention assessment, mediation, religious conflict resolution, thought reform consultation, eastern groups, transcendental meditation and workshops for educators, families, former members and mental health professionals at ICSA workshops/conferences. Mr. Ryan received the AFF Achievement Award (1997) from AFF, the Leo J. Ryan "Distinguished Service Award" (1999) from the Leo J. Ryan Foundation, and a Lifetime Achievement Award (2011) from ICSA.