Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation (PhD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Brent T. Williams

Committee Member

Tanya R. Owen

Second Committee Member

Mary A. Ramey

Third Committee Member

Stephanie L. Lusk


Social sciences, Education, Cults, Disabilities, Employment, Rehabilitation, Trauma


Currently, the majority of studies published on cult membership have been quantitative and have focused primarily on theories and trends about cult membership. These studies have been insufficient in shedding light on the individual’s experience. Qualitative studies are necessary to explore the individual’s accounts of their experiences with past cult involvement and the impact these experiences have on employment. Because of the potential vocational impacts of cult involvement, it is valuable to explore the psychoSocial aspects of work. A qualitative methodology informed by phenomenology was utilized to investigate the unique experience of individuals obtaining employment after leaving a cult. Seven essential themes were found through data analysis: hiding the past, fear, application difficulties, difficulty obtaining employment, inability to maintain employment, talking it out, and symptoms of psychiatric disabilities.