Scientology Marriage Counseling Comes Down to This: “What Have You Done to Tom?”


NEW: Even stranger secrets of Scientology marriage counseling! Also, see all of our most recent stories detailing the multiple crises facing the church.

Since news of the Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise divorce filing broke last week, media outlets have been scrambling to put together basic information about Scientology, which appears to be central to the couple’s split.

We couldn’t help notice that numerous news organizations have been relying on Scientology’s official websites and spokespeople for generic and bland language about how church couples are encouraged to go through counseling rather than divorce. Here’s a sample, from

The Church of Scientology…is much clearer on the rituals and practices of marriage than it is on divorce, according to experts and the church’s own official website.

Rather than focus on divorce, the church concentrates on improving couples’ relationships through therapy.

Gosh, that sounds downright heartwarming.

As usual, however, the inability — or unwillingness — of most news organizations to actually dig down into what Scientology is and how it works, leaves out the best part of the story.

Which is this: Scientology marriage counseling is as bizarre and disturbing as you might expect.

It’s always a good idea, if you want to know what really happens in Scientology, to bypass the spokespeople and the official websites and instead go directly to the source.

Source, of course, being L. Ron Hubbard.

Scientology’s founder has been dead since 1986, but the thousands and thousands of policies he wrote that govern every detail of life in the church are still sacrosanct and must be followed to the letter. (This is why, in Scientology videos, you see officials going on endlessly about how “standardly” they’ve delivered services — they strive to follow Hubbard’s words without any deviation.)

In 1980, Hubbard laid down the policy for how to perform Scientology marriage counseling. (Hubbard himself had been married three times and was briefly a bigamist in the 1940s.)

Below, you will find Hubbard’s detailed instructions for how a couple is to be audited with the use of an e-meter in order to save their marriage. It’s precise and detailed, down to the positions where each of the three people should sit.

But as usual, when you drill down to what is actually supposed to take place as the auditor asks questions, the process is incredibly simple-minded.

In this case, if Katie Holmes actually agreed to be subjected to this, she would be sat down, asked to hold the sensors of an e-meter, and with Tom Cruise watching, she would be asked over and over and over again, just two questions:

“What have you done to Tom?”


“What have you withheld from Tom?”

These questions would be asked until Katie had unburdened herself of numerous secrets she’s been holding back and the needle on the e-meter is “floating,” indicating that she’s told all she knows. This can take hours.

Then it’s Tom’s turn.

According to a 2006 price list that was smuggled to the ‘net, this process would cost a Scientology couple $5,687 for a 12.5-hour block of auditing ($4,550 for IAS Lifetime members).

“Many, many marriages at the brink of divorce have been successfully salvaged with the help of this processing,” Hubbard writes.

As his policy indicates, Scientology made a film, The Married Couple, to show how this process should look. It was made in 1988, but then in about the year 2000, it was reshot and updated.

Marc Headley worked on that film, and told me what it portrays. In 2005, Headley escaped from Scientology’s International Base east of Los Angeles, and wrote about his experiences working there in his book Blown for Good.

“In the film the husband has a gambling problem, and the wife says screw you, I’m out of here,” Headley says. “Then she’s shown buying herself expensive jewelry and screwing an old friend in a hot tub.”

The film then shows the couple being put through the marriage counseling, with the auditor and the e-meter, exactly as Hubbard describes. Each then admits to various transgressions.

“It culminates in her admitting that she boinked an old friend,” Headley says. “They end up at the Celebrity Centre doing the marriage course, and that’s the end of the movie.”

Unfortunately, this film, which sounds gripping, can only be seen at a Scientology center, and is not available for the general public.

Headley points out that while a couple is undergoing this process, and won’t be allowed to leave until they’ve revealed their secrets, the auditor is making a detailed record.

“They document it. It all gets written down. You agree to the counseling, and you hear all this shit, now they have it all documented and can use it for themselves,” Headley points out. (And as we’ve seen numerous times, what Scientologists supposedly say in confidence later gets used against them in “fair game” retaliation programs if they dare leave the organization.)

Anyway, take a look at the marriage counseling policy. There’s a lot of jargon here, and if we have time, we’ll provide some footnotes later today. In the meantime, our illustrious commenter community should be able to answer specific questions you may have.


Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead, Sussex


All Orgs and Missions


Tape: 5912C10 “Demonstration of New HGC Process”
HCOB 31 Dec. 59R Rev. 21.8.87 BLOW-OFFS
Tape: 6001C02 “Marriage

Scientology Marriage Counseling is a very powerful technique for restoring ARC between marital partners whose relationship has become strained or is headed for divorce.

Use of this technique is depicted in the public film The Married Couple.

Scientology Marriage Counseling can be delivered by a certified Class II Auditor who is an ordained Scientology minister (or minister-in-training) and who has been high crime checked out and passed in Qual on Scientology Marriage Counseling procedure. (Ref: HCO PL 8 Mar. 66, KSW Series 13, HIGH CRIME)

The length of time required to complete Scientology Marriage Counseling can vary, but ordinarily it can be done in one or two intensives.

This processing must be done at an org which is qualified to deliver auditing to the partner with the highest case level. For instance, if one of the partners is OT III and the other is a Grade IV Release, the counseling may be delivered at an Advanced Org, but not in a Class IV Org or mission.

Scientology Marriage Counseling is actually classified as an assist. It is meant to alleviate difficulties a couple are experiencing in their relationship with each other by helping them to unburden their accumulated overts and withholds.

Unlike most other processes, this procedure is done with three people in the auditing room–the auditor and two preclears (the marital partners).

The procedure is as follows:

1. Set up the auditing room as per HCOB 4 Dec. 77R, CHECKLIST FOR SETTING UP SESSIONS AND AN E-METER. Be sure to provide comfortable chairs for both partners. The chair used by the partner who is not holding the cans is placed to one side of the auditing table, facing the pc’s chair and slightly behind the auditor.

2. Ensure both partners understand what will be taking place in the counseling sessions. If both partners are already trained as auditors or have had a Scientology C/S-l, these points need only be briefly reviewed to ensure both understand them. If one or both partners has never given or received metered auditing before, then each of these steps must be done in full:

a. Explain that everything said in the counseling you will be doing is held in strictest confidence, according to the traditional rules of pastor/parishioner confidentiality.

b. Describe how the counseling will be done, i.e., that you will be asking a set of questions, called a “process,” of one partner until a certain result is reached, then asking the same questions of the other partner. Ensure it is understood by both partners that when one of them is holding the cans and answering your questions, the other is to remain quiet and just listen, no matter what is said and no matter how much he or she may want to comment. When you are finished directing your questions to one partner, the other will be given his or her turn.

c. Briefly explain to both partners what the E-Meter is used for. For demonstration, do a “pinch test.” Explain to both partners that to show how the meter registers mental reactions, you will give the partner holding the cans a pinch. Do so. Then get that partner to think of the pinch (while still holding the cans), showing both partners the meter reaction. (Ref: The Book of E-Meter Drills, E-Meter Drill 5RB) Keep t his demonstration and explanation very simple. You can use the book Introducing the E-Meter to help handle any questions, but do not complicate this step unnecessarily.

d. Explain what the word “floating needle” means and that a floating needle indicates that you have reached a good point in the process. Let both partners know you will indicate a floating needle when one occurs in the counseling.

e. Explain that when you have finished a counseling session, you will take both partners to the Examiner. Explain that the Examiner will have the pc hold the E-Meter cans, that the pc may say anything he wishes, and that the Examiner will not say anything other than acknowledging and indicating a floating needle when one is present.

f. Clear the words “moral code,” “overt act” and “withhold” with both partners, using the definitions sheet attached to this HCOB.

g. Clear the commands of the process with both partners, making sure they understand very clearly what is meant by “done to” and “withheld from” in the questions. Explain that when the first question is answered, you’ll give the second question and so on, back and forth between the two questions. The questions are:

1. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO (spouse’s name)?

2. WHAT HAVE YOU WITHHELD FROM (spouse’s name)?

3. Put one of the partners on the meter, set the sensitivity for the pc, do a metabolism test and check to be sure the pc is well rested, has eaten and is not hungry.

4. Start the session by saying “THIS IS THE SESSION.” (Tone 40)

5. Run the process commands alternately (1,2,1,2,1,2, etc.) until the pc has an F/N, cog and VGIs Indicate the F/N and give the pc the R-factor that you have finished directing the questions to him/her for now.

6. Have the second partner sit in the auditing chair holding the cans while the first partner sits in the third chair, observing. Start a new worksheet for the second partner.

7. Give the partner on the cans the R-factor that you’ll now be directing the same questions to him/her. Ask if he/she has any questions before you begin. Set the sensitivity, etc., as in step 3.

8. Repeat steps 5-7, each time running the process to an F/N, cog and VGIs for the partner on the meter.

9. When the minister ends a session, such as for a meal break or to end off for the day, both pcs are taken to the Examiner. When counseling is ended for the day, the minister should see that the couple is scheduled for their next counseling session.

10. Write up the counseling session using a separate Auditor’s Report Form and set of worksheets for each pc. In order to ensure that a complete record of the session exists in both pes’ folders, a photocopy of each partner’s work-sheets should be included with the original worksheets of the other when those are placed in the pc folder. (For example, the husband’s pc folder would contain the original worksheets of his sessions, plus a photocopy of the worksheets of the wife’s sessions.) Route the two folders to the C/S.

By continuing the counseling a point should be reached where the TA has flattened out on both partners, and both are F/Ning, VGIs and in ARC with each other. That is the EP.

The aim of Scientology Marriage Counseling is to assist marital partners in restoring affinity, reality and communication with each other.

Many, many marriages at the brink of divorce have been successfully salvaged with the help of this processing. There is, however, no guarantee that a couple wishing to get a divorce will decide to remain married, and no minister or any org staff member should make any such promise or claim to anyone.

If the counseling is completed standardly, the couple will have been unburdened of the overts and withholds affecting their relationship and will be in good communication with each other and better able to make rational decisions concerning their marriage.

It may take several counseling sessions to reach the EP. A marriage that is in trouble is not something that is put together again in one night, because the number of overts and withholds usually takes a little longer to detail.

When the EP has been reached, both partners are C/Sed to declare to completion of Scientology Marriage Counseling in Qual5

Excellent auditor TRs are a must in delivering Scientology Marriage Counseling. The auditor should have a flawless command of TRs 0-4 and be an expert at Upper Indoc TRs. Considerable upset can sometimes occur in a Scientology Marriage Counseling session, and the auditor must be able to handle it and control both partners smoothly and with high ARC.

Auditor’s Code

The Auditor’s Code must be strictly observed by the minister at all times during Scientology Marriage Counseling. It is particularly important that the auditor not give any impression, by his words, tone of voice, mannerisms or by any other means, that he favors or sympathizes with one partner or the other, either in or out of session. (Ref: HCO PL 14 Oct. 68RA, THE AUDITOR’S CODE; HCOB 23 May 71 X, Basic Auditing Series 9, COMM CYCLE ADDITIVES; and HCOB 26 Apr. 71 I, TRs AND COGNITIONS)


Scientology Marriage Counseling procedure is not changed when it is being done on an OT. The procedure is the same regardless of the case level of the pc or pre-OT. Only in doing repair of Scientology Marriage Counseling on an OT III or above is there any difference in procedure. In such a case an LCRE8 would be done following the technical rules for use of correction lists on OTs.


Scientology Marriage Counseling is C/Sed as one would any metered assist processing, according to the HCOBs of the C/S Series. As the pcs may be very green, the C/S should be alert for any indicators that one or both of them do not understand what is expected and get this remedied if spotted. The C/S should also ensure that an auditor is thoroughly checked out and drilled before allowing him to do this processing. With the added randomity of two people to handle in each session and the misemotion that can sometimes come to the surface in this processing, it requires excellent auditor TRs, metering and command of the procedure.

Ordinarily upsets or bogs in Scientology Marriage Counseling stem from missed withholds and are handled by simply continuing the process. However, if a session is utterly bogged or if a pc is refusing to go on at all, an LCRE should be assessed and handled.

If an LCRE must be used, it should be done in a session without the pc’s spouse present; however, if overts or withholds on the spouse are gotten off in a pc’s repair session they must also be revealed by the pc to his spouse in a later session when the spouse is present. This is done by simply having the pc, in the next session, tell the spouse each of the overts or withholds that were gotten off in the repair session.

If the auditor delivering the counseling is not qualified to use the LCRE, the pc is turned over to another auditor for the repair session.

If one or both of the pc’s refuse to come in for a Scientology Marriage Counseling session after counseling has begun, arrangements should be made to get them in immediately for repair as above.


Scientology Marriage Counseling procedure is quite simple. Guard against any tendency to complicate the procedure with additional commands or steps.

One point of complexity that has been added to this action by some is in the area of setting up the pc for the action. Scientology Marriage Counseling is done as an assist for a present time difficulty. It is not a major grade or rundown requiring extensive setups before it can be done. Even rudiments are ordinarily unnecessary–if the pc is there for Scientology Marriage Counseling on his own determinism, he’ll be found to be in-session already; rudiments would act as a distraction in such a case and could tend to throw the pc out of session. (Ref: Tape 5911C09, “Demo of an Assist”) Unless it is known that a pc has a situation which must be handled before an assist is begun (such as a read on out-Int or out-lists) the counseling is simply begun and carried through to completion much as one would do any assist action. Where extensive setups have erroneously been entered into, it has commonly been found that the pc’s attention is primarily on his marital situation, and that is exactly what ends up being addressed in the “setup” auditing. This can even include overts and withholds on the pc’s spouse coming to light without the benefit of the spouse being present.

If a rud needs to be flown on one or both of the partners, it should be done in session with both partners present, unless the partner needing the rud is OT III or above and the other partner is not.

Session Misemotion and Overuse of Repair

It is not uncommon for one or both of the marriage partners being counseled to show a great deal of misemotion in a Scientology Marriage Counseling session. Crying, yelling, etc., are not unusual. The auditor should not instantly think he needs to do an LCRE or other repair action when misemotion occurs. The three oldest rules in processing apply: (a) GET THE PC THROUGH IT; (b) WHAT TURNS IT ON WILL TURN IT OFF; (c) THE WAY OUT IS THE WAY THROUGH. Only when continuing with the process of “What have you done to (spouse)?” “What have you withheld from (spouse)?” has not smoothed the session out should an LCRE be resorted to. (Ref: HCO PL 27 May 65, PROCESSING)

Auditing Both Pcs

Ideally, both partners should be audited in the same counseling session or on the same day. Though it may not always be possible to do this, experience has shown it is definitely preferable to audit both partners in one day rather than auditing one on one day and one the next.

If you end off a counseling session by auditing spouse A, begin the next session by auditing spouse B. Example: On Monday the husband is given an hour of processing, then the wife is given 45 minutes, then the husband is given an hour and finally the wife is given an hour and a half. Tuesday the session is begun by auditing the husband, and so on.


It is very important that both partners actually take part in Scientology Marriage Counseling on their own determinism. If one of the partners is hesitant to enter into counseling, a Chaplain or FSM can and should enlighten him or her to bring about an understanding of how the counseling could help. However, if one or both of the partners is not in agreement with doing the processing or is will succeed; in fact, Scientology Marriage Counseling may not be sold or delivered in such circumstances. A person who did not sign up for this counseling on his or her own determinism is a troublesome source per HCO PL 27 Oct. 64R, POLICIES ON PHYSICAL HEALING, INSANITY AND SOURCES OF TROUBLE, and is to be handled per that policy.

It may happen that partway through Scientology Marriage Counseling one or both of the partners originate that they have decided to get a divorce. Even if they seem to be satisfied with their decision, the counseling must be continued until the full EP is reached: TA flattened out on both partners, both F/Ning and VGIs and in ARC with each other.

When a couple has completed Scientology Marriage Counseling, they must be sold and delivered training to hat them on basic Scientology and tools they can use to build a strong and lasting relationship. The How to Improve Your Marriage Course is a Scientology Life Improvement Course designed specifically for this purpose and is part of a standard marriage handling program. Following the How to Improve Your Marriage Course, the couple should also do the Success Through Communication Course.


When applied standardly, Scientology Marriage Counseling is a tremendously effective tool that can be used to open the way to a happy and satisfying marriage for couples who want to repair and improve their relationship.


Compilation assisted by LRH Technical Research and Compilations
Revision assisted by LRH Technical Research and Compilations

HCOB 19.12.88R Attachment 1


The following definitions are for use in clearing these terms as part of Scientology Marriage Counseling.

Moral Code:
An agreed-upon code of conduct. Whenever people get together and operate as groups, they make agreements on codes of conduct regarding what is right and what is wrong, what is moral and what is immoral–in other words, what will be contributive to survival and what will be destructive of survival. This is a moral code–a series of agreements to which a person has subscribed to guarantee the survival of a group. It doesn’t matter what the size of the group is–whether it is a group of two people forming a marriage or a whole nation being formed–they enter into certain agreements.

Overt Act: A harmful act or a transgression against the moral code of a group. When a person does something that is contrary to the moral code he has agreed to, or when he omits to do something that he should have done per that moral code, he has committed an overt act. An overt act violates what was agreed upon.

Withhold: An unspoken, unannounced transgression against a moral code by which a person is bound. A withhold is, then, an overt act that a person committed that he or she is not talking about. Any withhold comes after an overt act.

Hubbard, L. R. (1980, 23 July). Scientology Marriage Counseling. Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology (1991 ed., Vol. XIII, pp. 364-71). Los Angeles: Bridge Publications, Inc.

See also:
What Katie is saving Suri from: Scientology interrogation of kids
Scientology’s new defections: Hubbard’s granddaughter and Miscavige’s dad
Tom Cruise’s former auditor: “He should let Katie have everything”
Scientology’s disgrace: our open letter to Tom Cruise

Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.

New readers might want to check out our primer, “What is Scientology?” Another good overview is our series from last summer, “Top 25 People Crippling Scientology.” At the top of every story, you’ll see the “Scientology” category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories.

As for hot subjects we’ve covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and was sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology’s “Mecca,” whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.

Other stories have looked at Scientology’s policy of “disconnection” that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We’ve also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there’s plenty more coming.