Among Robbins' early work are notable studies comparing contemporary and historical controversies, such as the mass suicides among the Russian Old Believers and those that occurred in Jonestown in 1979, or present-day agitation against "cults" and similar controversies surrounding Catholicism, Mormonism and Freemasonry in the early nineteenth century. From the mid-1980s, Robbins became increasingly focused on legal and church-state issues related to new religious movements. He has written extensively on the legal and social-science issues related to the alleged use of mind control by therapeutic and religious groups. Together with his colleague, the psychologist Dick Anthony, Robbins has been one of the most prominent critics of the anti-cult movement's views on brainwashing.
D. Anthony and T. Robbins (eds.), In Gods We Trust: New Patterns of Religious Pluralism in America, Transaction Publishers, 1981, 1990, 1996, ISBN 978-0-88738-800-2
R. Anthony, J. Needleman, T. Robbins, The New Religious Movements: Conversion, Coercion and Commitment, Crossroad Publishing Company, 1983, ISBN 978-0-8245-0484-7
T. Robbins, W. C. Shepherd, J. McBride (eds.), Cults, Culture, and the Law: Perspectives on New Religious Movements, American Academy of Religion, Studies in Religion, No 36, Scholars Press, 1985, ISBN 978-0-89130-832-4
T. Robbins and R. Robertson, Church-state Relations: Tensions and Transitions, Transaction Publishers, 1987, ISBN 978-0-88738-651-0
T. Robbins, Cults, Converts, and Charisma: the Sociology of New Religious Movements, Sage Publications, 1988, ISBN 978-0-8039-8158-4