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RELIGIOUS TRAUMA THERAPY IN CHARLESTON, SC.

Empty pews in a sunlit church

Religious trauma is not a narrow phenomenon; it encompasses a spectrum of symptoms and experiences, and can affect people from any faith background. Simply put, religious trauma involves physical/sexual/emotional abuse, coercion, or manipulation within a religious context.

TREATING ADULTS WITH RELIGIOUS TRAUMA.

WHAT DOES RELIGIOUS TRAUMA LOOK LIKE?

In American Christianity, religious trauma often involves a religious peer or person of authority imprinting followers with a sense of shame, self-doubt, or confusion around an aspect of their identity or behavior. It can also involve the weaponization of religious scripture with the goal of shoring up conformity within a church. For example, setting a tone of condemnation around common human experiences like abortion, divorce, premarital sex, queerness, and liberalism, or else issues like addiction, pornography, and mental health.

Image by Josh Applegate

RELIGIOUS TRAUMA SYMPTOMS MAY INCLUDE

  • Scrupulosity

  • Identity issues

  • Existential fears

  • Challenges with self-esteem

  • Challenges with critical thinking

  • Chronic negative self-evaluation

  • Difficulty trusting one’s self or motives

GETTING BETTER FROM RELIGIOUS TRAUMA.

  • Deconstruction is the process of evaluating and cross-examining our previously held beliefs with the goal of gaining a greater sense of clarity and integrity. Most people with religious trauma begin deconstructing because the doctrines of their religion are irreconcilable with their own sense of what is moral and just.

  • Our values can serve as a through-line for creating a stronger sense of self when our identity has been shaken. Those who emerge from traumatizing religious backgrounds may need to re-learn how to relate to themselves and others. Identifying your values can be an exercise in self-direction and personal empowerment.

  • Depending on the severity and duration, trauma affects our nervous systems. Simply put, our brains create an imprint of people/places/events, forming the origin for “triggers”. Healing from trauma involves making our own bodies a safe place to live again. The power that comes from learning to self-soothe is often life changing.

  • Healing from relational and religious trauma doesn’t happen in a vacuum. While churches can offer a one-stop shop for a sense of community, those who leave religious circles may find themselves needing to look elsewhere for a supportive peer group. Forming relationships with like-minded others is an essential part of taking back your life from religious abuse.

Image by Bre Smith

My counseling approach is secular, trauma-informed, feminist, and culturally sensitive.

SECULAR THERAPY IN SOUTH CAROLINA.

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