My name is Hannah and I am a religious trauma therapist. Like many of my clients, I did not choose to grow up in an organized religion. I internalized harmful teachings before I was even old enough to understand the concept of religion. I spent the first decade of my adulthood redefining my beliefs surrounding womanhood, relationships, sexuality, and the meaning of life as a whole. As I learned to identify and let go of beliefs that were no longer serving me, I also began to recognize that I was not alone in my journey.
Religious trauma is a term commonly used to describe physical, emotional, and relational harm resulting from organized religion. Common examples include abuse from religious leaders, shame or fear resulting from religious teachings, and/or being ostracized from one’s family or friends based on religious principles. Religious trauma impacts so many people, yet we are just now labeling it.
Although I could write an entire book on the reasons why I became a religious trauma therapist, here are the top five that come to mind:
1. Religious Trauma is Far Too Common
I can remember feeling so alone in my own struggle with religious trauma. The religious people I knew found joy and hope in their beliefs and the non-religious people I knew had no framework for understanding the concept of being harmed by religion. It was not until I became a therapist that I realized I was far from being alone in this experience.
There are so many people who have been harmed by religious communities, yet we so rarely talk about it. Religion can be a source or peace and empowerment, however, power dynamics, gender roles, and harmful teachings can cause people significant harm. As a religious trauma therapist, I am passionate about normalizing the experience of religious trauma and providing a safe space for people to heal from the difficult experiences they have faced.
2. We have just begun the Religious Trauma Conversation
Although more people are becoming aware of religious trauma, it is still a largely under-discussed and misunderstood topic. As brave individuals continue to come forward and share their stories, mental health professionals have the opportunity to better understand how to support them. Being a religious trauma therapist provides me with the opportunity to
3. Women & the LGBTQ+ Community
Religious trauma therapists understand that religious trauma can impact anyone, however, women and members of the LGBTQ+ community face a unique set of challenges. Far too often, women in organized religions are treated as less than men and taught that their purpose is limited to a stringent set of beliefs. By the same token, members of the LGBTQ+ community may face discrimination, exclusion, and even physical harm due to religious doctrines.
4. Loss of Identity
One of the most challenging aspects of religious trauma is the loss of identity that often accompanies it. For many individuals, religion forms the foundation of their worldview, values, and sense of self. When that foundation is shaken or dismantled, it can lead to feelings of confusion, emptiness, and despair. As a religious trauma therapist, I am dedicated to helping people rebuild their identities and discover new beliefs and values that align with their authentic selves.
5. Fear of Death
Religious trauma can also be closely tied to fears surrounding death and the afterlife. Many organized religions teach specific doctrines about what happens after death, and the fear of eternal punishment or separation from loved ones can be paralyzing. In my work as a religious trauma therapist, I have the privilege of guiding individuals through the process of confronting and overcoming these fears, ultimately helping them find peace and acceptance.
As a religious trauma therapist, I am honored to walk alongside individuals on their journeys toward healing and self-discovery. It is a powerful and transformative experience to witness the resilience, growth, and strength of those who have faced religious trauma. My own journey has inspired me to provide a compassionate and understanding space for others to explore their experiences, redefine their beliefs, and reclaim their lives.
Talk to a Religious Trauma Therapist Today
If you or someone you know is struggling with religious trauma, know that help is available. At Philosophie Therapy in Jacksonville, FL, we understand the unique challenges that come with this type of trauma and are committed to providing empathetic, specialized care. Reach out to us today to book a free 15-minute consultation and begin your journey toward healing and self-discovery.