“It's so good to sit with a person who actually understands what I've experienced. I've been struggling with my religious beliefs and spiritual experiences for as long as I can remember. No longer do I feel pressure to conform. I'm free to be me!" (former client, age 45)
What is Spiritual ABuse?
Human beings are spiritual beings residing in physical bodies. There is a large body of scientific research that points to a human spiritual component that is just as real as the mind and the body. Our spiritual component is our inner light, it is the innermost sacred part of our being. It has nothing to do with religion, although many people see the two as acting together in their experiences. Religion is belief oriented. Spirituality is experience oriented.
We are born with a spiritual component. Many people go through experiences as children that range anywhere from crushing the spirit to nurturing this part of us. If we grow up with strict beliefs and stringent rules that do not allow for self exploration and creative expression of the self, we are left having to heal the wounds from this as adults.
As children, our caregivers are the model for Divine influence in our lives because we are dependent on them for care and love. What they teach us, the way they treat us, becomes our concept of a higher consciousness that is more powerful that we are as individuals. Our caregivers are the ones who we depend on to nurture and love us, to feed and clothe us, to protect us. All too often, this is not what happens.Spiritual Abuse happens when others who have power over us use that power, consciously or not, to control how we think, believe, and behave. If you have suffered from distressing events in your life, you have experienced trauma. Have you had an experience where another person has devalued you or put you down over and over again? That can be referred to as trauma. Have you suffered from sexual assault, physical abuse, been a witness to war or near death experiences? These are all trauma. Suffering from intrusive thoughts and images and difficulties in having close relationships are all symptoms of the experience of trauma. And, the good news is that there is relief.
What is the difference between Religion and Spirituality?
Religion is belief oriented. Spirituality is experience oriented.
Spiritual based recovery
Resolving the way your brain and body respond to traumatic memories and negative beliefs can be greatly shortened with certain techniques. Much of recovery from spiritual and religious abuse is becoming more aware of your own beliefs, and can be a very exciting and liberating journey of heart and soul. Resolving self-esteem and shaming beliefs/memories with EMDR may be an important part of recovery, and there is much more to be revealed in the process.
What I can do to help you heal from religious or spiritual pain and confusion is to use my skills and experience to work with your nervous system and your brain to help rewire linkages that are causing you emotional pain and giving you trouble in your relationships. In addition, I have a deep background in religions and spirituality, which often is helpful to clients who struggle with religious concerns as well as spiritual healing and development. Part of healing from spiritual wounding is building healthy relationships. Therapy can be one of those relationships, and there will be many others to bolster you as you go. Forming healthy relationship with self and other also informs your brain, heart, and soul of the type of relationship possible with powers greater than yourself.
Treatment Options for Religious and Spiritual Concerns:
Insight Oriented talk therapy along with techniques like Emotion Focused Therapy (see video of Sue Johnson below) can help you understand how your past experiences, the belief system you currently carry, your emotions, thoughts, and your spirituality all fit together.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) - helps you learn to navigate challenging interpersonal situations as well as painful thoughts and emotions through mindfulness and other practical skills development to bring you personal peace and success.
EMDR - eye movements that stimulate the brain to heal painful emotions and memories by moving them or reprocessing them so that they no longer intrude in your everyday life.
Emotional Freedom Technique or tapping therapy - easily learned skill that utilizes pressure points. It can be used anytime anywhere to reduce anxiety, negative feelings, thoughts, and beliefs.
Energy work such as Reiki, which is found to calm the nervous system and balance emotions.
Spiritual Healing and THERAPy
It is very important you find the right therapist for you, and that you find one who actually does have the training and experience to help you heal. There are many people who have education as therapists. It is important you find the right match for you AND look into the training and experience of anyone you choose to help you. Contact me for a free consultation