Healing from religious trauma

Religion New Service interviews Laura E. Anderson, a psychologist who has written a new book, When Religion Hurts You: Healing from Religious Trauma and the Impact of High-Control Religion. In the interview Anderson makes the obvious point that the cure for religious trauma might not be renouncing all religion:

“[Religion News Service:] Why might it be important for therapists working with religious trauma not to be anti-religion?

“[Laura Anderson:] Anti-religious messages can quickly become prescriptive and fundamentalist. To say all religion is terrible and you just have to get rid of it, or the idea that God is dumb and only for mentally weak people, is incredibly shaming and discouraging. It’s also not necessarily helpful for the healing process. My job as a therapist is not to get you to a belief that I might hold. It is to help you heal and to lean in more to who you are authentically. I think that includes religion or spiritual practices. Now I always say I’m not anti-religion, but I am anti-harm and power and control, and anti-abuse. So if you can find a religion or faith or spiritual practice that isn’t including those things, I think that’s wonderful.”

I call this an “obvious point,” though it might not be obvious to everyone. But think of this analogy: if someone is sexually assaulted, psychotherapists don’t tell them to never have sex again. Instead, the therapeutic goal is healing so that the person who survived sexual assault can go on to have healthy relationships, including health sexual relationships.

The entire interview with Anderson is worth reading, not just for her thoughts about religious trauma, but also for her insights into trauma and healing from trauma.