Specialism

Cult & Spiritual/Religious Abuse & Trauma Recovery

 

I am trained to work with clients who have experienced cult and spiritual/religious abuse either in a high-demand group or one-to-one relationship and also hold a Certificate in Post-Cult Counselling which is a specialised approach to counselling former cult members and those who have experienced various kinds of undue influence designed by Dr Gillie Jenkinson of Hope Valley Counselling. Through her many years of clinical practice and doctoral research she developed a relational psycho-educational model that seeks to empower clients through helping them to understand the dynamics used by the group or individual and recover their authentic self.

Having focused my Masters Degree research on exploring a Counsellors preparedness to work with Spiritually abused clients, I am accutely aware of how largely unknown and unacknowleged this form of abuse remains. Consequently, Counsellors and Psychotherapists have little or no formal training to work specifically with this form of abuse or collection of abuses. Whilst general counselling can be helpful for some, spiritual abuse and abuse within high-demand groups ect. has distinct features that fundamentally need understanding and addressing.

Whilst this form of abuse can feel as though it shatters our very core sense of self, we get to choose which pieces we keep, discard or new ways of being we desire to develop.

Thankfully, I can assure you that there is hope for healing and life can be different. It takes work and effort, a marathan rather than a sprint but it is worth it! Rather than putting your energy into surviving redirect it, to learn how to thrive.

 

Not many people wake up one day and think its a great idea to join a cult or high-demand group or gets involved with an abusive partner or Church, or joins for it to turn out badly. Often things are not what they seem, it starts with the love-bombing, being included, sense of purpose or being whisked off your feet, but as the saying goes.... 'if something seems too good to be true, it probably is'! Whilst all sorts of people join for all sorts of reasons, frequently people tend to be very altruistic, genuinely wanting to make a difference in their own life and that of others or pursuing a higher calling. However, often as time goes by things take a very different, sinister turn, and with hindsight, its hard to reconcile where you end up from where you began. Or you may have been born or raised in the group and had little to no autonomous control over your involvement.

Cult, spiritual or religious abuse can be highly traumatising, resulting in Post Traumatic Stress, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other psychological and physical difficulties. This form of abuse is considered elusive and difficult-to-define and can scar the core part of who we are. Whilst is not considered to be new, because it is often hard to put into words what is happening or the damage it has done, getting an accurate definition has been challenging. A recent more comprehensive definintion is -

'Spiritual abuse is a form of emotional and psychological abuse. It is characterised by a systemic pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour in a religious context. Spiritual abuse can have a deeply damaging impact on those who experience it. This abuse may include : manipulation and exploitation, enforced accountability, censorship of decision making, requirements for secrecy, pressure to conform, misuse of scripture or the pulpit to control behaviour, requirement of obedience to the abuser, the suggestion that the abuser has a divine position and isolation from others, especially those external to the abusive context.' (Oakley & Kinmond, 2013)

Spiritual or religious abuse can occur in any setting where there is spiritual seeking whether that be in a Church, organisation, high-demand group, cult, family or one-to-one relationship and often is accumpanied by other forms of abuse.

 

For further reading on this issue or to better identify characteristic of this form of abuse or cults in general please go to the Articles & Resources section under 'Info' or if you would like to explore, work through and recover from, the often traumatic experience of this form of abuse, please don't hesitate to contact me.