RELIGIOUS TRANSITION COUNSELING

Doubt Your Beliefs?

Have Anxiety About Leaving Your Faith?

You Are Not Alone!

For many people, religious faith and belief are sources of strength and guidance during life's challenging moments. Faith-based communities like parishes, temples, wards, and congregations often provide a needed sense of belonging and support. Many of these live by their principles and honor and uplift the individual. However, scores of other believers have found that they have been misled or deceived about their faith's fundamental tenets and are leaving with a deep sense of loss, betrayal, and broken trust.   

If you are one of those going through a faith transition, you may be feeling self-doubt, blame, pain, fear, anger, guilt, and depression. Make no mistake, leaving a cherished faith is like ending a marriage or relationship and can cause significant psychological, spiritual, physical, and financial trauma. But, while there is an abundance of help for divorced people, very little specialized assistance and guidance are available to people who leave their religious relationships.

There is help in northern New Mexico. Dr. John Brady has experienced the same challenging religious transition that you are going through. When you are ready, John will help you begin your journey out of a repressive faith and restore your sense of well-being and peace of mind.

MEET Dr. JOHN A. BRADY

 

COUNSELOR, CERTIFIED MASTER LIFE COACH (C.MLc).,
and CERTIFIED MEDICAL/DENTAL HYPNOTHERAPIST (C.Ht.)

John is a compassionate, insightful and experienced counselor who assists motivated people seeking a healthier, happier life. For many years, Dr. John Brady has worked with people who have left their religious institutions to regain their tranquility and peace of mind. John is uniquely qualified to assist those suffering from separation from their faith community, having experienced that himself.

Dr. Brady holds a Ph.D. in Applied Psychology and has decades of post-graduate education, academic and professional certificates, awards, and honors. His specialty is Logotherapy, founded on the belief that striving to find meaning in life is the most powerful healing, motivating, and uplifting therapy for the human soul.

Clients rely on Dr. Brady's 35-year's of experience as a psychologist, certified master life coach (C.MLc.), and a certified Medical Hypnotherapist (C.Ht.) specializing in therapeutic hypnosis for anxiety, worry, nervousness, unease, shyness, performance or test anxiety, and Post Traumatic and Religious Trauma Stress issues, etc.

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WHAT IS RELIGIOUS TRAUMA SYNDROME?

The short answer is Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is the condition experienced by people who are struggling with leaving an repressive religion and coping with the emotional, spiritual, mental and physical side effects of the transition. They may be experiencing a shattering loss of trust after finding their church misrepresented itself or lied about fundamental issues of faith. Repressive systems (religious or otherwise) are dangerous because they use fear, guilt, and shame to control their members, and rob them of their individuality and self-esteem.

TOXIC CHURCHES AND ORGANIZATIONS

These churches and other toxic organizations have been around forever and are well-known; others not so much. One may find such groups in a quick google search, including The Children of God, Church of Scientology, Erhard Seminars Training (est), Gatekeepers, International House of Prayer, Life Dynamics, Lifespring (USA), Lifestream (Canada), Living Word Fellowship, Mormons (Salt Lake LDS church, Nauvoo Community of Christ, Fundamental LDS--the Utah/Colorado/Canada Polygamous church, and 100+ independent LDS groups in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico), NEXIVM (Nexium), People of Praise, PSI World, The Family International, The International Churches of Christ (Boston Movement), The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses), and many more.

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MULTI-LEVEL MARKETING
 
Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) companies often trap people using similar tactics used by repressive religions,. They disproportionately target women, religious people and other vulnerable individuals promising them the false hope of a life of financial independence. Success soon morphs from selling product to recruiting even more people (called "down lines") to sell for them. Then comes rallies and rah-rah sales meetings requiring the purchase of 'how-to' success books, tapes, and videos aimed at helping the duped members to climb the ladder of success to the highest levels of 'Platinum,' 'Diamond,' or 'Peak Performer' status.

Cash-Giving Clubs - Some MLM schemes skip selling products altogether, and just require a hefty "gift" of thousands of dollars. Once, they were called social clubs that supposedly improved people's lives, they have morphed into Internet-advertised ploys to make easy money in tough economic times.

These schemes arose in the 1980s with names such as La Familia, which recruited Hispanics, and Corporate Ladder, aimed at middle-class African Americans, and Gifting Tables favored by middle-class white women. Now, there’s a resurgence because of the economic downturn and the ease of posting videos on YouTube, Yahoo and Google.

What hasn’t changed: Cash-gifting clubs are pyramid schemes that benefit only a select few on the top of the ladder. The concept is simple. New members, traditionally recruited from members of a church, civic group, social circle or other organization, are invited to provide cash gifts, often thousands of dollars. These new members are promised that their contribution will be pooled with others, and as more new members join, their initial investment will be repaid in spades—for example, with an 800 percent return. (Read more here)

The Bottom Line

If you have been involved with an MLM or a Cash Giving Club, you know the sad truth is you have a minuscule .3 percent (3/10 of one percent) chance of making any money! In reality, when you add up all your operating expenses and other costs, 99.7% of people lose money. For every 1,000 people who join a MLM, only three will earn more money than they spend. Only the top tier make the lion's share of the money, and that is why MLMs are called Pyramid Schemes.


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THE COMMON THREAD BETWEEN TOXIC RELIGION AND MLMs

The common thread between toxic religion, MLMs, and other repressive organizations is that they claim a monopoly on truth and 'secret' knowledge (esoteric secret sauce) that is the exclusive domain of the leader/leadership (usually patriarchal). They claim that they have the incontrovertible truth, and the only path to achieving the 'highest reward' is total obedience, conformity, and compliance.

HOW DO THESE ORGANIZATIONS SUCCEED?

So why are people attracted to these organizations, and how do these organizations succeed? Typically they succeed by initially offering people a sense of community and common cause. As members progress deeper into the belief system, the teachings progressively rob them of their critical thinking. In the absence of critical thinking, people slowly abandon their common sense, innate wisdom, moral compass, and financial resources, making them dependent on the organization for their identity and self-esteem.

Ultimately, people may find themselves isolated from family and friends as the organization demands all of their time, talents, and resources (e.g., money, home, career, etc.), leaving them at the mercy of the whims and demands of the leader (or leadership). Ultimately they find themselves trapped in a belief system that requires them (implicitly or explicitly) to 'pay and obey' to remain in good standing.


WHAT PREVENTS PEOPLE FROM LEAVING REPRESSIVE ORGANIZATIONS?

Once a person has surrendered their lives to a repressive organization, they tend to defend it using two defensive approaches: Cognitive Dissonance and Confirmation Bias. Cognitive dissonance occurs when people are unwilling to change their minds when the facts clash with their newfound religious convictions. Confirmation bias is a condition where a person tends to accept only those references or information which confirm his/her existing belief in things. Either or both of these conditions prevent a person from being able to rationally consider and decipher fact from fiction. These two defensive tactics create a 'tribal information boundary,' which filters out information that might keep a person in balance.

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SYMPTOMS OF RELIGIOUS TRAUMA SYNDROME

Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is a group of symptoms similar to complex PTSD that arise in response to traumatic or stressful religious experiences. While RTS is not an official diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Five (DSM-V), it is a common experience shared by people who have escaped cults, fundamentalist religious groups, abusive religious settings, or other painful experiences with oppressive religious organizations. Below are some symptoms commonly experienced by people suffering from Religious Trauma Syndrome.
  • Anger after being officially shunned, excommunicated, or ostracized
  • Confusing thoughts and reduced ability to think critically
  • Grief from the loss of former religious friends and community
  • Negative beliefs about self, others, and the world
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Depression, anxiety, grief, anger, lethargy
  • Loss of a community (family, friends, family relationships)
  • Feeling lost, abandoned, directionless, and isolated, or a sense that you don't belong
  • Lack of pleasure or interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Many other symptoms including nightmares, flashbacks, dissociation, emotional difficulty, etc.

THE BOTTOM LINE ~ Wherever you find repressive, manipulating, and dogmatic cult-like organizations, you'll find damaged lives in their wake.

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MAKING A SUCCESSFUL, HEALTHY TRANSITION IS POSSIBLE

If you are struggling with Religious Trauma Syndrome, you are not alone. Many people are grappling with the same feelings you are, and there is hope for healing. Making the transition out of a faith crisis is no easy task, and counseling may be a positive, productive way to work through the shock, anger, and depression and get your life back on track.

If you or someone you know is having a religious trauma crisis and need help, call Dr. Brady. There is no fee for initial counseling sessions. Appointments for acute cases are available in person (with Covid-19 protocols), or regular sessions are available via teleconference on Skype or Zoom.

Call 505.428.0862 for a free consultation.

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