Kristina respects all people’s right to their beliefs and recognizes the vast variance in perspectives and worldviews. Part of therapeutic work is identifying core beliefs and recognizing their importance in our lives. When our beliefs are healthy (e.g. I am capable. I can choose whom to trust. I am worthwhile. People are doing the best that they can. Etc.) we feel competent, connected, and treat ourselves and others well. When our beliefs are unhealthy (E.g. I am shameful and bad. I should have known better, done better. I am powerless. People cannot be trusted. Etc.) our quality of life can be severely compromised. This is not to suggest that people are ideally fully independent of one another, or unaffected “islands”, rather that we are interdependent, dynamic, and assign reciprocal and mutual responsibility in our relationships.
For some of us, fundamentalist beliefs, communities, and practices can cause trauma. Dr. Marlene Winell has studied, treated, and given a name to Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) . For thorough information on RTS, please visit Dr. Winell’s website.
While Kristina generally avoids pathologization in her practice, the identification of trauma in response to religion can be validating and healing for those who may have experienced it.
To quote Dr. Winell’s research, the following are excerpts from her work, which help outline potential experiences of those still in, questioning, or leaving fundamentalist religions:
Cognitive: Confusion, poor critical thinking ability, negative beliefs about self-ability & self-worth, black & white thinking, perfectionism, difficulty with decision-making
Emotional: Depression, anxiety, anger, grief, loneliness, difficulty with pleasure, loss of meaning
Social: Loss of social network, family rupture, social awkwardness, sexual difficulty, behind schedule on developmental tasks
Cultural: Unfamiliarity with secular world; “fish out of water” feelings, difficulty belonging, information gaps (e.g. evolution, modern art, music)
Suppression of normal child development – cognitive, social, emotional, moral stages are arrested
Damage to normal thinking and feeling abilities -information is limited and controlled; dysfunctional beliefs taught; independent thinking condemned; feelings condemned
External locus of control – knowledge is revealed, not discovered; hierarchy of authority enforced; self not a reliable or good source
Physical and sexual abuse – patriarchal power; unhealthy sexual views; punishment used as for discipline
Dr. Marlene Winell