Religious Trauma is Real

Questioning religious beliefs or leaving church cultures can be hard. Religious Adverse Experiences of religious beliefs or structures can undermine a sense of safety or autonomy. 

If you’re struggling to recover after religious trauma, spiritual harm or leaving your faith community, help is available. Schedule a free phone consultation today.

What people are saying about Sarah Kate:

"Sarah Kate embodies compassion and understanding. She empowers clients to live their fullest lives. I deeply trust Sarah Kate to provide a safe space for those who have longed for a place to be accepted and understood."

Alea Wise, LMHC, RPT, NCC

"Sarah Kate is an exceptional therapist and person. She cares deeply about herwork with clients on their journey towards healing. She approaches counseling with warmth, safety, and hope."

Blake Butterfield, M.Ed./Ed.S.

"Not only is Sarah Kate a phenomenal trauma therapist, but she is also a warm, kind, genuine, and open person. Sarah Kate is invested in her clients and creates a space free of judgment where people can be themselves. I never hesitate to refer clients to Sarah Kate, as I know they will receive the kind of care I would want for myself and my loved ones."

Debbie Weiss Hatfiel, M.Ed./Ed.S., LMHC

About Sarah Kate Wilder, LMFT

Sarah Kate Wilder has counseled individuals and couples for the past decade. She received her Master’s in Education at the University of Florida in Marriage & Family Therapy. She began her career specializing in trauma work in child welfare. Then she shifted to provided psychotherapy in private practice for adults wanting to move past their past. Her practice is online serving people in Florida, Colorado, and Idaho. Sarah Kate is an EMDR practitioner. Additionally, she has provided education in trauma treatment, Ethical Non-Monogamy, and using yoga for healing purposes. She was trained in Alignment-Based Vinyasa Yoga for her 200-hour certification.

If you are looking to:

  • Find a sense of belonging
  • Move past shame and anxiety
  • And live authentically

…Then let’s chat!

Counseling For Religious Trauma & Spiritual Harm In Colorado & Florida

Are You Feeling Lost and Confused After Changing Beliefs or Leaving Religion?

7 Signs* You’ve Experienced Religious Trauma or Spiritual Harm: 

  1. You were taught you’re a bad person, you will be damned or are going to hell because you no longer go to church.

  2. You experience crippling anxiety because it feels like everything you were taught was a lie and you don’t know what to believe.

  3. You feel depressed because you don’t know the meaning of life anymore. 

  4. Shame is a constant in your life. You frequently are reminded of scripture or messages that told you you’re bad/not good enough.

  5. You don’t feel safe outside of the religious community but also can’t go back and try to fit in anymore.

  6. You were taught that your sexuality or gender is not worthy/inherently wrong. 

  7. You feel constant religious guilt.

*This is by no means an all inclusive list of symptoms of religious trauma/harm. Just a starting place.

Religious Trauma is Real

In the United States, religion (and especially subsects of christianity) is ubiquitous. People often don’t realize that there can be trauma arising from a culture of harmful experiences.

Adverse Religious Experiences is defined as any experience of a religious belief, practice, or structure that undermines an individual's sense of safety or autonomy and/or negatively impacts their physical, social, emotional, relational, or psychological well- being. These experiences can result in trauma to that person. 

Adverse Religious Experiences can include: 

  • Loss of autonomy: shutting down individual thought, being taught to distrust one’s self, banning critical thinking, deferring decision making to the spiritual authority

  • Spiritual Abuse: Being required to submit to spiritual authorities, no accountability for clergy, use of holy text to oppress or abuse, threatening consequences for breaking group rules/”sinning”

  • Isolation: Cutting off people outside of the religious system, information control, devaluing people outside the religious system, oversight of members’ time/money

  • Sexuality & Gender Defining Adverse Consequences: Defining rigid gender rules, inherent “sinfulness” of specific sexual expressions, belief in one gender being greater, patriarchal values, requirements of “purity”, policing sexual expressions, declaring individuals who are acting different from prescribed gender roles as sinful

And much more. 

These adverse religious experiences can result in trauma to the brain, body, and deeper sense of self. This can look like overwhelming self-doubt, confusion, constant fear and shame, fears of people and places outside the religious system, depression, anxiety. It can cause self-medicating with substances, dissociation and disconnection from the body, a freeze response, lack of purpose and a felt sense that life is meaningless, hopelessness, distrust in self, distrust in others, and more.

Religious Trauma Therapy Can Help You Return To Yourself

Imagine that you wake up and feel peaceful. Shame and fear are no longer running your life. Depression and anxiety don’t define you. You are your own person.

Counseling can help this be your reality. In therapy you can receive tools for helping the body process distress and access your own ability to heal. You’ve done the brave hard thing of surviving all this and now you get to have the support you deserve.

I personally know it’s possible to heal because I (Sarah Kate Wilder) have been there. Check out my story: the exposed version for more info. Additionally, over my 10 years of providing therapy, I’ve witnessed many people heal their past and create the life they truly want. 

Every person’s experience with religious trauma is different. I will tailor the process to what makes sense for you and your goals. I often use a mix of body-based practices to support healing as well as processing the thoughts/beliefs to repair the distrust and return to yourself. 

I believe you have the power to heal from the experiences that led you to believe you are unworthy or unlovable. Even though it doesn’t often feel like it, facing the harm is incredibly brave. You deserve the support of a knowledgeable therapist to help you return to yourself and your inherent worthiness.