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Religious Trauma Therapy Group

You’ve left the church or religion you were raised in after realizing it wasn’t working for you. You are building a new life for yourself but you often feel like an outsider. People that didn’t grow up this way just don’t get it. 

You want to move on but you just don’t know how to. You feel lonely and stuck. You are frequently reminded of your upbringing/the religion and you’re not sure how to deal with the anxiety and shame that shows up. You also wish you could talk to other people that have been on this journey. 

First off- you are not alone in this. After leaving a high control religious environment, people often feel worse before they feel better. The experience itself can be incredibly isolating. It’s not just a matter of stopping going to services, it is a literal rewiring of how a person sees themself and the world they are in.

The impact of religious trauma is physical, mental and emotional. It can show up as anxiety, depression, PTSD, rage, shutdown, social anxiety, chronic pain, sexual dysfunction, specific fears, and more. Even worse, many therapists don’t know that religious trauma exists, and they may even prescribe religious practices which can be retraumatizing.

Religious trauma is real. It can be confusing compared to other types of traumas that are a single incident because it is often a chronic and communal experience. It is a culture or a backdrop of how someone navigated life instead of being a single event (*though individual traumatic incidents occur as well). 

And just like other types of trauma, it is possible to heal. There are research supported strategies that help the body decrease distress reactions. Additionally, the support of a group holding space for these experiences can be healing in and of itself.

So if any of these sound like you…

  • You left a high control religious environment

  • You wish you could work through the anxiety, depression, and shame that’s specifically related to this experience

  • You want to stop feeling so alone in what you’re going through

  • You’re interested in therapy, but want to try something lower pressure than individual therapy

  • You wish you could talk to others that have been through this too

  • You’re looking for expert help improving your life

...Then religious trauma group therapy could be right for you.

I am a survivor of religious trauma and a trauma-specialized therapist. I love offering this group because it uniquely supports adults who have left religion by creating connections with others navigating that process too. In the group, members provide support to each other because everyone really understands, while I, as the therapist, offer trauma-informed strategies for navigating this experience outside of therapy. 

When trauma occurs in relationship, it is healed in relationship. This group can provide you the space to heal from the hurts that were created in religious settings by offering a different experience. You can actually be yourself without the rules, judgment, and shame you were taught.

Here’s how the group works…

It is a closed group (meaning it is the same members that meet) for 10 weeks. Each meeting is an hour and fifteen minutes long- typically on Tuesday nights from 7:00pm-8:15p MST or EST. There is a group running in both Colorado and Florida. 

The group usually consists of 4-6 members plus myself. After the first session where we get to know each other a bit more, we get into a rhythm of a mindfulness technique, focus on the topic for that week that we process together, and end with a closing ritual the group establishes. Topics include: faith deconstruction, power dynamics, reclaiming sexuality and gender, purity culture recovery, restoring autonomy, and more.

As the facilitator, I like to support each group to go in the direction the members feel is most important. Some groups have had weeks focused on navigating first family relationships, others processed gender/sexuality messages more, and some have had individual emotions that were negatively impacted by religion get a whole separate session to explore. Each group really guides the direction that makes sense for everyone. 

The Breakdown:

  • Weekly 10 week sessions for 75 minutes per session

  • 4-6 members + facilitator

  • Meets Tuesdays from 7-8:15p MST and EST

  • Ongoing groups for adults in Colorado and Florida

  • $75 per session. A superbill can be provided for insurance reimbursement. Ask the therapist if interested.


A Note From the Facilitator

Hi! I’m Sarah Kate Wilder. I go by Sarah Kate or SK and my pronouns are she/her. I am a queer white ciswoman who grew up in christian evangelicalism in Florida. I have been in the process of healing from religious trauma for the past 10 years. 

As a trauma-specialized therapist and survivor of religious trauma myself, I know it is a nuanced experience. Different religions, different denominations, and even different churches can be worlds apart when it comes to the impact they had on their members. I prioritize holding space for the complexities of the experience of religious trauma. 

At the same time, there can be overlap in adverse experiences. This can include messages from purity culture, teaching to distrust the self/the body, spiritual abuse, financial and emotional abuse, loss of autonomy, gender/sexuality defining messages, minimizing, denying, blaming, etc. These can feel so “normal” that people tell themself it couldn’t have been that bad and think there’s something wrong with them for being negatively impacted. 

My intention is to create the group I wish I had when I was first faced with my own adverse experiences. I hope that each member completes the group feeling more equipped to bring compassion and resources to the trauma responses they are facing. And most importantly, that they know they are not alone in these experiences and it’s not their fault. 

This is hard because it’s hard. And you have the power to heal. 


Where do we go from here...

If you’ve made it this far, I’m betting this could be a good fit for you! But if you have any questions, reservations, or just want to connect to hear more, I am happy to offer you a complimentary 20 minute phone consultation. Just click the button below, fill out the form and I’ll be in touch to set it up.