Religious Trauma

Religious trauma is a specific type of trauma. Trauma overwhelms a person’s sense of safety and control, making them feel helpless. Religious trauma occurs when a person feels overwhelmed, unsafe, or helpless by “God,” one’s religious leader, and/or one’s religious community. Symptoms of religious trauma may look like self-hatred, guilt, fear regarding eternal punishment, shame around sexuality and aspects of age-appropriate sexual development, self-blame, inability to experience joy or pleasure, or hyperreligiosity to attempt to reduce one’s sense of anxiety or doubt. Religious trauma can happen anywhere “God” is used to justify actions that harm people. This can be in a specific location, like a church or mosque, or in relationships, such as a small group or marriage. Religious trauma is unique in that people who endure religious abuse generally initially believe that this messaging cannot be questioned as it comes from “God.” The person then generally blames themself in not being able to maintain the thoughts, beliefs, and/or behaviors they have been taught God demands of them. This incongruence creates a cycle of self-loathing, shame, and self-doubt.

Based on extensive peer-reviewed research, EMDR generally works more quickly and comprehensively than any other current, known  talk therapy treatment for adverse life experiences or trauma. EMDR re-wires neural brain circuits through bilateral stimulation, or stimulation of both brain spheres, through eye movements, vibrations, or tapping, to bring relief from unwanted symptoms to better identify and create the life you want.

The specific process of EMDR involves identifying the positive ways you want to see yourself and more fully be present in the spaces and relationships you inhabit. EMDR then reinforces these identified positive beliefs through your brain’s neural network. Through this process, relief and improvement can more deeply and quickly occur due to the nature and effectiveness of the bilateral stimulation.

At the EMDR Center of Denver, we believe that every person who has experienced religious trauma deserves healing. We are dedicated to creating a safe and supportive space for all clients in identifying what they assess as the most life-giving way forward. Schedule your first session with us today to experience relief and closure.

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