Frequently Asked Questions About Spiritual Abuse Counselling with Erica Bonham
Are you, personally, anti-religion?
No, not at all. I have a fulfilling spiritual path of my own and I have been lucky to have met wonderful religious and spiritual leaders who welcome critical thinking and personal exploration. I want you to have the same experience. When you delve deeply into Christianity, and most other religions, the core message is that God is love. So, our goal is to help you learn how to love more completely and more healthfully. I don’t see my work as anti-religion; I see it as pro-love.
Do I have to “give up God” to feel better?
No. Not unless you want to do so. Often people struggle to heal from past bad experiences in their church or religious communities because they fear that you have to completely turn away from God, you can heal and you can do spirituality on your own terms. We can retrain your brain.
You may choose to embrace a different church or religious path or you may choose not to do so. But remember, you don’t need to be part of a religious community to find meaningful community- some people find solace in a totally personalize spiritual path.
The key is for you to get the support you need to make your own choices and find what is healthful and right for YOU.
Does getting therapy with you mean I have to give up my family or other loved ones?
As you strengthen and heal your relationships with those around you will definitely change. In some cases that may mean you end up setting boundaries, or expressing needs that family members or other church members are uncomfortable with. There is no denying that in some cases you may experience rejection and separation. AND, although this can be a painful process, most clients find it to be ultimately healing and rewarding. In some cases, your old friends and family learn to accept you and love you as you are and the relationships strengthen, and in some cases, you move forward in your life and find the people who are willing to love you for the person you truly are.
How is being abused by a religious figure all that different from being abused by secular family member?
If you were abused by a human father, there is always the subconscious understanding that he is only human and his power may feel vast but it is still somewhat limited. But if you are taught that other humans are manipulating and controlling you because it is the will of God, there is a deep sense that his power is unlimited and punishment will be eternal. There is a sense that anything human that you might need or desire is rooted in sin and you must therefore be continually denied, disciplined or hurt to drive out the sin. On a subconscious level you come to believe that the pain will never really end so there is no point in trying to heal. This can lead to a dangerous state of depression and helplessness that is hard to address without addressing the underlying religious beliefs and issues.
How do you distinguish spiritual from religion?
I see spirituality as connecting us to our own sense of purpose, connection, gratitude and meaning. It is ultimately an experience of feeling Divine love and seeing the presence of Divine love in our daily lives. It is not about proving we are good enough. I don’t believe the Divine has an ego. True spirituality is not about pleasing and appeasing, instead it is about bringing out the absolute best in ourselves and recognizing the best in the world around us.
How are you qualified to work with this if you are not a clergy member?
My role is not to tell you what to believe or to resolve questions of dogma or religious truth. My role is to help your re-wire your brain and body to release the negative patterns brought on by trauma an adverse experience. My extensive training in psychology and particularly in the treatment method called EMDR prepares and qualifies me to do that.
What does the process look like? What do you actually DO in your sessions?
During sessions we will combine talking about your past experiences and your current needs and concerns with using specific techniques to strengthen your nervous system and brain processing. We will combine breathing exercises and simple movement and body exercises along with discussing and reprocessing difficult past experiences. We will work through as specific protocol to help you literally re-wire the way your brain is accessing and storing information and to help your body and brain release the stress, anxiety and destructive thinking patterns that are keeping you from connecting with your own deepest sense of truth and peace.
How long will this take?
At A.V.O.S. Counseling we don’t believe in keeping you on the couch for years, we want you to regain your sense of deep well-being and get on with your life. Our unique approach using EMDR therapy allows many people to start seeing relief within as few as 6-12 sessions but ongoing treatment may be needed for a few months or years, depending on the complexity of your past. In every instance we will make sure you get the support you need to heal on your own terms and will honor the fact that every healing journey is different. So, don’t worry that you will be stuck in therapy forever. Give yourself the gift of the help you need to get unstuck in life and start feeling good about your life and yourself.
This all sounds good. How do I get started?
Fill out our contact form and you will immediately receive a welcome packet outlining the process and policies. You will even get a free meditation to use right now so that you can have a tool that may help manage stress. One of our clinicians will reach out to you to set up an initial consultation. All clinicians offer a free 25-minute consultation, but we always reserve the full 50 minutes. If you find you are working well with your therapist, you can continue with the full initial session at half price. We offer appointments for clients working to overcome spiritual abuse on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, and the therapist you will be working with is Erica.
Let one of our specialists help you get you on the road to healing and out of pain today!