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It might be a scripture inviting us to “put on the mind of Christ” or a prayer to “lay our burdens at the foot of the cross.”

People in faith communities struggling with trauma and mental health issues often encounter spiritual leaders trying to help, but those helpers don’t have a trauma-informed lens.

We often hear from clients, directees, parishioners and leaders of faith communities themselves that seeking help from spiritual leaders has led to further traumatization.

Too often, the wounded are blamed or shamed for their experiences, which results in suppression, rather than healing, of the very issues that were brought forward.

Systemically, the lack of trauma awareness can also perpetuate a “trickle-down effect” in which unhealed spiritual leaders attempt to come alongside individuals struggling with significant emotional and mental issues.

The unresolved trauma of the faith leader can result in more hurt in those already struggling.

The spiritual practices and advice offered to survivors don’t end up bringing relief from the flashbacks, nightmares and day-to-day triggers that can happen with trauma; people are left feeling deep shame, confusion or a fear they are not “spiritual” enough.

“Discovering Wholeness: Healing Trauma, Unearthing Self” is a sacred invitation to heal, transform and thrive.

We are three passionate women who bi-vocationally serve and work in the realms of clinical therapy, spiritual direction and professional ministry.

We each have incurred our own wounding from serving in faith communities and witnessed the soul injuries of others, from pews to pulpits.

We know the harm people experience at the hands and hearts of trusted faith leaders, as well as the type of congregational bullying enacted on faith leaders because their gender identity, sexual orientation or theological framework doesn’t conform to established norms.

“Discovering Wholeness” is a call to resistance. It is a podcast that bids us all to resist the notion that church trauma, or any form of hurt in a spiritual setting, is a type of superficial wounding that is easily healed from, or that trauma within faith communities or other spiritual settings doesn’t exist.

We appreciate the buzzword of “trauma” over the past year, given the global circumstances ushered in by COVID-19 and the rise of mental health vulnerabilities all over the world as a result of it.

Our collective trauma continues to magnify the longer standing pandemics of racism, patriarchy and white supremacy, to which spiritual abuse and religious trauma are tied.

We believe the time is now for us to dive more deeply into the shadow parts of our spiritual communities, so the shedding of light on the intricacies and impact of trauma are exposed. We see this podcast as an opportunity for us all to heal courageously.

“Discovering Wholeness” is committed to being a platform that not only offers resources to those who have experienced or are experiencing trauma, but also provides tools for those looking to start spiritual communities and want to resist retraumatizing.

We believe it also will be helpful to leaders within a variety of fields who desire to support their employees in living more wholehearted lives, and for those looking to learn how to best companion with loved ones who are healing through trauma.

Editor’s note: The first two episodes of season one of “Discovering Wholeness” are now available, with the subsequent seven episodes to be released weekly. You can learn more and listen to the podcast here. A “Good Faith Weekly” interview with the hosts is available here.

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