I was the classic curious child who had a question for everything. Being raised in a very loving family and community where faith was central to all areas of life, I assumed that all of my questions could be answered through the pages of the Bible and the interpretation of the community.
I believed this wholeheartedly and, for the duration of my childhood and early adulthood, it served to provide stability and a sense of belonging in my family and identity amongst the community at large.
As I grew older, my questions demanded that I look further and deeper than what was available in my safe community, and I came to realise that the worldview that I had been raised in no longer fit the wider perspective that I was growing into. This caused a great chasm for me, as my safety and sense of identity lay within the religious community, yet I knew deep down that my authentic, core self required something wider and deeper. For a while it needed merely a larger box, then it needed a box without a lid, and eventually it needed to let go of the box entirely. This process was/has been hard, confusing, and disorienting at times; however, I feel that I have come out the other side more connected to myself and the world, and able to walk in a way that is authentic to myself and my calling.
How I got into therapy
I believe that it was this inquisitive, ‘question-asker’ side of myself that drove me to become a therapist.
Interestingly, working with those who are deconstructing religion or processing adverse religious experiences/spiritual abuse was not initially on my radar.
However, as I have sat with folks from all walks of life, cultures, religions, and backgrounds, I have found many common threads in the stories I hear, such as:
- Negative experiences with religion
- Accounts of spiritual abuse
- Doubt regarding inherited faith
- Shame related to not measuring up to religious teachings
- Fear around the implications of not aligning with their inherited faith
- Pain experienced due to not being able to embrace their sexuality or gender identity due to faith community
The focus of my work
As a result of hearing these stories and walking with people in their pain, I have come to have a strong desire to help people work through the tensions that occur on the way to finding congruence in all areas of life. Many people talk about finding themselves in a space between what they used to know and what they don’t quite know yet. This can be a place of extreme disorientation and feel like stepping into the unknown. I am fascinated by what can happen when we fully grasp the unknown, engage mystery, and follow that faint voice that says, “There is more. Just keep on walking.”
The implications of this ‘in between space’ has become a focus of my work as a therapist. I recognise that the effects of religion are extremely far-reaching - both in the positive and negative sense - and that there is often deep loss for those who deconstruct, deconvert, change religions or denominations, or leave entirely.
These may include:
- Family issues
- Marriage problems
- Job loss
- Extreme people pleasing
- Depression and anxiety
- Feelings of being behind developmentally
- Difficulties with sex and sexuality
- Fear or dread towards doctrines
- Feeling isolated from what was once a supportive community
I have unique experience that comes from navigating my own religious deconstruction/reconstruction. Combined with my education in mental health and vast experience with a huge demographic of people, I provide a space that is both safe and conducive to understanding the past, coming to terms with the present, and making plans for the future.
- Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Counselling from Briercrest Seminary (2017)
- Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies, minor in Psychology from Trinity Western University (2012)
- Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (#10000991), with the professional designation of Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC)
- Middle East Psychological Association
- Motivational Interviewing (2017)
- Certificate in TeleMental Health and Digital Ethics - Zur Institute (2019)
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for Beginners (2019)
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for Trauma (2019)