This past March, I visited Utah at the request of psychologist John Dehlin and the Thrive Beyond Religion non-profit movement. It was a solid opportunity for me to learn more about the LDS organization and its impact on its members. My last trip to Utah was at the request of the Ex-Mormon Foundation in 2000 after my second book, Releasing the Bonds, was published. I became deeply interested in the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). Dr. Phil (the television show host) asked me to counsel, pro bono, two 15-year FLDS runaways who did not want to marry men in their sixties or older. FLDS sticks to the original Joseph Smith polygamous teachings. I agreed to help counsel them, and the show sent them to Boston. The resulting expose motivated the Attorneys General of Utah and Arizona to investigate Warren Jeffs, the so-called prophet, who is currently in jail but still influencing his true believers.
An all-day workshop dedicated to recovery from Mormonism made me want to understand more details about the mainline LDS Church. I presented a talk on my BITE Model to a group of 250 ex-members. I was reluctant to apply my work on brainwashing and mind control cults to this powerful, wealthy group. Still, I did and will continue to be involved in helping folks to reality-test and decide if they wish to remain in a group or exit – and if they do decide to leave – how to do so with minimal harm to themselves and their relationships with family and friends.
Dr. John Dehlin invited me on the Mormon Stories podcast after wanting to sit me down and do his long-form interview for quite some time now. The result was two 3.5-hour episodes in his studio. Despite getting a cold and a raspy throat while in Utah, I did several talks, including one for Chelsea Homer’s Lost & Found Club in person and live-streamed on their Facebook page. I also was interviewed by Carah Burrell (also known as Nuance Hoe) and Kyle Bishop for her YouTube channel. On Saturday, I did two Thrive appearances – one in Lehi and one in Ogden, Utah. The trip’s culmination was a one-day in-person workshop with John Dehlin in Alpine, Utah, with over 150 people, which was video recorded. We are pleased to offer the workshop videos for anyone who wishes to benefit from the content at a discounted price of 34.99 (the original event was priced at $129 per ticket!)
Growing up in a high-control religion can profoundly impact one’s psychological well-being. This is especially true for those raised in the Mormon faith. While many Mormons continue to find comfort and inspiration in their faith, others may struggle with the mental and emotional fallout of leaving the faith or questioning its teachings. Here are some tips for recovering psychologically from being raised in Mormonism:
- Allow yourself to grieve: Leaving the Mormon faith can feel like a significant loss, and it’s essential to acknowledge and honor those feelings. Give yourself permission to feel the full range of emotions, including sadness, anger, and confusion. Don’t try to rush through the grieving process; healing takes time.
- Seek support: Recovering from Mormonism can be an isolating experience, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Consider joining a support group for people who have left the faith or talking to a therapist who specializes in religious trauma. Surround yourself with people who will listen without judgment and support you as you navigate this challenging time.
- Build a new sense of identity: For many people raised in Mormonism, their faith has been a fundamental part of their identity. Leaving the faith can leave them feeling lost and unsure of who they are. It’s essential to take the time to explore and discover new interests, passions, and beliefs. This process can be both exciting and scary, but it can also be incredibly rewarding.
- Practice self-compassion: Leaving a religion can be a deeply personal and emotional decision. It’s common to experience feelings of guilt or shame, especially if you’ve been taught that leaving the faith is a sin. Be gentle with yourself and remember that you’re doing what’s best for your mental and emotional well-being. Treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion you would offer a close friend.
- Consider medication and therapy: If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety as a result of leaving Mormonism, know that you’re not alone. Many Mormons report taking medication for depression. Seeking professional help can be an essential step in your recovery journey. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional to see if medication or therapy is right for you.
- Take it one day at a time: recovering from being raised in Mormonism can be a long and challenging journey, but it’s essential to remember that progress is possible. Take it one day at a time and focus on the small victories along the way. Celebrate the moments when you feel more comfortable in your new identity or when you find a community that accepts you for who you are. With time, patience, and self-compassion, you can recover from the psychological impact of being raised in Mormonism.