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Journey Free helps former fundamentalists with trauma of leaving


47of74

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47of74

Some people doing some good work in this world

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Kevin is one of a dozen participants at Journey Free, a retreat held this past September in San Francisco. The four days are designed to help people recovering from authoritarian religions to shake off the shackles of guilt, shame and fear. The gathering is evenly divided between men and women who range in age from their 30s to 60s, and the setting is sublime — a stunning, multimillion-dollar home with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the bay. It’s owned by a tech-industry employee and former retreat participant who offered to play host.

Journey Free mainly attracts former evangelical Christians, but also ex-Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roman Catholics and Orthodox Jews. Some have just recently left the faith, but others departed decades ago and are still haunted by their past.

Psychologist Marlene Winell leads these retreats, which happen once or twice a year. She is the author of Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion, and she coined the term religious trauma syndrome (RTS). Winell says its symptoms closely resemble those of post-traumatic stress disorder (such as intense fear and issues around self-worth). She’s been urging the mental health community to take it seriously for nearly 30 years.

Throughout the retreat, Winell introduces a series of exercises designed to boost self-esteem and generate self-compassion. When she instructs the group to make a list of 25 things they like about themselves, several find it difficult. Felicity, the nurse from the Midwest, can only come up with four, and one of them is, “I make a good cup of coffee.” Music executive Andy has a similar challenge: “I feel guilty if there’s anything I like about myself. I was taught any talent or gift I had was supposed to be for the glory of God.”

 

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Palimpsest

Yes, but ...  

First reaction and I have not researched this one properly yet.

 Marlene Winell may have experience in this area.  And she may be well-meaning.  I don't know.  I look a bit side-ways at Marlene and her ilk.  Sometimes cult recovery programs are just other cults.

 "Journey Free" is not free and neither are the retreats.  The first consultation is free.  That is all.  And then there is a $120 charge - and then the costs may add up.  Astronomically.

http://journeyfree.org/book/

There are definitely commonalities among spiritually abusive religions, cults and sects.  But I think she is looking at things way too broadly.

Call me a cynic, but it is learned cynicism.

 

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Briefly

I'm half cynic on this.  It could be a really good thing, so many escapees are woefully unprepared for the real world.  But at the same time, I have reservations.  I guess I will reserve judgement for the moment.

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13 hours ago, Palimpsest said:

Yes, but ...  

First reaction and I have not researched this one properly yet.

 Marlene Winell may have experience in this area.  And she may be well-meaning.  I don't know.  I look a bit side-ways at Marlene and her ilk.  Sometimes cult recovery programs are just other cults.

 "Journey Free" is not free and neither are the retreats.  The first consultation is free.  That is all.  And then there is a $120 charge - and then the costs may add up.  Astronomically.

http://journeyfree.org/book/

There are definitely commonalities among spiritually abusive religions, cults and sects.  But I think she is looking at things way too broadly.

Call me a cynic, but it is learned cynicism.

 

Disclaimer: I know nothing specifically about this particular program.

However - I'm with @Palimpsest - Red flags are popping up on this one, to me. I admit it is feelings, not facts at this point.

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Dreadcrumbs

I share some of Palimpsest's concerns. I'm wondering how many fees of $120 are collected on average from Dr. Winell's clients? One retreat (no matter how helpful) is unlikely to undo years of damage.

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Palimpsest
5 hours ago, Dreadcrumbs said:

I share some of Palimpsest's concerns. I'm wondering how many fees of $120 are collected on average from Dr. Winell's clients? One retreat (no matter how helpful) is unlikely to undo years of damage.

I did a bit more digging.  Of course we all know that Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is not an official DSM dx.  This means that none of her services are covered by your insurance.

You may attend a 2.5 day retreat if you have $900 to spare.  But rest assured, she really cares.  If you can prove your income is <35K her sliding scale allows you to attend for a mere $600.  Paid in full one week prior to the retreat and non-refundable.  Personal checks or PayPal only.

The retreat gets you a couple of Bountiful Breakfasts, Luxurious Lunches, and Delicious Dinners.  (I am not kidding about the alliteration, I wish I was.)   I'm not sure the dormitory accommodations are up to much.  She's had a couple of complaints.

You also get some lectures, group chats, time to bond with other survivors, sing-songs, improv poetry sessions, walks in woods, and other rather woo-woo therapeutic stuff. 

Remember that last time you were forced to go on a work "retreat" and had to do that touchy-feely trust building stuff? 

If you liked it - this may be for you.  I am an introvert and would rather run several marathons than do that ever again.

Oh, and this:  Otona Maki.  Google it.  Let me just say that no-one will ever smother me in a sheet and rock me while I pretend to be back in the womb!  Holy claustrophobia!

I expect she does get some clients.  Rich ones.  She may not do any harm and she may even do some good.  If you are into that sort of thing.

My advice - find a therapist in your area who is experienced with PTSD and cult issues.  And save the rest of your money for a peaceful weekend in a nice B&B!

 

 

 

 

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Dreadcrumbs

@Palimpsest I did some more digging to, but not as much as you did. 👍 I do find some comfort in her being a licensed psychologist because this means she's accountable to some licensing body. That being said, I think it's a bit odd that she is charging this much for this particular population.

All that being said, going off of some tweets, it seems her writing has helped some folks. I second the suggestion to see a therapist with experience with PTSD at the very least.

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usedbicycle

I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss her methods. For one, I could really use some therapy to get over religious trauma that still affects my life today, but the only therapists my insurance will cover are Licensed Clinical Social Workers and have no idea what I'm talking about in the first place. They gave me tools to cope with depression but were never able to address root causes. 

I have found a psychologist with some experience with cults and PTSD in my area but she charges $150/session and doesn't take insurance. Apart from her, I haven't found any real psychologist who charges less than $100/session. 

So my own therapy has been reading books like Marlene's "Leaving the Fold", which helped a lot. I also highly recommend "Living the Secular Life" by Phil Zuckerman. Spending $600-$900 on a weekend is a ton of money but something I would consider if I knew I could really benefit from it. 

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refugee
15 hours ago, Palimpsest said:

You may attend a 2.5 day retreat if you have $900 to spare.  But rest assured, she really cares.  If you can prove your income is <35K her sliding scale allows you to attend for a mere $600.  Paid in full one week prior to the retreat and non-refundable.  Personal checks or PayPal only.

Well, I've long suspected that some fundies are fundies in part because they're so gullible.

ETA: just realized this was a generalization. Hopefully fixed it adequately.

Adding to that: It appears that she's recognized a need, and is trying to meet it. I don't want to sound like I'm sneering at her for not providing a charity. I don't expect her (especially because she has a professional certification) to work for free. I'm just a lot more cynical than I used to be.

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