Natasha Helfer Parker interviews Kelly and Kendra in regards to the effects they felt as a result to ecclesiastical counsel that was not helpful within the context of their experiences involving abuse. Kelly talks about being in an abusive relationship with her ex-husband and the resistance she encountered as she began to pursue divorce proceedings. Kendra discusses her experience as a sexual assault victim and how she was directed towards a repentance process instead of the help she needed to address trauma treatment. Both women share specific details of their stories that some may find difficult to listen to and that may trigger difficult emotional responses.
The hope of this podcast is to draw attention to the limitations that LDS ecclesiastical leaders, who are not trained theological nor mental health professionals, have when dealing with particularly difficult and complicated family, marital and trauma situations or dynamics. Leaders are often very well-intentioned and care deeply for the members of their congregations. At the same time, they carry a role within the religious context of representing God’s will for those they minister over. And so when counsel or advice is inappropriate to the situation at hand, the damage can leave a lasting impact that affects the spiritual and emotional health of the parties involved for years to come. Therefore it is imperative that leaders gain a better understanding of when to refer to capable professionals, and when the issues at hand are even beyond the scope of what LDS Family Services can offer. It is also important for members themselves to understand these types of limitations and allow themselves the authority to self-advocate and set appropriate boundaries when needed.
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She writes at The Mormon Therapist for Patheos: Hosting the Conversation of Faith, runs Mormon Sex Info and is the current president for the Mormon Mental Health Association.