112: Creating Healthy Boundaries within Mormonism Part 1

Mormon Mental Health Podcast will be creating a 5 to 6 part series on boundaries within Mormonism. Natasha Helfer Parker has invited the providers from Symmetry Solutions to discuss boundaries… starting with a general overview, then with children, following with teens, then as adults and other topics such as sexuality, etc. in panel format. We notice in our mental health work with primarily LDS clientele, that there are difficulties understanding what healthy boundaries are and look like… as well as how to implement them in a patriarchal and authoritative structure, where often people feel like boundaries have already been set for them by the system. Unfortunately, not having the ability to create healthy boundaries for oneself, one’s children, and one’s family… can contribute to issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, negative relational dynamics and even abuse. From simple things, like whether or not one feels personal permission to reject a calling, to more serious issues such as whether or not we should support children’s interviews behind closed doors where they are asked sensitive questions including about their sexuality…. this is a relevant topic to today’s Latter-day Saints. We hope you will join in the discussion through the comments section to share either things you want us to address, things you are concerned about, ways you disagree/agree with us, things that have helped you balance healthy boundaries, etc.

In this first part Natasha is joined by Sara Hughes Zabawa and Jana Spangler for a general discussion on boundaries and some of the common issues that tend to come up within a Mormon framework.

Sara received a Masters Degree in Social Work and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan. She completed her Bachelors Degree in Social Work with a minor is Women’s Studies from Brigham Young University. She has extensive experience working with trauma survivors and with teens and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety. Sara helps LGBT+ individuals and their families develop advocacy skills, foster acceptance, and explore the relationship between their sexual and/or gender identity with their religious beliefs. Sara also helps clients navigate difficult life transitions, especially those related to their faith, is a skilled yoga instructor and uses mindfulness training to support clients in cultivating self-care practices.

Jana Spangler, IAC is an Integral Associate Coach and dedicated student of personal growth strategies. Over the past 5 years she has continually attended seminars and retreats, participated in on-line courses, studied world thought and spiritual leaders through books and interviews, and participated in several support groups. In July 2014, after having been born and raised in the LDS faith (Mormonism), she experienced a near-complete collapse in her faith. Since that time, she has used the tools she has gained through her study to travel a path of increasingly fulfilling spirituality and has spent countless hours supporting and mentoring others who are experiencing pain in their spiritual life and relationships.

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.

2 comments for “112: Creating Healthy Boundaries within Mormonism Part 1

  1. Dietrich
    October 25, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    There’s a fairly famous example given by Bonhoeffer about a school boy and an intrusive teacher that may be helpful. Basically the claim is that what someone might “truthfully” state in a given situation depends on the concrete reality of the relationships that are operating in that context. http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/nursing/research/caringscience/Documents/Bonhoeffer%20What%20is%20Meant%20by%20Telling%20the%20Truth.pdf

  2. October 26, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Listening to this podcast was both encouraging and heartbreaking. It was encouraging in that the topic of boundaries and the need for them is being discussed in the context of a religious tradition that emphasizes obedience, deference to others in positions of authority, and negation of personal experiences when they don’t align with doctrine or culture. The heartbreaking part for me was that while we attempt to serve and support those who are harmed by Mormon culture/doctrine, in many cases we may do so while they remain in a context fraught with opportunities to be harmed again and again. I stood up and shouted “YES!” when Natasha mentioned that those in leadership positions are accountable for their actions, all the way up to the General Authorities. In my opinion, the issue of boundary violation and practicing beyond the scope of leadership expertise must also be addressed. Thanks for a thoughtful and timely podcast!

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