Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT and Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife, PhD have a joint discussion where they share their recommendations to bishops, parents and members from the perspective of their clinical experience and training in sex therapy. They start by discussing their position on masturbation being problematically perceived and treated in our current Mormon culture and recommendations on healthier framings that integrate and support the law of chastity. They also discuss suggestions as to how worthiness interviews could be shifted from current traditional approaches to those that would have less potential for harmful power differentials, cultural shaming, unnecessary discipline approaches and in worst case scenarios, ecclesiastical abuse.
Both Natasha and Jennifer have come to their positions through their training in their respective fields, human development, and human sexuality as well as through working with a primarily Mormon clientele for almost 20 years each. They have counseled with hundreds if not thousands of members, and take seriously the often unintended harm that comes from teaching and implementing correct principles in incorrect ways. This podcast might be found useful by individuals wanting to work through personal sexual issues, those wanting to develop healthy boundaries and parameters within church protocols, parents wanting suggestions on how to manage, protect and normalize adolescent sexuality within a healthy gospel construct, and ecclesiastical leaders who are looking for a professional’s perspective as to the implications some of our current rhetoric and traditions can have on members in any given congregation.
Natasha and Jennifer have been involved in providing therapy services and educational forums both in and outside of church settings, as well as presenting at national trainings and conferences in regards to relational and sexual topics, with Natasha being awarded the Schiller Prize for her presentation on Mormon Sexuality at the 2013 AASECT Conference (co-presenter Adam Fisher). Jennifer’s dissertation work focused on studying Mormon women and their responses to an LDS upbringing and framework from a sexual perspective. They currently serve on the board of the Mormon Mental Health Association which they both played roles in founding just last year – due to the variety of mental health needs they see within the Mormon population and their desire to have an increase of respectful, evidence-based, cultural competency in those who participate in the treatment of an LDS clientele. Both Natasha and Jennifer received their undergraduate degrees in Psychology from Brigham Young University. Jennifer went on to get her PhD from Boston College and Natasha her masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Friends University.
Many thanks to The Lower Lights for the beautiful bumper music and to Brian Dillman for audio production of this podcast. Natasha Helfer Parker runs a private practice in Wichita, KS and writes at The Mormon Therapist for Patheos: Hosting the Conversation of Faith.
Donations to Mormon Mental Health are tax deductible and go directly to support the costs of producing the podcast. If and when donations exceed these costs, they will go to support trainings, research, materials development, projects of the Mormon Mental Health Association and financial support for those who need help affording appropriate therapy services.