096: Ecclesiastical Advice Gone Wrong

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.

The Duluth Model


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.

3 comments for “096: Ecclesiastical Advice Gone Wrong

  1. A Happy Hubby
    March 9, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    So sorry both of you had these bad situations.

    Thanks so much for taking the time and go through the pain of recounting what you had in hopes it will make things better for others. I appreciate that both of you are willing to help others.

    I hope you both can continue to heal.

  2. Joy
    March 22, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    Thank you. Very informative podcast. And so sorry for your guests’ experiences. I recently ran across a piece written about my brother, William Ickes, a social psychology professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. His research indicated this: “Abusive men are thin-skinned and hypersensitive,” said Dr. Ickes, who last spring received UTA’s Distinguished Record of Research Achievement Award, the University’s highest award for sustained research excellence. “The generality of their bias is important, because it means that the ‘problem’ can be found in the minds of abusive men, and not in the behavior of their female partners. There is usually no reason at all to ‘blame the victim’ in cases like this.” If only all church leaders understood this…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *