Leading Religious Trauma Treatment Center

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Religion can be a source of strength in difficult times. Faith-based communities like parishes and congregations can provide a sense of belonging and support. Unfortunately, however, some religious leaders can abuse their power, and religious beliefs can be manipulated in negative ways to harm others. Likewise, loved ones can use religious beliefs to excuse controlling and even violent behavior. In response to this kind of behavior, a person can experience the effects of religious trauma. Left untreated, the effects of religious trauma can become discouraging and disruptive.


The good news is that the effects of religious trauma can be treated. At The Refuge, A Healing Place, located in Ocklawaha, Florida, our team of experts specializes in treating adults age 18 and older who are suffering from trauma-related concerns. Our clinically excellent residential treatment center offers religious trauma therapy that can help you or your loved one form a solid foundation for ongoing healing.

About Religious Trauma

Religious trauma includes negative experiences within a religious context that can lead to psychological and emotional distress. Religious trauma can include the following:

  • Traumatic rituals: When a religious group practices rituals or routines that involve physical pain or extreme conditions, it can result in religious trauma.
  • Cult dynamics: Religious groups that isolate their members from outside influences and control their members’ exposure to reading and viewing materials can cause religious trauma.
  • Fear-based tactics: When religious leaders consistently threaten divine punishment if their rules are not followed, anxiety can build up over time.
  • Excommunication: Being cut off from a religious community for failure to conform to their rules can lead to extreme feelings of isolation and rejection.
  • Authoritarianism: When significant amounts of power are given to only a few leaders, the demand for unquestioning obedience can lead to feelings of fear and powerlessness.
  • Gender- and sexuality-based discrimination: When religious groups promote discriminatory views of sexuality and gender, it can lead to religious trauma, especially for those who do not conform to the group’s norms.
  • Personal turmoil: Whether a loved one or group is consciously trying to maintain control over you or you’re forming different ideas from your childhood belief system and community, religious trauma can result.


People can often find solace, community, and growth through their religious communities. However, in the wrong hands, religion can be used as a tool to manipulate, control, and hurt others. Questions that can help someone identify feelings, behaviors, and events that may lead them to experience the effects of religious trauma include:


  • Does your loved one or authority figure use religious texts to justify harmful or abusive behavior?
  • Does your loved one or religious organization isolate you from people who do not have the same faith?
  • Do you find yourself feeling more guilt and shame than love and belonging?
  • Do leaders hold all the authority and prohibit people in the congregation from sharing their personal feelings?
  • Do you sense that you’re in danger?
  • Are you paying money for spiritual enlightenment?
  • Do you feel shamed or punished for questioning the beliefs of leaders who have different opinions?
  • Are you ranked or rewarded by how well you follow someone’s religious rules?
  • Is diversity of thought and identity discouraged?


If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you may be in a relationship or group that could cause you to experience the effects of religious trauma, which can lead to long-lasting negative impacts on your mental health, self-esteem, and well-being.

Signs and Symptoms of Religious Trauma

People who are experiencing the effects of religious trauma can exhibit signs and symptoms like those of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The effects of religious trauma develop from a traumatic experience or series of traumatic experiences in a religious context. Common symptoms and signs of religious trauma include: 

  • Flashbacks  
  • Avoidance behaviors 
  • Physical illness 
  • Nightmares 
  • Detached emotions 
  • Recurrent distressing thoughts 
  • Emotional numbing 
  • Compulsive religious practices 
  • Hyperarousal 
  • Social isolation 
  • Avoiding religious symbols and settings 
  • Distrust 

If left untreated, the symptoms of religious trauma can have a negative impact on a person’s well-being. If you are noticing signs of religious trauma, seeking professional guidance from a behavioral health expert could help you develop the tools to learn how to manage your symptoms and heal. 

Receiving Treatment for the Effects of Religious Trauma at Our Center

At The Refuge, clients can benefit from the residential and outpatient care we offer for those who are struggling with the effects of religious trauma. Stays at our treatment center are between 30 and 45 days. Clients can live in the cabins on our campus while participating in daily treatment. Our partial hospitalization program (PHP) stays last around 30 days. PHP clients have the option to stay in our cabins or leave our campus after treatment each day. 

All clients who receive care at The Refuge complete a series of evaluations that can help us better understand their medical backgrounds, symptoms, and therapeutic goals. This information can help us develop a personalized care plan for each person that is tailored to their unique needs. A client’s treatment plan may include the following religious trauma therapies: 

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT can help you identify and alter negative thought patterns that may be preventing you from healing.  
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): DBT can help you change negative behavioral patterns and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.  
  • Family therapy: We offer weekly family counseling sessions with our psychologists, therapists, and counselors. 
  • Individual therapy: In individual therapy sessions, you can meet privately with a counselor to discuss your feelings and get professional insight. These sessions are held weekly or biweekly.  
  • Group therapy: Primary and specialty therapists lead our group therapy sessions two times per day. Examples of group counseling topics include Carl Jung’s archetypes, psychodrama, triggers, and stress management.  
  • Trauma-sensitive yoga: Trauma-sensitive yoga can help you stop ruminating and improve emotion regulation.  
  • Expressive art therapy: This trauma-informed intervention encourages self-expression as a way of addressing emotional conflicts and reducing anxiety. 

In addition to our evidence-based and adjunctive therapies, we offer many services that can further help our clients heal. Depending on your needs, we can offer: 

  • Medication management services 
  • Basic medical care 
  • Elective services like massage sessions and bike access 

Our Treatment Center

The Refuge is located in Ocklawaha, Florida, about 1.5 hours from Orlando, Tampa, and Gainesville. Situated on 96 acres in the Ocala National Forest, our campus is tucked into the woods, featuring a river and abundant wildlife. The serenity of our campus can be a part of the therapeutic calm that we believe supports the stabilization of a person’s traumatized nervous system. We designed our campus as a supportive place where clients can recreate as part of the healing process. We have canoes, pontoon boating, a swimming pool, beach volleyball, a gym, and two outdoor group rooms with fire pits.  

We strive to create an inclusive space where clients can receive treatment that helps them address their emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. Our mission is to empower people through exceptional care. Our clients can benefit from the combined experience of our expert team of psychologists, therapists, counselors, social workers, nurses, psychiatrists, and physicians. These team members come from various backgrounds, but they each have expertise in treating the effects of religious trauma.

Continuing Care

Residential and outpatient treatment for the effects of religious trauma can enable clients to take essential steps toward improved health and wellness. At The Refuge, we also understand that your healing journey will continue after you’ve completed religious trauma therapy with us. For this reason, we focus on preparing you for continued success from the moment you arrive at our treatment center.  

The day you enter treatment for the effects of religious trauma at our campus, your team will begin to prepare for your eventual discharge. While you participate in our evidence-based religious trauma therapies and appropriate services that are part of your personalized treatment plan, we’ll develop a detailed aftercare plan you can follow when you get home.  

At The Refuge, your discharge plan will be based on your strengths, needs, and therapeutic goals. Your discharge planning team can design a plan that may include a referral to another program or traditional outpatient therapy, information about services in your hometown, and details about support groups that can benefit you. We involve case managers, clients, therapists, referral sources, and families in the discharge planning process.  

If you would like to learn more about continuing care after treatment for the effects of religious trauma or get more information about features of our treatment center, please contact our staff. A member of our team is available 24/7 to answer your questions and help you determine if The Refuge is the ideal place for you or your loved one.  

This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at The Refuge, A Healing Place. 

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