But what Im asking about it is therapy to resolve issues specifically related to life growing up as, and leaving, the witnesses.
I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "issues specifically related to life growing up as, and leaving, the witnesses."
How was it helped or not helped those who have discussed it with a therapist?
I began seeing a therapist when I was 18 and still a baptized JW in good standing. Over the last 20 years, I have met with about ten therapists on different occasions. Most were only for a few sessions. I received long-term treatment from three of the therapists.
None of these therapists were familiar with the specifics of being one of Jehovah's Witnesses, so I would have to explain the rules and conditions and how these affected my life. When I first saw a therapist at 18, I had very mixed feelings. I had been hospitalized for severe depression and desperately craved help, yet I had been taught not to trust worldly philosophy and that psychiatric medications could open up one's mind to demon influence. I wanted to talk about how guilty I felt about attending college and how jarring it was to wrestle directly with evolution and the charge that the Biblical account was only one of many creation myths. At the same time, I felt disloyal talking about the Witnesses at all. A worldly person could never understand, and my depression was reflecting badly on Jehovah's happy people. I received medication, but did little towards resolving core issues in these early sessions.
I didn't mentally leave the JWs until I found other exJWs online in 1995. I read Crisis of Conscience, Apocalypse Delayed, The Orwellian World of Jehovah's Witnesses, and as much information as I could soak up online. The experience was liberating yet frightening. As I watched the JW dogma collapse, I felt as though someone had pulled the rug out from under my feet. All of the questions that had been stilled as a JW rose up en masse: Is there life after death? Is there a God? Is existence futile? Is there any reason to try to be a good person? Is sex before marriage wrong? Is abortion wrong? With freedom came the responsibility to research these questions, think about them carefully, and decide for myself. I felt overwhelmed and didn't see much hope for mankind without a God to step in, tidy things up, and create paradise.
By that time, I was very tired of the fundamentalist Bible view, and I craved a different language and symbols for spirituality. I began reading about Eastern philosophy--Tao, Zen, Buddhism. I also began seeing a therapist who was also a Zen Buddhist. She listened carefully and taught me to listen carefully to myself. Part of my therapy was to keep a daily journal in which I let my thoughts flow from my head to the page without censoring. I'd find myself dancing all around an issue for pages, rationalizing, avoiding. When I noticed myself doing this, I'd begin a line with the phrase, "The truth is . . . " and the truth would come out. "The truth is I am scared." "The truth is I don't know." etc. This was a simple but powerful lesson.
Facing these inner demons was extremely painful. Therapy was like puncturing a festering boil--there was some immediate relief, but it was a nasty, messy business at first.
Because of a a change in jobs and insurance, I later began seeing a different therapist. Her approach was cognitive therapy. I chime in with proplog2 and Nathan Natas in highly recommending it. Cognitive therapy efficiently targets what caused us so much harm as JWs--distorted thinking and beliefs.
Here is a list of 10 common cognitive distortions:
In the thread below, I describe what I learned in a seminar based on Albert Ellis's rational-emotive therapy:
I'm also very grateful for the information, friendship, and support I received online. I still remember how wonderful it felt to find other people who understood the language, unspoken rules, and taboos. Here was a place to express the shock, anger, and sadness. We also laughed a lot and told a ton of dirty jokes. I also highly recommend dirty joke therapy.
Please e-mail me if you'd like to talk, Moxy.
Edited by - GinnyTosken on 20 October 2002 14:56:40
Edited by - GinnyTosken on 20 October 2002 15:8:23