New Tool To Help Cult Survivors. From an EXJW
Thank you from all us cult survivors. Still Totally ADD
After twenty years of private practice as a licensed psychotherapist, Bonnie Zieman is recently retired (although she occasionally conducts therapy sessions via Skype for current or former JWs). As both a therapist and a former, born-in Jehovah’s Witness, Bonnie has the skills, knowledge, education and experience with which she can offer others help to leave high-control environments and recover from mind-control, coercion, manipulation and/or abuse. Bonnie is the author of the following books:
- The Challenge to Heal: A Recovery Guide to Help Reclaim Your Life After Leaving Any High-Control Group
- The Challenge to Heal Workbook & Journal
- Exiting the JW Cult: A Healing Handbook
- Fading Out of the JW Cult: A Memoir
- Bibliotherapy: 350+ Psychological Resources to Help With Recovery From: Manipulation & Exploitation, Domestic & Sexual Abuse, Undue Influence, Mind-Control and Cult Abuse
Bonnie Zieman is also on the Board of Review of the Open Minds Foundation which is dedicated to exposing and combating all forms of undue manipulation, mind-control and coercion.
This is much needed as many therapists do not understand the very real damage and emotional abuse that we have suffered as a result of being in a cult.
Many don't even recognize that religions such as JWs are a cult!
Well done Bonnie!
Bonnie's books are very good.
I have her other one "exiting the JW cult. A healing handbook"
It has some great strategies.
Her advice for working with suicidal clients is incredibly superficial and potentially risky.
She argues she can get a prospective client to put aside suicidality for a contracted period. Those of us working in the field of mental health know far more is involved. It is irresponsible to persuade a client to have a no-suicide contract and then fail to offer them after hours help-lines or strategies to step away from suicidal urges.
Many clients may "agree" to put suicidality to one side for a stipulated period but then have urges that cause them to take steps towards suicidal behaviors against their better judgement. In such cases, they may need referral to community mental health services so they can be assertively followed up.
Among other things, it is critical to assess clients suicidal plans so that specific risk factors can be addressed such as a client who has accumulated a stash of toxic medication and is at risk of taking it.
Therapy can be a matter of opinion and judgement. Different therapists can approach a situation different ways. Coming from a place where I lost someone very close to me in my extended family to suicide, I realize the seriousness of always putting every safety net in place imaginable if the threat is real. Hotlines, doctors, family, friends, you name it. I'm sure Bonnie would agree with that if asked.
I must say, I am reading Exiting the JW Cult and it is just as healing for me as actual therapy, which I have had. It is hard to put into words what it means to be understood by a professional and have your feelings and thoughts validated. This cult makes you second guess yourself. It is part of the programming. Using some of the recommended practices for healing like journaling my feelings daily to get them out has been enormously helpful. My confidence is building and I am putting together concrete plans for my fade. I am a pimo elder married to a devout witness. I am 4th generation. She is 6th. The potential fallout is overwhelming.
Anyhow, I look forward to finishing this book and reading more of her works. I fully recomend her books as a substitute for therapy, if it is not available or possible, or as a supplemnt to your therapy.
More books about jw's the better! Hopefully more therapists will consider her work and implement their own style along with her information. Just having a (another) professional call it a cult is a good start and the fact that she is an ex jw would be more appealing to the ex jw community at large I would think.
There are plenty of help and information out there for survivors of those groups. Many therapists that don't specialize or understand cult dynamics, however, may not be helpful at all to many people under the negative influence on one of those harmful groups.
Personally I don't think that limiting the practice to JWs is a good idea as that perpetuates the idea that the JWs are this unique group that no one else understands, which is just not true. That belief is part of the brainwashing.