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-What is ‘religious trauma’ and how does it relate to codependency?
-How do abusive dynamics, patterns, and behaviors in certain religious create and compound codependent behaviors in their followers?
-What are ways you can heal from codependency caused by religious trauma?

Welcome to episode 94! This week, I sat down with Susanna Guarino, LMHC, to discuss how and why religious trauma can contribute to the development of codependency. Susanna shares with us what religious trauma is and how religions, institutions, and individuals can lead their followers to lose their identity in caring and catering to the group. We differentiate between healthy versus unhealthy service to help you distinguish the two in your own life. We conclude with Susanna sharing ways to heal from codependency caused by religious trauma, including checking in with yourself, giving yourself space, and creating safety to have your feelings. It’s a must-listen!

More on this episode’s guest:

Susanna Guarino is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in private practice seeing clients in NY, RI, AZ and FL. She specializes in helping couples reconnect and heal their relationships, and helping individuals who have experienced religious trauma.


Get Susanna’s freebie: How to Give a Kick-Ass Apology at (scroll to the bottom of her home page)

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More deets on the episode:

We begin with hearing Susanna’s definition of codependency and ways she has observed it in her clinical practice working with couples. She provides a brief overview of The Gottman Method and how codependency connects with the Four Horseman of conflict: critcism, defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt.

We then turn our focus to Susanna’s speciality with religious trauma. She describes what relgious trauma is and it’s interconnection to codependency. Susanna describes how religions often use fear and shame, discourage speaking up, encourage a loss of individual identity in exchange for identity with the group, and “spiritual bypassing.”

We explore what healthy versus unhealthy service, worship, adherence, and participation in religions looks like. Susanna encourages us to investigate whether a group is truly egalitarian and whether they treat women and children with dignity. Also, being mindful that there is not use of strategies like the “thought-terminating cliche” that Susanna mentioned from the work of Bridget McNulty.

We conclude with ways to heal from codependency created by religious trauma. Susanna describes how we need to start to check in with ourselves, find a therapist who treats religious trauma, work through the feelings from our religious abuse, and give ourselves a lot of space to find out who we are.

I’ll be sure to have an episode about codependency with God which is definitely part of my experience!
Questions for you:
What came up for you as you heard Susanna’s definition of codependency?
How do you see yourself engaging in those Four Horseman? Criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness in your relationships?
Do you have experiences of religious trauma and abuse in your upbringing? What memories came to mind as you heard Susanna describe what religious trauma looks like.
How do you sense negative experiences with religions/institutions/leaders/peers are impacting you in your current life as it relates to your codependency?
From the steps that Susanna described on how to heal from codependency caused by religious abuse, what can you integrate into your life to support your own healing?

Thank you for coming on Susanna!

And thank you, dear listener, for listening!
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