Journey Free is dedicated to helping people transition out of harmful religions, recover from trauma, and rebuild their lives.  We are here to help! Journey Free has developed programs for both individuals and groups. If you are recovering from religious harm, we have great respect for your strength and courage. Please know that you are not alone and things can get better.

Our founder and director is Marlene Winell, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion. She has been working in religious recovery for over 25 years and originated the term, Religious Trauma Syndrome.

Book a Free 20-minute Consultation >>We have several paths available for support. To help you clarify your needs and get started, we offer a complimentary consultation. This is available to individuals and helping professionals.

Group Support >>This is a confidential and personal online forum with video conference calls twice a month.

Individual Support >>Sessions by Skype or phone are available for individuals and professionals.

Weekend Retreats >>Three-day programs are held for small groups with presentations and guided activities for recovery.


Retreat coming up! Join us for three days

of activities for healing from harmful religion.

San Francisco, April 20-23. 2018.  For more information, go Here.  To discuss attending, Book a free consultation or call 510-292-0509.

Retreat group outside

Leaving the Fold – A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving their Religion

Our self-help book by Dr. Winell, Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion, has guidance and step-by-step exercises for recovery. This is a good starting point because it is more than intellectual analysis or personal stories. A workbook for doing the exercises in the book is available here as a free download. More information
Order online

There is hope


Marlene Winell at Texas Freethought Conference

Recent Writings:

  • Thoughts for the New Year

    In thinking about the new year, I was reminded that in leaving religion, everything is new. The adjustments related to losing comforts are quite serious but the liberating elements are profound as well. In essence, “reclaimers” go through a massive paradigm shift. I wrote about this in my chapter in the forthcoming volume, The Oxford Handbook of Secularism. The following is from that writing.

    Paradigm Shift

    To borrow the language of philosopher and historian of science, Thomas Kuhn, an individual … Continue Reading

  • Honor the Child

    The Christmas season is often busy and complicated with families and schedules and special events. There are standard criticisms of materialism and holiday angst. Yet at the center of it all there is a powerful image that speaks to all of us – the Child. It’s fascinating to me that once a year so many people stop everything, or at least pause, to acknowledge a Child.

    But who is this Child of Christmas and why does the image have such power? … Continue Reading

  • Announcing next retreat!

    San Francisco, March 10-13, 2017.  To discuss attending, book a free consultation with Marlene Winell on this site.

  • Dealing with Religious Family Over the Holidays

    At this time of year it’s hard to avoid dealing with the differences you have with your family. If you are a “reclaimer” (reclaiming your life after being religious) who has been raised in a religious household, holiday times can be very uncomfortable when other family members are still devout.  Having worked through these issues with many clients, here are a few guidelines that might be helpful.

    I’ll start by suggesting you write in a journal, starting now and continuing through … Continue Reading

  • Election Affecting Relationships
    This Trump debacle is affecting people’s relationships. People are angry and scared and unfortunately, feelings are getting misplaced. The election is hijacking personal bonds.
    I can give you several examples. A mother and daughter are facing a split because the daughter is so upset that her mother voted for Trump. Someone else lost several friends because she … Continue Reading