Journey Free is dedicated to helping people transition out of harmful religions, recover from trauma, and rebuild their lives. Leaving a strict religion can be a total life crisis. 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.

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

Individual Coaching and Consultation >>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.

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
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There is hope


Marlene Winell at Texas Freethought Conference

Recent Writings:

  • Mental Illness Happy Hour

    Last week, I had the interesting experience of attending a recording of the podcast, Mental Illness Happy Hour (Yes, that’s what it’s called) with Paul Gilmartin.  This is a podcast hosted by a comedian but addressing serious issues of mental illness like depression and anxiety, particularly among people in the arts.  The episode I attended in Oakland was with the guest Jamie DeWolf, great grandson of Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard.  Jamie is a writer, filmmaker, and entertainer.  … Continue Reading

  • Steps in Recovery

    In my years of experience, I’ve found that for a lot of people, the leaving process takes time and has some important steps. This outline is not meant to be a formula or cover the issues in depth, but I hope it is useful for you to think about.

    1.   Get real (recognizing problems)

    This is when you start to get it that your religion is not really working for you.  It’s not making sense intellectually, … Continue Reading

  • “Life Sucks” – the first Christian Lie

    christianfictionThe first crime of religion is to convince us that the world is not okay as it is. Let’s think about the real immensity of this crime. Picture the canopy of stars on a clear night when you can see hundreds of faraway galaxies along with familiar constellations, beautiful shades of color on planets, and the occasional “shooting star.” Imagine the billions of light … Continue Reading

  • Reclaimers – A Name for Us

    OK, I think we can acknowledge we have a subculture now – a group of people who were once religious but have left and are reclaiming their lives. This group is special and identifiable. It’s not just exChristian; it’s exMormon, exMuslim, exJehovah’s-Witness, ex-cult, and ex-authoritarian. But we need a name. I believe the terms that refer back to religious worldviews are inadequate, such as unbelievers, deconverted, and apostates. If we were to go … Continue Reading

  • Christianity and Children


    artshameChristianity as a whole takes a dim view of children.  This is not unusual for the Abrahamic religions but Christianity takes it further.   We can benefit from understanding this because 1) our own Christian training can unconsciously impact the way we treat children, 2) our indoctrination can affect the way we view and treat ourselves in the most basic ways, and 3) many people in our culture are impacted by Biblical views … Continue Reading