Release and Reclaim Online Support Group

It can be challenging to recover from religion but you do not have to be alone in the process. You can get support from others who understand the harm of religious indoctrination and who are also working to rebuild their lives.

Release and Reclaim is a support group to help members release old, toxic beliefs and reclaim their lives. Recovery from Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) can include many different areas of life, and participants in the group are at a variety of stages. Group members are also varied, with backgrounds as Christian fundamentalists/evangelicals, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics, Muslims, and more.

This online group is confidential and is professionally led by Marlene Winell. We have a private group website as a base with 24 forum topics. We talk to each other on bimonthly video conference calls as well as on mentor-led chat sessions.

Among the areas of healing and growth are:
• Understanding clearly what you have been through, especially areas of spiritual abuse.
• Working through feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, grief, and confusion.
• Reclaiming your right to think and feel for yourself, and learning to trust yourself.
• Learning skills for self-love and self-care.
• “Coming out” to others and dealing with family and friends still “in the fold.”
• Overcoming irrational fears and ideas that persist from indoctrination.
• Addressing relationship and sexuality issues.
• Learning how to find new friends and community.
• Rebuilding your identity, your own values & beliefs, and a more personal “spirituality.”
• Learning to appreciate pleasure and enjoy life here and now.

As a virtual group, we do not have the same kind of contact as we would in person, but we try to make it as personal as possible. This is not just a discussion group or a place to rant about religion. We are devoted to healing and growth.  Dr. Winell is actively involved and brings to the group over thirty years of experience as a group leader. In both the written and verbal conversations, she facilitates so that the group is a safe place to be open and honest. She also helps the group learn to be helpful and stay focused on recovery. Over time, everyone benefits from the close relationships that develop.

As a group member you have access to:
• Profiles of other members and their stories of recovery from religion to inform and inspire you.
• Online discussions pertaining to all the topic areas above. You can join a thread or start a new one at any time.
• Current information about our upcoming events, such as Release and Reclaim retreats, and other events
• Articles, photos, videos and audio recordings from previous events.
• Exercises for healing and growth related to the topics we are discussing.
• Articles, podcasts, and videos of interest and humor
• Creative pages where you can view members’ work and post creative writing and art.
• Resources such as book reviews, and free downloads of books and articles, including Leaving the Fold.
• Information on volunteer opportunities to find out how to give to others.
• Conference Calls with 6-8 others and Dr. Winell. We discuss whatever is on your mind, and pay special attention to anyone who is in need of extra support.

Membership in the group is by invitation following an interview with Dr. Winell or staff member. This gives us both a chance to see if it is a good fit. A subscription is based on a sliding scale of $20-$40 per month.

If you are interested in joining, please make an appointment here to speak with us. This is a complimentary 20-minute chat for us to determine whether the group seems appropriate for your needs.  When you book the appointment please include the following information in the “Notes” section:  Name, age, phone, address, brief religious history, and reason for interest in group. If you would like to talk on Skype so we can have a video connection (recommended), please include your Skype name.

Following the interview, you will receive an email with 2 steps for joining: 1) Agreement to a set of group guidelines (such as confidentiality), and 2) A monthly subscription of $20-40 a month. You will then be added to the group, receive a password to the website, and the date for the next conference call where you will see some faces and be welcomed!

Comments from group members:
“The best part of being in the group was I felt like I had people who were ready at a moments notice to listen, understand, and support me. I also felt empowered by the fact that I could be an encouragement to them, and it felt really good to find ways to respond to others in the group.” – Carol

“There is great safety in exploring issues related to religious trauma with others who have shared similar experiences with the moderation and direction of an experienced professional. Marlene is skilled, intuitive and informed. She has a gentle but firm way of guiding a person through the healing steps and skill building needed for coping with the negative aspects of religious upbringing. ” – Drew

“It is priceless to be able to have people understand exactly what I’m going through, and many times they have dealt with the same situation themselves. I feel like I have a base of friends that I know I can go to with any struggle I am having. I know they will be there for me and help me out. It’s a great feeling. It’s important to know others are there at some of the lowest points in my life. It also helps me to help them out, too. I am forced to think about other issues that are brought up, and it feels good to be there for someone else.” – Kellee

“I’ve begun a wonderful journey to reclaim my life, free from so many religiously inspired burdens and with few regrets weighing me down. . . As a therapeutic group facilitator for Release and Reclaim, both with her online forum and special retreats, Marlene is generous with her time and patient with our group progress. Her clinical skills are refined and impressive. . . I found her book, Leaving the Fold, invaluable in my ongoing healing process from authoritative religion and other authoritative ways. Marlene uses the exercises from her book combined with her own understanding and experience which has really made me feel like someone out there does understand and can help.” – Frank

“This group has been a very important part of my recovery from fundamentalism. Knowing that I am not alone or crazy in the journey has been a great gift! Others’ stories, questions, struggles and insights have many times come across the net with perfect timing to encourage me in something I might be struggling with or questioning on any given day. I would highly recommend the group to anyone at any stage of questioning or leaving their faith.” – Anne




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