Story Workshop for Spiritual Abuse & Healing

Do you want to reclaim your story, heal your body, mind, and spirit, and rediscover the joy and goodness in life?

Our mission at The Allender Center is rooted in the belief that our stories are best understood and healed when we share them with others. We’re honored to introduce the new Story Workshop for Spiritual Abuse & Healing—an immersive experience designed to guide you through the complex process of healing from religious trauma and spiritual harm and reclaiming your faith.

Offered in a live, interactive, online format, the Story Workshop for Spiritual Abuse & Healing is accessible from the comfort of your own home.

The next Story Workshop for Spiritual Abuse & Healing is May 16-18, 2025, and will be held online. If you would like to be notified when when registration opens, please complete the form below and our Admissions Team will be in touch at that time. If you have any other questions, please contact us at

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What is Spiritual Abuse?

Spiritual abuse is always a distortion and exploitation of God’s power and authority used to manipulate, control, or harm others’ bodies, personhood, relationships, and/or autonomy through shame and fear. At its core, spiritual abuse is a misuse of power, implied or explicitly named as authorized by God, and can happen in any relationship or community where trust is exploited.

Spiritual abuse is more than a psychological struggle; it’s a deeply embodied experience that leaves us disconnected from our desires, our internal compass, and even our own bodies. Whether it was inflicted by a person in authority, such as a pastor, thought leader, or parent, or by a trusted peer or group, the damage is undeniable. Trust becomes elusive, and you may feel unable to connect with others or even trust yourself. This insidious abuse can occur in various settings, from childhood homes to supposedly safe institutions like campus ministries, churches, or trusted relationships.

There’s a lot of heartache. There’s a lot of confusion in our bodies. In spiritually abusive contexts, oftentimes the ways in which your messiness is actually reflecting where you need healing and hope gets only re-coded as sin or moral failure: a lack of faith, a lack of hope, a lack of love.” -Rachael Clinton Chen

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What can you expect at the Story Workshop for Spiritual Abuse & Healing?

During this 3-day workshop, you will experience:

  • Live Interactive Learning: Join Rachael Clinton Chen and Allender Center experts for engaging sessions on understanding spiritual abuse within family and church systems. Explore topics like narcissism and empower yourself to acknowledge past harm. This workshop focuses on naming your experiences, allowing you to process emotions such as grief and anger, and taking steps toward healing and spiritual reclamation.
  • A Supportive Community: You are not alone on this journey. Our workshop brings together survivors who share your pain, creating a community of understanding, empathy, and strength.
  • Guided Facilitation: Our skilled facilitators specialize in addressing the intricacies of trauma. They will expertly guide you as you explore your story in a safe and supportive setting.
  • Hopeful Healing Pathways: Reclaim your capacity to receive the goodness of God in a safe, compassionate environment.
  • Holistic Approach: Experience a healing and restorative approach, including body-centered exercises. The workshop schedule prioritizes rest and sustainability, with self-care resources provided for use during and after the workshop.

You will also receive:

  • A pre-workshop Story Writing Exercise and a companion Video Guide to support your personal reflection and writing process prior to the workshop.
  • Access to video recordings of all Story Workshop for Spiritual Abuse & Healing teaching sessions for 60 days after the workshop ends.


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“It’s hard to trust community and connection if you don’t trust yourself. And this is where I do think the spirit is very generous and very gracious and will rise to the occasion to help us, to do some of that laboring work on our behalf. And so I think it’s actually a pretty profound leap of faith.” -Rachael Clinton Chen

The past does not have to continue to define your future. This Story Workshop can help you grieve what may need to be left behind and step into more joy and goodness as you heal your mind, body, and spirit.

When you journey into your story with the support of others, you can begin to break free from fear and shame and embrace the transformative power of your story. 


Who This Workshop Is For:

The Story Workshop for Spiritual Abuse & Healing is designed for individuals who have encountered spiritual harm or abuse, whether it happened in the confines of their home, church, ministry, school, or within a personal relationship. It may have been a single incident or an ongoing experience that has left a lasting impact.

Preparing for the Workshop

Consider a particular story of spiritual harm.

Prior to attending, you will be asked to consider an aspect of your own story that connects you to the deeper categories of trauma or harm as it relates to your spirituality. This story may be from your childhood through early adult life and may relate to your family of origin, church context, youth group or campus ministry, or any other part of your life as it relates to your spiritual journey or experience of spiritual authority. You will be invited to write and bring that story to read in a small group setting. Sharing these stories in a safe, kind space held by a facilitator is part of what takes this work from the head to the heart. More information and guidance will be provided after registration.

Prepare your space.

All small groups and teaching sessions will take place online. Stable internet connection with video and audio capabilities is required to participate. Locate a space in your home or other getaway location that is comfortable and offers privacy throughout the duration of the workshop.

Still wondering if this is for you? Read more about what our participants had to say:

“[The small group time] was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had, and this is saying a lot because I have experienced many different small groups! I was blown away by my facilitator as well, especially how emotionally engaged she was with every person’s story in the group.” — Story Workshop participant


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