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Conference on Religious Trauma

This Conference is Online

Oct. 20th - 22nd, 2023

Featured Speakers

Join us online to hear speakers like:


Dr. Janja Lalich, Ph.D.

Janja Lalich, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of Sociology, is an international authority on cults and coercion. Researcher, author, and educator, she specializes in the dynamics of recruitment, indoctrination, and coercive methods of influence and control. She is Founder and President of the Lalich Center on Cults and Coercion, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide life-saving resources to survivors of cults, programs in the Troubled Teen Industry, and narcissistic families or relationships. Dr. Lalich is the author and/or coauthor of six books, including the now classic, Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships; her theoretical work, Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults; and Escaping Utopia: Growing Up in a Cult, Getting Out and Starting Over. In addition to working with survivors and their families, she leads workshops and educational sessions for government agencies, international intelligence agencies, private companies, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and leads online psychoeducational courses for trauma survivors, families, and mental-health professionals. She has also served as expert witness in civil and criminal legal cases.


Dr. Hector Garcia

Dr. Hector Garcia is a psychologist, researcher, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He is the author of the books: Alpha God: The Psychology of Religious Violence and Oppression; and Sex, Power and Partisanship. Dr. Garcia has published extensively on the evolutionary psychology of religion, warfare, politics, and PTSD. He has been featured on TED, PBS, and CSPAN. 


Dr. Josie McSkimming

Dr Josie McSkimming is a clinical social worker with over 35 years experience. She is currently in private practice in Sydney, providing counselling to couples and individuals, and also clinical supervision. She is an adjunct lecturer at the University of New South Wales, teaching Narrative Therapy. Her book ‘Leaving Christian Fundamentalism and the Reconstruction of Identity’ describes how power spreads like a chain throughout church
communities, shaping and re-shaping identity. Individuals are understood as not only subject to a form of judgment, but also exercise it, with everyone seemingly complicit in maintaining the stability of the church
organisation. Reconstruction is explored through the life-changing journeys of 20 people, who refuse & resist, engaging in various forms of anti-pastoral revolt.


Dr. Ling Lam

Ling Lam, Ph.D. is a Lecturer in the Counseling Psychology Department where he teaches courses on Complex Trauma, Crisis Intervention, LGBT Counseling, Family Therapy, Couple Therapy and Multicultural Psychotherapy. 


Ling is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a part-time practice in Palo Alto and San Francisco. He holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, a M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Santa Clara University, a M.S. in Electrical Engineering and a B.S. (with distinction) in Electrical Engineering, both from Stanford University. 


Pesach Eisen, MHC-LP

Pesach Eisen is a psychotherapist, researcher, and artist. Pesach explores the intersection of religious disaffiliation and mental health and is passionate about helping improve the quality of life of religious exiters and religious trauma survivors. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and neuroscience, as well as a Master of Arts degree in mental health counseling, from CUNY Brooklyn College.


Willie Cartwright, EMBA

WILLIE CARTWRIGHT is a speaker, entrepreneur, author, and advocate who holds a B.S Degree in Finance and an Executive MBA.Though he and his wife now own several successful businesses, Willie and his sister were raised by a single mother in the public housing neighbourhoods of Birmingham, Alabama.


As a child, he was relentlessly bullied due to his thick glasses and stutter. His stepfather was so verbally abusive that Willie threatened to kill him. Raised in a strict Christian household deep in the Bible belt, Willie walked away from organized religion and Christianity in 2015.


After doing exhaustive research on the topic, he wrote his most recent book: From Saved to Sane: My journey away from Christianity and how it has adversely affected the African American Community.


Mahrs Schoppman, MA, LMFT

Mahrs Schoppman is a queer & trans somatic psychotherapist with a private practice based out of his home office in the redwood trees of Occidental, California, the traditional territory of the Graton Rancheria and Coastal Mi-wok people.  Mahrs specializes in working with the queer community and with those who live with the embodied traumatic impacts of growing up in an oppressive religious environment.  He is passionate about walking with people on their journeys of reclaiming embodied knowing, sensation, emotional range, and vitality as a means of recovering from the learned dissociation that comes with restrictive religion.  Mahrs facilitates therapy groups for queer survivors of religious trauma and is in the midst of writing a book about his experiences and ideas around religious trauma.  


Christy Powell, LPC

Christy is a Texas based Licensed Professional Counselor and gender and sexuality therapist who uses mindful self-compassion to engineer emotional chemistry, relational bonds and sexual alchemy through kink, poly and queer affirming therapies for religious shame and trauma. He hosts and produces the Atheist Experience Network's Secular Sexuality and is a former member of the Atheist Community of Austin's Board of Directors, he practices under the name Valence Counseling in Austin, TX. 


Mary Burkhart

Mary Burkhart is a Religious Trauma Life Coach who stumbled upon her passion after 10 years of religious deconstruction. Mary grew up Apostolic/Pentecostal and was heavily indoctrinated into her faith. 


After over 20 years in the church, Mary could no longer deny the conflicts and contradictions in her life and in her faith. When seeking answers inside religion gained her no traction or true satisfaction to the burning questions about a “good god” and what “holy” truly meant, she began to search outside of religion; and that is when her world and her critical thinking were blown wide open.


Mary has since gone on to coach clients on healing from religious trauma, discovering their identity outside of their faith, finding confidence in and truly loving who they are, unapologetically, and so much more. 


Today, Mary continues to work with clients all over the world, from several different religious backgrounds, helping people, one at a time, replace the remnants of their toxic religious influence with unfathomable self love and awareness, and shameless acceptance of individual inner truth.


“As long as religion continues to exploit and manipulate people, I will be coaching. If I can help people to find, within themselves, that deeper love that they seek from a religion, I know that they can leave my program with the tools they need to tackle any obstacles that life undeniably throws our way.


-Mary Burkhart

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