Are you, or is someone you know, in crisis? Please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for 24/7, free and confidential support from a trained counsellor (Australia only).

For non-emergency situations, please contact the Olive Leaf Network for confidential assistance and referral to support services

Suggested Resources for Therapists

Suggested Resources for Mental Health Professionals and/or Frontline Service Providers to Upskill in Supporting Former High-Demand Group Members.

Suggested Resources

Please contact us for a list of suggested resources, including books, therapists, websites and other resources that the Olive Leaf Network recommends to any mental health professional or frontline service provider wishing to upskill in the area of supporting clients in religious disaffiliation, spiritual abuse, and/or high-demand group exit recovery.  This list is not intended to be exhaustive, but provides a great starting point and refers to more formal avenues for training and upskilling programmes.

Any therapist working with clients who have experienced harm in a high-demand or religious context needs to be aware of the complex interplay of factors in this environment; especially as the harm may come from a combination of family members, religious or group authority figures, and the systems and structures of institutions of which they were in some way dependent on.  These factors may have not only contributed to harm or abuse in the first place, but additionally may have placed obstacles in the way of a person accessing help or putting a stop to the harm. 

In particular, it is important to be sensitive to the reality that many survivors of religious trauma or abuse have been taught not to trust outsiders to the group, including mental health professionals or others in positions of authority.  If they have not yet left their group, there may also be people close to them who are dissuading them from therapy.  They may also have been taught not to assert their own mind, choice or sense of autonomy with perceived authority figures, such as mental health professionals or medical personnel.  With this wider social environment in mind, therapists must be particularly sensitive to encouraging relational trust, safety and sensitivity with the client and especially, to building their sense of agency, including in the professional-client relationship itself.

“Thinking of Leaving” and the “High-Demand Hand”

The Olive Leaf Network endorses and uses two easy-to-use resources in particular, in their support of those who are thinking of leaving a high-demand group; the “High-Demand Hand” and the “Thinking of Leaving?” booklet.

The “High-Demand Hand” image is displayed in this useful article outlining the term ‘high-demand religious group’.  It is a visual depiction of all the key areas of life that are usually impacted by a person disaffiliating from a high-demand group, and can be used as a basic assessment tool for the client to identify areas of their life that need recovery or integration work.  It graphically shows the wide impact that disaffiliation and/or excommunication can create; there are very few other life events or crises that radically impact so many areas of a person’s life simultaneously.

The “Thinking of Leaving?” booklet is a thorough, thoughtful compilation by a group of former members who experienced religious disaffiliation and excommunication. It is a useful, easy-to-read guide through many key areas of life that are impacted in these experiences, and can be used both in preparing for disaffiliation and in practical steps towards building self-agency.

Olive Leaf Network maintains a non-publicised database of Australian based mental health therapists or other professionals with experience, training and interest in these areas.  If you are a therapist or similar professional and would like to be on our database, please contact us at support@au.oliveleaf.network.

Get In Touch

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Please be reassured that all communication with the Olive Leaf Network will be held in strict confidence. Your personal information will only be shared with others beyond our network with your permission, unless you or others are in danger, in which case we will inform relevant authorities.

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