Welcome to a thought-provoking exploration of the intricate interplay between faith, spirituality, and the profound impact of trauma. In the labyrinth of our existence, we often find ourselves embarking on journeys of introspection, questioning the very beliefs and values that have long guided our lives. This transformative process, known as the “deconstruction of faith,” can be both a source of uncertainty and a gateway to profound personal growth.

Today, we delve into the profound beauty that can emerge from the intricate landscapes of deconstruction and reconstruction of faith. What happens when the paths of spiritual exploration intersect with the experiences of trauma? How do individuals grapple with the complex interweaving of their spiritual beliefs and their deepest wounds?

In this blog, we will embark on this profound journey, guided by the lens of a mental health therapist. We will navigate five key points, starting with an exploration of what the deconstruction of faith truly means. We will then delve into the pivotal role mental health therapists play in addressing the questions that arise during this process.

Furthermore, we will shine a light on the process of reconstructing one’s faith after experiencing trauma, shedding insight on the ways individuals find resilience, healing, and meaning in the face of adversity.

Join us on this enlightening voyage as we navigate the intricate relationship between faith, trauma, and the resilience of the human spirit.

What does that mean? Deconstruction of faith So a lot of times in people’s faith journeys usually when we’re little, our parents introduce us to their own religion and faith practices. A lot of times kids just. do what their parents did. And then as you get older, life happens and you start realizing, wait a minute, I need to think through this. And so deconstruction is like pulling apart the pieces of what you once knew of your faith and you start to figure it out on your own. So a lot of it includes doubting, and questioning, and sometimes people go. away from their faith. 

 Sometimes people reconstruct their faith. And so the deconstruction process is more, I would say it’s messy. It’s more the taking apart their faith and looking at it and asking, do I really want this to be my own or not? Does that help understand better? Chris McDonald: Yeah, I think so. Cause I’m wondering too, if people are asking, like, cause I get this with a lot of my clients, like, how can there be a God if they’re suffering in the world? Like these big, big questions. And I’m wondering if, if listeners get that with some of their clients too, and, you know, really trying to, Figure out faith, especially with trauma, because I know that when bad things happen to us or our family, can you talk a little bit more about that with trauma, what you’ve noticed that comes up?

Dawn Gabriel: Being a therapist absolutely is another reason why I deconstructed because I did like those are big and real questions. If like trauma is the hardest thing, like why did this happen? If they say there’s a loving God and he allowed this, I want no part of it. And so they attribute, yeah, it’s just, I mean, trauma is so confusing and hurtful anyway. And so a lot of times people need to ask those questions and wrestle. I wouldn’t say as a therapist, it’s not my place to give them the answers, but it’s my place to hold that space. Well, and part of that is just allowing them to be mad to question and just in being that safe grounding for them and letting them go in. I don’t answer that, but I asked them, why don’t we go into that? Why don’t you ask God where he was during this trauma? And I, and the first time I did that. In a session, I was terrified because I don’t know what they’re going to say. I don’t know. Like what if they fall apart in front of me or yeah. 

A lot of it is just even my own journey. I want to know why is this happening? And even in my book, I feel like I have a strong faith now, but even when my mom died, uh, let’s say eight years ago, I still had to go through again, like, God, I’m pretty pissed at you. Like I prayed. And you, and you didn’t answer the way I wanted you to, that’s another big one. Cause it goes long with trauma. Like we, but that’s the thing. We don’t, I don’t believe in prosperity gospel is what it’s called. Like if I do this, then God will do this. It puts us in this like bind. And so that’s similar to trauma. Like when people. It doesn’t mean they did anything wrong and God’s punishing them. 

Reconstruction of faith is a profound process facilitated by mental health therapists, particularly in the context of trauma. Clients often grapple with questions about the existence of a benevolent God in the face of suffering. Therapists create a safe space for clients to explore their spirituality experientially. They encourage clients to interact with their spiritual beliefs within the therapeutic setting, allowing them to emotionally connect with their divine figures. This practice helps clients find solace and healing, reaffirming that they are not alone in their struggles. It also dispels misconceptions, like the “prosperity gospel,” emphasizing the importance of attachment to a loving and supportive higher power. This ongoing journey towards reconnection and understanding can be profoundly healing for individuals who have experience.

Reconstructing one’s faith, especially after experiencing trauma, is a deeply personal and often transformative journey. This process involves questioning and deconstructing previously held beliefs and values, which can be triggered by life events such as divorce or perinatal anxiety. Mental health therapists play a vital role in guiding individuals through this intricate process, offering a safe space for them to explore their spirituality and connect with their beliefs on a deeper level. It’s crucial to recognize that deconstruction doesn’t necessarily mean losing faith entirely; it allows individuals to question and be authentic in their spiritual journey. Flexibility in thinking and an ongoing willingness to question and grow can lead to a more robust and authentic faith, even after deconstruction.

For those grappling with questions about faith or seeking to rebuild their spiritual identity, it’s essential to allocate dedicated time for introspection. Journaling and intentional exploration can be valuable tools. Seek supportive friends, mentors, or consider working with a spiritual director who offers a non-judgmental space to delve into your spiritual journey. Spiritual directors accompany individuals in exploring their beliefs, regardless of gendered or non-gendered language for the divine, helping you connect with your spirituality authentically. Remember that this process requires patience and self-compassion, allowing your spiritual identity to evolve naturally.

In the realm of mental health therapy, the process of deconstruction and reconstruction of one’s spiritual identity has gained significant attention. Deconstruction involves the critical examination of long-held religious or spiritual beliefs, often triggered by life events or questions. This journey can be tumultuous, with individuals questioning their faith and seeking answers. Mental health therapists play a vital role in supporting clients through this process.

During deconstruction, therapists should provide a safe, non-judgmental space where clients can express doubts, fears, and uncertainties. Rather than imposing their beliefs, therapists guide clients in exploring their spiritual inquiries. Deconstruction can often lead to a sense of loss, grief, or even anger, and therapists assist clients in navigating these complex emotions.

The subsequent phase is reconstruction, where individuals strive to rebuild their spiritual identity. Therapists can recommend specialized resources or books to aid clients in this journey. Encouraging connections with supportive communities that embrace questioning can also be beneficial.

In conclusion, mental health therapists play a crucial role in helping clients undergoing deconstruction and reconstruction of their spiritual identities. By fostering understanding, empathy, and guidance, therapists empower individuals to explore their beliefs authentically and construct a spiritual foundation that resonates with their evolving selves. This therapeutic journey is deeply personal and requires patience, compassion, and a commitment to honoring each individual’s unique path toward spiritual wholeness.

MEET Dawn Gabriel

Dawn Gabriel is the founder and CEO of Authentic Connections Counseling Center, a group practice consultant, and host of Faith Fringes podcast. She is passionate about helping people achieve freedom from what is keeping them stuck and invites others to take a non-judgmental look deeper into their spirituality and faith. Dawn has 20 years of diverse experience in the clinical mental health world and currently works with group practice owners offering consultation, spiritual direction, and soul care retreats. She believes that therapists need their own sacred place to slow down and let go of all that they hold in order to continue the transformative work with others. Dawn is a chai and wine connoisseur, a hiking trail enthusiast, a wife, and a mom of two boys who all love living and adventuring in Colorado.