Room to Thrive

Room to Thrive


Boundaries are your support.

If you need support getting through an abusive relationship or sexual assault, call TEARS by dialing *134*7355# free from your mobile.

We want to help you!

Artwork by to Thrive
I'd like to let you know about an upcoming conference that may interest you. It's called The Conference on Death, Grief and Belief, and it will be held in Portland, OR, July 15-17.

The conference focues on unpacking toxic theologies and supporting those who've experienced childhood religious trauma, with a specific focus on harmful religious perspectives related to death and grie.f

The conference speakers include a diverse collection of scholars, psychologists and others.

Earlybird prices end Feb. 15, so attendees can save $50 by registering before that date. Here's the website:
Source: Room to Thrive
"Get over it" might be one of the most retraumatizing things that someone can say to an abuse survivor. Variations on the phrase like, "let that s**t go," or "move on" and even "trauma is not your fault, but it's your responsibility to heal" are equally dismissive.

Almost every single cult survivors I've met has heard the above phrases, even from well-intended loved ones who genuinely want to see us heal and thrive. The issue is that these phrases, and even those good intentions, come from a fundamental misunderstanding of trauma, how it wires the nervous system, and the long process that cult survivors face in integrating to the "real world."

To quote psychoanalyst Lorna Goldberg, from her article in a 2006 issue of theCultic Studies Review,

"I have worked with several individuals who told me that entrance into the world outside the cult is complicated by the fact that their cultic upbringing has left them deprived of many coping skills to adapt to that task. They have difficulty adjusting to the problems that the external world presents and difficulty dealing with a variety of situations that others would find to be commonplace.

The lack of mastery of these coping skills is exacerbated by the former cult member’s impoverished sense of identity, poor self-esteem, and fear of the outside world.

Furthermore, cult members are constantly exploited and shamed. This treatment leads many into believing they are failures because of their lack of success in the cult. This is true even if they left as a result of their recognition of cult hypocrisy or felt proud of their ability to leave a destructive environment."

Goldberg ends her article saying that cult survivors can lead rich, full lives.

However, our culture's tendency to want to obscure or speed the recovery process does more harm than good.
One of the best ways we can support someone in their healing is to hold space for their experiences without trying to fix anything.

To quote Room to Thrive, "There’s a great deal of healing potential here if we’re willing to sit with survivors without giving in to our impulse to fix it, solve it, make it go away, or in this example, ascribe responsibility."
"There is a common piece of advice that flows through many cultures once touched by Christian missionaries: Do unto others as you would have done to yourself.

What few of these well meaning warriors of Christ had ever paused to contemplate was that others might not wish to have done what you would wish for, and that this adage, taken to it’s conclusion, has always been one with the potential for causing catastrophic harm."
This relates to my previous post. Stop telling POC to be calm. Deal with the source of our fear instead!

This applies to our parenting as well. Rather than expecting our kids to calm down when they’re upset, let’s address the root issues and provide them with what they need.

Image: Room to Thrive

Source: Room to Thrive
Hey! My research partner and I are conducting a survey on the ways in which religious support and substance use can impact perceived adversity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey should take no more than 10 minutes, and all responses will remain anonymous. You have the right to withdraw at any time. Feel free to distribute the link as you see fit. Click the link in my bio for the survey. We really appreciate your time!
Hey! My research partner and I are conducting a survey on the ways in which religious support and substance use can impact perceived adversity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey should take no more than 10 minutes, and all responses will remain anonymous. You have the right to withdraw at any time. Feel free to distribute the link as you see fit. Click the link in my bio for the survey. We really appreciate your time!
While I haven't often detailed my deconstruction experience or my journey out of a deeply conservative, evangelical background—religious trauma is an issue that I care deeply about.

While I may have opportunities in the coming months to offer my story in a more comprehensive manner, I wanted to share this article, not only because it's powerful, but because a good friend of mine—who co-founded the Religious Trauma institute—was quoted.

If you're interested in following Brian's work, I highly recommend his page: Room to Thrive

For anyone that has ever sent me a note of encouragement or expressed appreciation for my voice—you can also thank Brian, as he has been an integral part of my journey.
This is such an important message. Please read Brian’s (Room to Thrive) insights below.

I don’t trust folks who want me to feel calm before I feel safe.

I've spent much of my life appearing calm, pleasing and appeasing, and feeling powerless. When well-meaning folks encouraged me to talk deep breaths with long slow exhales, I dutifully went along as best I could even when it was difficult to breathe.

The calm they promised almost never arrived, and the experience often reinforced what I already knew — I could survive their good intentions like everything else, by going along and doing what was expected even though it didn't feel safe. What looked like calm was actually dissociation.

We humans require some level of safety before our nervous systems allow us to be at ease. A long exhale is a beautiful thing when there's enough safety to sink into the experience of calm. Without safety, however, trying to feel calm is putting the cart before the horse.

I never felt truly at ease until I discovered the calm after a primal roar, the quite strength after harnessing my aggression, and the safety that only ensues from moving into and through fight/flight physiology.

I don't think I've ever successfully taken a deep breath that resulted in me feeling calm before I felt safe. However, I've come to appreciate how my lungs naturally expand after escaping to safety and the spontaneous sigh of relief that flows easy after neutralizing a threat.

Perhaps there is a shortcut, and we can breathe our way to safety. Maybe I wasn't trying hard enough or doing it correctly. In my experience, my nervous system didn't need slow easy breaths, it needed to feel strong in order to feel safe, and those breaths were quick and forceful inhales and exhales.

It's hard to describe, but there's an earned sense of safety that comes from doing what needed to be done and saying what needed to be said. Before achieving this sense of safety, deep breaths felt forced. From a place of safety, they come more naturally as a result of trusting my ability to defend and protect myself.

Each person's journey is unique and there are many ways to be human. I'm offering my experience as an alternative to what, for me at least...

Resolve Religious Trauma and experience safety, vitality, and connection. Religious Trauma Therapy & Trauma-informed Coaching. I help survivors resolve religious trauma, so they can live a life of vitality, meaning, and connection. -Brian Peck, LCSW

Operating as usual

Photos from Room to Thrive's post 04/26/2022

Dear Church,

You don’t get to blame Satan for sexual abuse when you created ideal conditions for it.

🔥Satan didn't create the religious beliefs, practices, and structures that dismiss, hide, and excuse abuse.

🔥Satan didn't design the religious structures that are favorable to perpetrators.

🔥Satan didn't propose "handling" religious abuse behind the closed doors of the church.

🔥Satan didn't hire lawyers to silence survivors with NDAs and tithe-funded settlements.

🔥Satan didn't forgive and quietly reassign perpetrators to new positions of power to exploit others.

🔥Satan didn't objectify victims by fixating on "purity" while systematically ignoring consent.

🔥Satan didn't weaponize forgiveness against survivors while shielding perpetrators from responsibility.

🔥Satan didn't grant religious leaders authority that can't be questioned.

🔥Satan didn't value the reputation of the church over the safety of survivors.

You did.

That’s on you.

⛪️ Satan didn't make you do it. These structures were crafted, reinforced, and defended by pastors, deacons, board members, elders, denominations, etc.

Church, you don't get to blame Satan for your support of unsafe contexts that are glaringly obvious to anyone who understands how sexual abuse works.

👹I used to believe Satan was the prince of darkness, but that was before I discovered how hard it is to shine a light into the inky darkness of some churches.

Please stop blaming Satan and take responsibility for the many ways you have dismissed, perpetuated, and excused abuse.

Here’s to being reflective and doing better.



Resolving Trauma is Hard Work.

Here’s to being kind to yourself and connecting with things that bring you joy.💜

With compassion,


P.S. It’s okay if finding joy is difficult right now, and it’s okay to borrow some from others who have a little extra.

Photos from Room to Thrive's post 04/19/2022

One way to reinforce your Boundaries is to celebrate & enjoy the space they create for you.

We often think about boundaries as defenses to protect us. While this is true, it's equally important to remember what we are protecting.

I'm saying "no" to defend my wellbeing from external control, AND to create space for what I find delightful & beautiful.

Boundaries are about more than the removal of threat, They also create conditions for us to experience & enjoy safety.

Semi-permeable Boundaries allow you to more intentionally chose what stuff you keep out and what stuff you let in.

What if boundaries are about both defending ourselves and creating space for us to revel in?

What would you like to do with the room your boundaries open up for you?

How would you like to embody and live into the safety your boundaries create for you?

It can be difficult to set boundaries, and you deserve to enjoy the reward for your effort.

Here's to intentional boundaries and a life you can love!


Photos from Room to Thrive's post 04/15/2022

If the Easter story is meaningful to you, feel free to keep scrolling, as I have zero desire to dissuade anyone from narratives they find useful. However, for those of us who are deconstructing narratives that no longer serve us, here are a few random thoughts about Easter…

“Clearly, death does not mean very much to someone who knows that after three days he will rise again!" -Rudolf Bultmann (BTW, Bultmann was a New Testament scholar)

At best, Good Friday represents a “temporary loss” a “kinda forsaken” and a “limited suffering” especially in light of the Easter story.

My experience tells me that love matters because the stakes are high, and there are no higher stakes than our mortality and a loss that is final.

I guess that’s why the Easter story feels like spiritual bypassing or avoidance to me, because of how it cheapens love by removing the stakes.

I don’t find the story of Jesus "giving up his life" very compelling when the reality is he maintained it.

The resurrection story feels a bit insincere — like a play where the actor dies on the stage and then stands up again after the curtain falls.

Resurrection stories offer to save us from our mortality — the very thing that gives life meaning and allows us to experience love.

I cannot conceive of love absent the reality of loss. Life is precious precisely because it is limited. To love deeply is to recognize that which is loved will not always be there.

"And so it may be, after all, that love is a little flower that grows on the crumbling edge of the grave. So it may be, that were it not for death, there would be no love, and without love all life would be a curse." -Robert Ingersoll

I would love to hear your random thoughts on how you are deconstructing the Easter story.

Here’s to a life you can love against the backdrop of your mortality!


Photos from Room to Thrive's post 04/14/2022

How old were you when you learned you were complicit in killing Jesus?

I was 7.

I still remember the guilt, the shame, the confusion. How was it that my benign childhood behavior was implicated in the murder of an adult I had never met?

The crushing guilt of murder is what Religious Trauma feels like for many of us on “Good Friday.”

Perhaps that younger version of you needs a bit more compassion and care this week. Here are a few thoughts you’re welcome to adapt to your own experience.

Dear younger version of me,

How dare anyone blame you for the death of an adult you never knew?!


You were not responsible for the actions of historic figures, deities, or adult caregivers.

When you stepped on a crack it didn't break your mama's back, and your behavior had zero to do with the death of Jesus.

You should have been allowed to be a kid and do kid things without adults threatening to harm themselves or others.

That kind of shaming and controlling behavior by adults was completely unacceptable and you deserved better.

It was not your fault the adults in your life cared more about their beliefs than your wellbeing.

It was not your fault adults projected their trauma onto you instead of taking responsibility for their own behavior.

I want to offer you NOW the love and compassion that was unavailable to you THEN.

You deserve to be loved without fear, guilt, or shame.

With love,

-Brian (a more grownup and compassionate version of me)

Photos from Room to Thrive's post 03/29/2022

Self Healers don’t heal alone.⠀

This is particularly the case when healing from complex and interpersonal trauma.⠀

The idea of the “self healer” shares a lot in common with the myth of the self-made human.⠀

We're social creatures, and healing requires more connection than rugged individualism.⠀

It's no surprise that "self healers" often sell community and connection under the guise of DIY.⠀

What is a "community of self healers" if not a group of humans who value connection in the healing process?⠀

“Self healing" is often clever marketing that leverages shame in the name of empowerment.⠀

“Self healing" often has a myopic focus on the individual while dismissing the surrounding context.⠀

“Trauma replaces patterns of connection with patterns of protection.” -Deb Dana⠀

The idea of “self healing" can further reinforce patterns of protection and disconnection.⠀

We need each other, and there's no shame in that.⠀

I want to be clear that I’m not dismissing or undermining the role we play in our own healing. Nor am I suggesting that healing requires working with a trauma expert or a licensed professional.⠀

While there are many ways to heal, I’m cautious about claims that undermine the value of human connection in the healing process.⠀

I welcome your feedback and insights.⠀


Photos from Room to Thrive's post 03/28/2022

Deconstructing Spirituality⠀

An invitation to be more inclusive and intentional when applying social constructs like spirituality to ourselves and others.⠀

For those of us who have deconstructed a fundamentalist religious faith, it’s easier to see the impact of religious dogma than the subtle overreach & control of spirituality.⠀

While deconstructing power & control dynamic in religion, be aware of how they show up in the construct of spirituality.⠀

Be curious about the premise that all humans are spiritual. Notice how closely this assumption resembles theological explanations of human experiences.⠀

There are as many valid ways to be human as there are people on the planet.⠀

Spirituality may represent freedom for one person while being experienced as oppression by another.⠀

I’m not suggesting we discard the construct of spirituality, I'm cautioning against applying it universally to everyone without their consent.⠀

Here are a few ideas for being more inclusive.⠀

Ask others whether they identify as spiritual instead of assuming they are. Better yet, be curious about what they find meaningful.⠀

Try out different words to describe ineffable experiences instead of filing them under "spiritual"⠀

Be curious about the human experience and leave space for the wonder of not knowing.⠀

Here's to being a meaning-making human without assuming others need to create meaning in the same way.⠀

I would love to hear your thoughts! Is this all just semantics, or is it important to be thoughtful about the words we use to describe the experience and identity of others?⠀


Photos from Room to Thrive's post 03/26/2022

Life Update: These past six months have been challenging and I’ve needed to step away from social media to focus on my life offline.⠀

While I’ve been away:⠀

🦠 I contracted and recovered from a moderate case of COVID-19⠀

😥 Mourned the loss of a loved one⠀

👥 Began seeing clients in-person two days a week in addition to a full online caseload ⠀

🔨 Made significant progress on our restoration project following our house flood (this week we slept in our actual bed for the first time since last July)⠀

😊 Continued doing valuable personal work in therapy⠀

💡 Reflected on work/life balance and how I want to show up online⠀

This last item is where I would love to get some feedback from you.⠀

As I began to reengage with social media, how can I better support your healing journey?⠀
What’s missing in the religious trauma and deconstruction space?⠀

What topics need more attention?⠀

Whose voices would you like to see supported and expanded?⠀

What would you like to see LESS of in the religious trauma and deconstruction space?⠀

I appreciate your perspective and look forward to hearing your insights.⠀

Here’s to being more intentional as we resolve religious trauma together!⠀

With compassion,⠀


Photos from Room to Thrive's post 01/17/2022

Here’s to honoring MLK’s dream and not ignoring the nightmare he spoke of.

“However difficult it is to hear, however shocking it is to hear, we’ve got to face the fact that America is a racist country.” –Martin Luther King Jr.

Peace is not a virtue in a society that does not value your humanity.

MLK had a few things to say about obnoxious peace…

“If peace means keeping my mouth shut in the midst of injustice and evil, I don’t want it.

If peace means being complacently adjusted to a deadening status quo, I don’t want peace.

If peace means a willingness to be exploited economically, dominated politically, humiliated and segregated, I don’t want peace.

True peace is not the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”

–Martin Luther King Jr., from his Sermon “When Peace Becomes Obnoxious”

Here’s to aggression in the service of safety and connection.

Here’s to doing active antiracist work in the service of justice.

Here’s to working toward a peace that is not obnoxious.


Eve - Stars from Streetlights 01/01/2022

Eve - Stars from Streetlights

This song from Stars From Streetlights is brilliant!

Many of us carry the weight of unquestioned and unexplored stories around with us. This song reimagines the story of Eve from a more empowering place.

“I am curious and I am not ashamed.”


Eve - Stars from Streetlights

I’ve been thinking about Eve
She ate the apple from the one forbidden tree
She was curious, oh god, he was furious

He said, “I told you you would surely die, if you believed the serpents lies. It’s dust you are, to dust you will return.”

Who am I without you?
I am strong enough without you
Can I live without you?
I am strong enough

I’ve been eating from that tree
My opened eyes, I’ve found my sight
Now my mind has been set free
I am curious
And I’m not ashamed

I’ve left the garden far behind
The serpent’s words were never lies
It’s dust I am, to dust I will return

Who am I without you?
I am strong enough without you
Can I live without you?
I am strong enough

I just wanted to be powerful
I wanted to know the truth
But you were keeping secrets
When I was at my weakest
I just wanted to be powerful

Who am I without you?
I am strong enough without you
Can I live without you?
I am strong enough

Words and music by Austrian Banman and Steve Birss

Eve - Stars from Streetlights Eve means life. Within the Christian mythology, Eve is the first woman and she has come to represent many things for many people. For some, she represents th...


Two years ago, I was laying in bed scrolling through Facebook when I encountered the original meme "Trauma is not your fault, but healing is your responsibility."

Like many of you, I had a visceral response to the dismissive "but" and the individualistic notion that "healing is your responsibility."

After jotting down a few thoughts in the notes folder of my phone, I went to bed thinking I might eventually create a post to share on my page.

When I awoke the following morning, I knew I had to say something. Survivors needed to know...

Trauma is not your fault. [period]

So, I copy/pasted my thoughts from my notes folder, created the accompanying meme, and hit publish.

I had no idea the post would be shared over 41k times, reach over 2 million folks on Facebook alone, and be republished on The Mighty, Yahoo Lifestyle, and numerous blogs and websites.

It still feels surreal that these late-night musings sparked an ongoing conversation about trauma and our collective responsibility to support the healing process.

I've learned so much from all of you who have shared your insights in the comments and via messenger and email.

Thank you!

Here's to the collective wisdom of this amazing community!


Trauma is not your fault. (Period)

(Take all the time you need for that to sink in)

Over the past several years, the following phrase/meme has made its rounds.

“Trauma is not your fault, but healing is your responsibility.”

There’s something about it that never sat well with me, and last night I jotted down a few of my thoughts. I’d love to know what you think.

Folks who’ve experienced trauma are familiar with the dismissive “but” that often follows, “trauma is not your fault, but...”

“...but I should have fought back.”

“...but I shouldn’t have gone to that party.”

“...but I should have seen the red flags.”

“...but what were you wearing?”

“...but healing is your responsibility.”

This last “but” appears well-intentioned while still carrying a similar weight of individual responsibility for a process that is rarely possible on one’s own.

It has that familiar individualist ring to it that has folks grabbing for their bootstraps while standing alone in their suffering.

Trauma is not your fault. Period.

*long pause*

I can’t begin to describe the importance of that full stop or the healing potential contained within the space that follows.

As soon as we add a “but...” we knock some of the air out of this realization. It feels like a punch in the gut or that sinking feeling that accompanies “...but I should be over it by now.”

While the idea of personal responsibility comes with a bit of hope, it also comes with pressure. In my experience, this burden outweighs the hope for many trauma survivors.

When pressure outweighs hope, it’s no longer empowering. Embodied hope has the potential to be a resource for a survivor’s nervous system. Pressure, on the other hand, comes with the risk of overwhelming one’s nervous system or keeping it stuck in freeze/collapse physiology.

Trauma is already an isolated place, and making healing “your” responsibility remains limited to one person. Trauma already feels like a personal failing or weakness, and “your responsibility” adds one more shortcoming to your list, that of not yet healing.

Something happens when we add a well-placed full stop at the end of, “Trauma is not your fault [full stop]”

This pause creates some much-needed space. A space that is frequently punctuated with a sigh of relief. It’s a place without a dismissive “but...” or added pressure of any kind. This pause may be the first time a survivor feels heard and understood.

It’s important to hang out here for a while.

There’s a great deal of healing potential here if we’re willing to sit with survivors without giving in to our impulse to fix it, solve it, make it go away, or in this example, ascribe responsibility.

To be clear, I believe in survivors’ capacity for healing, which is why I’m passionate about helping to create a supportive and empowering context. I’m not convinced that saying, “...,but you’re responsible for your healing” creates a supportive context.

We don’t heal alone. We’re social mammals who require the presence of another nervous system for critical developmental tasks, and our ability to co-regulate is vital for healing trauma.

Humans need to feel safe, strong, and connected, and we’d be well-served to keep these in mind as we search for what to say next.

So, what do we say to a trauma survivor after they’ve had the space and time to acknowledge trauma is not their fault?

Here are a few possibilities:

“...and healing is possible.”

“...and you have the capacity to heal within safe and supportive relationships.”

“...and I’m committed to being here with you as a resource for your nervous system.”

What would you add?

Again, I assume the original idea is offered with the best intention. However, language is powerful and “but” is often dismissive and may do more to reinforce trauma physiology than to create a context for healing.

I also recognize that each person’s experience is unique, and the original phrase may be helpful for some folks. If that’s the case for you, I validate your experience and celebrate what works for you!

If, however, you’ve felt uneasy when you encountered the original phrase, I’d love to hear your reaction to my rambling thoughts above.


Resolve Religious Trauma

Hi, my name is Brian Peck, I’m a licensed clinical social worker, my pronouns are he/him, and I understand religious trauma.

You deserve to work with someone who understands the life-altering impact of adverse religious experiences. Not only do I get it, I’ve devoted my professional life to helping survivors resolve their religious trauma.

As a Therapist, I help survivors resolve their religious trauma with body-based therapy and resources.

As a Coach, I empower folks who have been harmed by religion, to clarify their values and learn to trust themselves with trauma-informed coaching and resources.

Videos (show all)

Transforming Shame
You are enough.
Religious Trauma & Race
An Experiment in Connection
Post-traumatic Growth
It's okay to be human.
Social Connection while Social Distancing
Trauma is not your fault. [full stop]
How Can Curiosity Help You Thrive After Religion?
There's Power in Your Story
You do not have to be good.




Religious Trauma Therapy available in Idaho
Trauma-informed Coaching available online



6126 W State Street Suite 406
Boise, ID

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