Symboulos Ministries is interested in helping those who have experienced trauma from the inappropriate use of spiritual authority, resulting in what has become known as spiritual abuse. In their book The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen (1991) make the following observation:
These same authors define spiritual abuse as follows:
Author Ken Blue (1993, p. 12) provides additional insight regarding the essence of spiritual abuse as compared with other forms of abuse in the following explanation:
Simply put, spiritual abuse, much like other forms of abuse, ultimately has to do with one party exerting control or power over another person, resulting in harm.
While sexual and physical abuse often cause profound trauma, spiritual abuse is no less serious to those who have been affected by it. In most cases, spiritual abuse does not involve a physical component. Nevertheless, it can be devastating and often results in harm, disillusionment, and confusion regarding how one perceives God and others, as well as how one believes God perceives him/herself.
Symboulos Ministries is able to help those who have experienced negative repercussions as a result of their involvement in authoritarian and/or spiritually abusive churches. The founder and lead counselor of Symboulos Ministries, Bob Dixon, has had over 30 years of personal experience as a member of a heavy handed/authoritarian “church movement” where he spent nearly 12 years exposing and confronting spiritually abusive practices before he eventually left.
Consequently, Bob is able to understand and address many of the problematic issues relevant to authoritarian churches and how abusive practices manifest in the lives of their members. As a result, Bob has become very familiar with peculiar nuances and subtleties often found in these types of churches and how they can result in problematic emotional and spiritual issues.
The hurt, disillusionment, confusion, depression, resentment, anger, unforgiveness, and pain one may have experienced as a consequence of spiritual abuse often result in distancing oneself from God and others, and at times, even causes an aversion to attending church altogether. While these feelings and emotions are understandable, they can also be debilitating and unhealthy. It is important that we resist the temptation to believe that living with these thoughts, feelings, and emotions in our hearts and minds is normative or God’s best for us. Our heavenly Father desires for us to be free in Christ and, in turn, to freely love Him and others without remaining crippled by our experience, regardless of how others may have sinned against us (manipulation, coercion, shunning, lording over, marginalizing) or how we may have been debilitated by our own sin (bitterness, resentment, anger, unforgiveness).
Symboulos Ministries is excited to offer biblically based counseling within the context of individual and/or family therapy, as well as the opportunity to participate in local Support Groups. Whether it be through individual, family, or group counseling, the goal remains the same, to facilitate the Lord’s intervention in our lives that we might enjoy His peace, grace, and freedom once again.
If you are interested in having a confidential interview with Bob or participating in individual, family, or group counseling in your area, please fill out the Confidential Contact Form.
Blue, K. (1993). Healing Spiritual Abuse. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity.
Johnson, D. & Van Vonderen, J. (1991). The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse. Minneapolis: Bethany House.