Ponder Abra Goddard, Jia Apple; Saturday, June 25, 2022; 12:00 PM-12:50 PM – online
Although clinical psychology and professional counseling can serve as a profound aid in cult recovery, training in the counseling professions often leaves new clinicians unequipped to handle lasting questions of faith and self-trust in the aftermath of spiritual abuse.
The presentation will begin with a PowerPoint outlining the problem of spiritual abuse and resulting difficulties in establishing a reliable inner compass for ethical decision-making after leaving a cult, a cultic association, or abusive relationship. Following the PowerPoint presentation, the speakers will engage in a personal conversation exploring the topic in a non-hierarchical and reciprocal question and answer format. In a dynamic and co-creative conversation, Jia and Ponder will explore the topic of moral and ethical recovery in the aftermath of spiritual abuse and provide practical guidelines and personal anecdotes for others struggling with making moral and ethical judgements in the process of “real world” living. No solutions will be offered for the question of “how do I trust again” but the question will be addressed in other ways. The final part of the conversation will be directed towards providing useful suggestions to counselors and other involved care workers in their efforts to support cult survivors in developing a balance between strong personal ethics and equally strong self-compassion and forgiveness for human error.
Both presenters come to the subject of spiritual abuse and resulting crisis of faith from professional interest as well as personal experience in joining, living within and eventually leaving abusive religious groups. Ponder Goddard is a PhD student currently working on completing her doctorate in clinical psychology; Jia Apple is a cult survivor and a visual artist who has been writing about her experiences in fiction and non-fiction forms. They live together in New Mexico.
Ponder Abra Goddard
Graduate student, Alliant International University
Ponder Goddard was born into a radical “New Religious Movement” to two spiritual seekers who met in their new spiritual community. When she was very young her parents divorced and one parent remained in the community as a faithful adherent to the teachings and another parent became a “dissident” and decided to leave. Ponder’s sense of ethical and moral dilemma began early, as she learned to exist in radically different moral and historical universes based on each parent’s perspective of this new religion. She is a Ph.D candidate in clinical psychology currently working on finishing her dissertation, focusing on the domination-partnership spectrum in women’s sexual experiences. Ponder has worked in dual-diagnosis treatment centers and high school counseling environments. She has experience in counseling people through sexual trauma, spiritual crisis, and substance abuse issues. She is also an experienced stage actor, children’s entertainer, and solo performer. Ponder lives in New Mexico with her partner Jia and their cats Ethel and Jubilee.
Artist, Author, Speaker, Olivet Nazarene University
Jia is a lifelong artist specializing in watercolor portraits, oils and graphite realism. Having attended Olivet Nazarene University (ONU), she is otherwise self taught. Jia has a permanent pen and ink show on display at ONU. Jia’s work has been on display in many galleries throughout the years. Jia is a mural artist founding The Young da Vinci’s and having completed several public art murals in southern New Mexico. She continues to teach, write and speak on a variety of topics. Jia is a former cult member of fourteen years devoted to a life of service helping others who are facing the challenges of what it means to survive and thrive through integrity and self forgiveness in today’s world. Jia’s first book, Oft Made to Wonder, a memoir…. “Jia’s powerful memoir takes the reader back to the seventies and the challenges of a young adolescent girl, the eighth born of ten children. Raised by a schizophrenic mother and an angry father, she gives an inside look into the Apple home where the neighbors might hear the sounds of family prayers and then the screams from beatings…all in the same night.” Dennis Apple, M. Div, author Her second book, The Tell, is scheduled for release this May and an excerpt may be seen in the ICSA December, 2021 Journal. Jia’s work can be found at thepictureseer.com, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Etsy.