Rawlings School of Divinity
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Scott D. Edgar
abusive religious culture, church safety, church trauma, codependency, reconciliation, spiritual abuse, spiritual safety
Counseling | Practical Theology
Getts, James A., "Spiritual Abuse in Augusta, Georgia: Reconciling the Spiritually Abused to the Local Church" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4614.
The purpose of this action-based research project was to address the absence of a therapeutic process wherein pastoral counselors at Life Management Group (LMG) can responsibly attempt to reconcile spiritually abused Christians to a local church in Augusta, Georgia. One hundred percent of clients citing spiritual abuse in LMG’s pastoral counseling department were abstaining from any religious activity within a community of faith at the outset of this project. Data was researched at the international, national, state, and local levels. The researcher concluded that published research related to the topic of spiritual abuse is theoretical in nature only and not application based. The project intervention utilized interviews, questionnaires, weekly counseling sessions, and observations to gather information from fourteen participating LMG clients and ten partnered local churches to survey the problem of spiritual abuse, discover, and apply spiritual safety best practices. This action-based research project sought to bridge the application gap in spiritual abuse research by monitoring real-time progress, milestones, and results of LMG clients attempting to reintegrate into a local church. The results of this research prove helpful to the pastoral counselors and church leaders in the city of Augusta as they consider implementing the concepts herein. The project revealed that the counselor-church partnership, combined with client-focused therapeutic modalities that address spiritual abuse, is successful in promoting client-church reconciliation. The results indicate that pastoral counselors can positively impact the success of spiritually abused Christians attempting to reintegrate into a local church.