I thought that for Deseret News, this was a well done piece. It’s very comprehensive in nature and it’s addressing an important conversation that is often not spoken of. It’s complicated by the very strong messaging we find in LDS culture regarding the expectations, importance of and social placement status generated by missions. I hope you all take the time to read it. My colleague, friend and MMHA board member, Randy Moss is featured as one of the clinicians offering his opinion.
I did a podcast back in 2015 with Dr. Holly Welker (writer, critical analyst and past missionary) and Daniel Lancaster (clinical social worker and past missionary) addressing missionary trauma. It is also worth the listen:
Reaching out to Dr. Welker she had the following critique in regards to some of the messages within the recent article which I second:
“‘In addition to misunderstanding grace, some missionaries “have a very unrealistic understanding of success,” said Gibson. He worked with missionaries who believed in the “sin model,” a cultural — not doctrinal — belief that a lack of convert baptisms or even feelings of discouragement are due to insufficient prayer, scripture study or faith.’
If missionaries misunderstand grace, it’s because the church’s teachings on it are so rotten. Also, the ‘belief that a lack of convert baptisms or even feelings of discouragement are due to insufficient prayer, scripture study or faith’ might be cultural rather than doctrinal, but official church texts contribute substantially to that belief.
In other words, this is still victim-blaming in some ways; this is still the church failing to acknowledge how its teachings and expectations contribute to missions being so bloody hard.”
In January 2018 I did a podcast with Randy Moss and Braxton Duxton (both mental health clinicians) on some of the issues we saw with the new missionary questions in regards to mental and spiritual health.
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST can be reached at natashaparker.org and runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She hosts the Mormon Mental Health and Mormon Sex Info Podcasts, is the current president of the Mormon Mental Health Association and runs a sex education program, Sex Talk with Natasha. She has over 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.