Toxic and Abusive Church & Ministry Culture

Trauma-Informed, Virtual
Coaching and Christian Counseling

Support for Those Harmed by Toxic, Narcissistic, and Abusive Leaders, Churches, and Organizations

Relationships are often the most challenging aspect of ministry and church life. Most of us understand that conflicts and relational challenges are typical, so we expect to encounter them. However, when what we thought was a “safe enough” place to build community or use our gifts and talents to serve others is toxic, the impacts are devastating. Whether you are a pastor, leader, or member, a toxic culture harms us relationally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. 

Covert narcissism is often found at the root and weaved throughout a toxic culture. Because it’s hidden from most members, victims who encounter the toxicity face endless self-doubt and confusion about what is happening and why. 

Those who identify the toxicity and attempt to make changes or expose it often encounter an entire system viciously turning on or abandoning them. 

Do Any of These Resonate With You?

Has your focus seemed to shift from serving to survival?

Does the whole church or ministry culture seem toxic?

Have you wondered how to help others see the destruction an individual is causing?

Do you find that a conflict resolution plan isn’t working?

Are you becoming more anxious as time goes on about future interactions?

Do you realize that no matter how hard you try to be more understanding, communicate clearly, or do “better,” nothing improves for long?

Have you researched toxicity and narcissism, and it seems to fit, but you’re not sure?

Do you feel paralyzed and don’t know what to do next?

Are you afraid of ruin if you expose the truth? (financial devastation, rumors/lies, smear campaign, loosing your job, loss of community, etc.)

Have you been labeled a trouble maker when you tried to expose a problem(s)?

Have you recognized this is harming you emotionally, physically, and spiritually?

Did you seek help within your church or organization, but you were invalidated, blamed, and left unprotected from further mistreatment?

Does it seem like people are taking sides, and you are part of an invisible war?

Does everybody seem to love the person who is mistreating you? Do you worry nobody else would see it as abuse?

Do You Need?

Answers

Are you constantly confused and questioning everything? 

Get the validation and insights you need to unravel your individual situation and clearly understand the truth about what is happening.

Direction

Have you tried everything, but nothing seems to be helping?

Get the personalized guidance, effective strategies, and roadmap you need to confidently choose your next steps.

Healing

Are you realizing just how deeply you have been impacted?

Get the trauma-informed support and direction you need to overcome the impacts and move forward in your life.

Services

Important!

Willow Life Coaching and Counseling, LLC does NOT provide medical services. Please see a licensed medical provider if you need medical and mental health services.

About Me

Bonnie Ronstrom

I’m a certified life coach, victim’s advocate, and pastoral counselor. I specialize in walking toward healing with those harmed by toxicity, narcissism, and spiritual abuse.

My passion is to provide the validation, support, training, and resources individuals and organizations need to overcome the devastating impacts of toxicity and abuse.

Whether you need a one-time consult or a place to heal, I look forward to meeting you and exploring how we can best work together. I work with clients from all over the world through virtual, trauma-informed coaching, Christian counseling (non-medical), groups, training, and consulting services.

Contact Me

Frequently Asked Questions

Christian Counseling

Do you take insurance?

My services are not medical, so they are not covered by medical insurance.

Who do you work with?

I work with English speaking adults from diverse cultures, countries, and backgrounds.

If you didn’t see an answer to your question, the link below will take you to more frequently asked questions.

What does working together look like?

The various parts of us (body, mind, soul, spirit, emotions, personality, abilities, etc.) are so intricately woven together that all aspects of us are impacted when we experience hardships and trauma. For this reason, I believe the most profound growth and healing occur when all parts of us are part of the process.

When we first meet, I’ll ask about your goals and what you hope to gain from working together. Some people have a clear picture of what they want, while others are overwhelmed and focused on surviving today (an expected impact of abuse and trauma). If this is your situation, we can start with your immediate needs, such as helpful information, clarity, a safety plan, or strategies to calm the chaos and anxiety.

I let each person decide how often they want to meet (permitting time in my schedule) and if they prefer to meet via phone or video chat.

As we talk, I discover your personality, experiences, preferences, and abilities. Getting to know you is an essential part of helping me present options and strategies that will be effective for you. I don’t believe a one-size-fits-all approach works. 

 

Part of being trauma-sensitive is that I’m always listening for potential triggers and roadblocks so that together we can develop creative ways to help you keep moving forward and avoid being retraumatized. 

Trauma alters how our brain and nervous systems function. Even when we are no longer in a harmful environment, having “trauma brain” causes physical problems and makes everyday tasks and interactions difficult. An essential part of healing is helping your brain and nervous systems return to healthy functioning. Thankfully, our brains are capable of changing and developing new patterns. Even though trauma is devastating, healing is possible!

People are traumatized when they go through deeply distressing events. When these distressing events are ongoing (such as in the case of Narcissistic Abuse), the impacts are profound.

When there is stress, our brains temporarily change how they function to help us respond to the stressor and recover afterward. Prolonged trauma causes our brains to take on new patterns of functioning. Certain brain areas become overactive while others under-function. These changes are sometimes referred to as “trauma brain.”

Here are just a few of the signs of “trauma brain.”

Lack of focus

Memory issues, Forgetful

Fatigue, Unmotivated

Anxious, restless

Emotionally reactive

Difficulty feeling connected to anyone

Difficulty thinking through challenging topics 

More impulsive

Drawn toward addictions (food, shopping, drugs, researching, etc.)

Sleep difficulties

Loss of hope or difficulty thinking about the future

Jumpy 

Overthinking & obsessing

Headaches, stomach and intestinal issues, auto-immune disorders

Skeptical of everyone and everything

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