Protecting Family Bonds: Examining Religious Disaffiliation Through a Spiritually Informed Family Systems Lens

  • April Knight
  • Elisabeth Esmiol Wilson
  • Lindsey Nice
Part of the AFTA SpringerBriefs in Family Therapy book series (BRIEFSFAT)


Religious disaffiliation of a family member from a shared family faith can have a significant impact on family relationships. Family members often experience significant amounts of loss, feelings of disconnection and disorientation, and search for reconnection across differences. In this chapter, we will describe our research on families going through these experiences and will use a case study to demonstrate ways in which therapists can help families navigate these challenging processes. Goals include helping family members cultivate insight into their own responses to disaffiliation, helping them to process their emotions around the experience, working to foster improved distress tolerance skills, and encouraging effective communication that builds connection and creates healing between members.


Religion Disaffiliation Spiritual Family bonds Family therapy Religion Power Justice 


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Copyright information

© American Family Therapy Academy 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • April Knight
    • 1
  • Elisabeth Esmiol Wilson
    • 2
  • Lindsey Nice
    • 2
  1. 1.Private Marriage and Family Therapy PracticeTacomaUSA
  2. 2.Marriage and Family Therapy ProgramPacific Lutheran UniversityTacomaUSA

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