Dallas, TX Spiritual Abuse Conference

October 3, 2020, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. CST

Sponsored by SMU School of Education & Human Development, SMU Perkins School of Theology, & ICSA.

Because social-distancing rules will still be in place in the Fall on SMU Campus (including no gatherings larger than 50 people), we will be moving the conference to an ONLINE format on Saturday, October 3rd, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

This means we can open up registration to an unlimited number of participants. However, we will need to close registration on September 26th, 2020 so we can email you zoom links, PowerPoints, handouts, etc.


  1. If you have already registered and CAN ATTEND the conference on the 3rd of October - you don't need to do anything. We will send you all the links and packets of information.

  2. If you have already registered and CANNOT ATTEND on October 3rd - please email Kathy Silva at ksilva@smu.edu for a refund up until September 1st.

  3. If you have not registered as yet, AND WANT TO REGISTER, please go to https://secure.touchnet.net/C21403_ustores/web/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCTID=1768&SINGLESTORE=true

Cut off Date for registration will be September 26, 2020.

Fees will remain the same as before -

$15 for students and alumni;

$25 for community members;

$50 for mental health professionals who would like continuing education units (CEUs), and

$0 for SMU faculty and conference presenters.

You will receive links to both tracks and you may attend both tracks. However, you will only receive CEUs if you attend the entire mental health track and pay the $50 for mental health professionals CEUs.

Even though we will not be providing lunch, the money collected will go to pay for technology specialists to help us run the conference in a stress-free manner.

Schedule: Two Tracks


FOR ALL: Introduction to Conference: Dr. Cyndi Matthews

Introduction to Spiritual Abuse

  • Dr. Kathryn Keller (Mental Health)

  • Mark Wingfield (Clergy)

  • Ashlen Hilliard (Survivor of Controlling Theology)


Speaker Track 1 (CEUs)

Dr. Kathryn Keller, LPC-S

  • Identifying and Working With Spiritual Abuse in Therapy

Speaker Track 2: Pastors, Theology Students & Survivors of Religious Abuse

Mark Wingfield (Pastor)

  • Creating a Welcoming Church for ALL


Speaker Track 1 (CEUs)

Dr. Cyndi Matthews, LPC-S & Stevie Powers

  • Spiritual/Religious Abuse of LGB Individuals – Counseling for Healing

Speaker Track 2: Pastors, Theology Students & Survivors of Religious Abuse

Wendy/Doug Duncan

  • Ministry to the Spiritually Wounded


Both Tracks: Lunch on your own


Speaker Track 1 (CEUs)

Dr. Colleen Logan, LPC-S

  • Repairing the “Repair” after Reparative Therapy

Speaker Track 2: Pastors, Theology Students & Survivors of Religious Abuse

Julienna Viegas

  • Healing and rebuilding an identity after coming out of a spiritually abusive religion


Speaker Track 1 (CEUs)

Connie Baker, LPC-S

  • Hope and Healing after Spiritual Abuse

Speaker Track 2: Pastors, Theology Students & Survivors of Religious Abuse

Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner/Susanne Scholz:

  • Deconstructing Spiritually Abusive Interpretations of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and the New Testament


Panel Discussion: All speakers answering questions from the audience

Concluding remarks

Conference Speakers

Kathryn Keller

Kathryn Keller, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist and Licensed Professional Counselor – Supervisor in Dallas, TX. She co-owns a group counseling practice, Dallas Therapy Collective, where she sees clients for individual therapy. She graduated from Texas Woman’s University with her doctorate in counseling psychology. She conducted her doctoral dissertation on the topic of spiritual abuse, resulting in the first known measure of spiritual abuse. Kathryn’s practice is focused on clients who have experienced traumatic stress, including spiritual and religious trauma. She works particularly well with people who have experienced high levels of control in fundamentalist and evangelical Christian traditions. In addition to therapy, she enjoys training, consulting, supervising, and running many of the behind the scenes business aspects of her group practice.

Julienna Viegas

Julienna Viegas was born and raised in Belgium. She grew up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints. She left the mainstream Mormon Church in 2015 after going through a faith crisis which led her to question the foundation of her childhood beliefs. Since then she has published several articles in the Salt Lake Tribune questioning practices in the Mormon Church, she was interviewed on Mormon Stories by John Dehlin, she participated in multiple podcasts and hosts her own Faith Transition Podcast. Julienna studied International Politics at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She currently works as a business developer in a FinTech company and also volunteers to lead a faith transition support group in North Dallas. Julienna is the mother of three children. She is currently finishing a book about faith transition. She enjoys traveling and staying physically active.

Wendy and Doug Duncan

Wendy Duncan, MA, LBSW, has a Master’s Degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a licensed social worker in the state of Texas. She has spent most of her career in the mental health field.Wendy and her husband, Doug, are former members of a pseudo-Christian, Bible-based cult and several years after leaving, they became active in cult awareness activities. They are frequent presenters at ICSA conferences. Wendy co-facilitates a monthly support group for former members of cults in the Dallas metroplex. Wendy is also the author of I Can’t Hear God Anymore: Life in a Dallas Cult.

From: https://www.spiritualabuseresources.com/about

Doug Duncan

Doug Duncan, MS, LPC, was a member of an aberrant religious group for over twenty years. After defying the cult leader and marrying Wendy, they eventually left the cult and Doug began the task of rebuilding his life. He enrolled in a master’s program in counseling and earned a degree and license to practice therapy. After working on their cult recovery issues by reading all the available cult literature, attending conferences, and becoming involved with ICSA, Doug and Wendy started a ministry to increase the awareness and understanding of cults. They are frequent presenters at churches, civic groups, and conferences, as well as facilitators of a support group for former members of cults and high-demand groups. Additionally, Doug offers individual counseling to ex-members.

From: https://www.spiritualabuseresources.com/about

Cyndi Matthews

Dr. Cyndi Matthews is an Assistant Clinical Professor from Southern Methodist University and graduated with a PhD and Masters in Counseling and Counselor Education from Texas A&M University-Commerce. Dr. Matthews previously worked at the University of Louisiana Monroe and the University of North Texas at Dallas before coming to SMU. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S) and a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC) with over 17 years’ experience working with individuals, couples, and families. She is also a Cult Consultant who works with former cult members and their families from around the world.

Dr. Matthews’ research interests include religious/spiritual abuse along with its long-term effects and counseling best practices; counseling with LGBTQ+ individuals; and counseling individuals born and raised in religious cults. Her dissertation examined the long term effects of those born and raised in religious cults. She has published in the International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, The Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling, and the International Journal of Cultic Studies.

She is a member of ACA, ASERVIC, ALGBTIC, CSJ, TCA, TxCSJ, TALGBTIC, TAMFC, and ICSA and currently serves on the ICSA, ASERVIC, and ALGBTIC boards.

Dr. Matthews' private practice specializes in Depression/Anxiety/Stress, LGBTQ+ Issues/Gender Identity, Addiction, Religious Abuse & Cult Recovery, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Sexual, Emotional, & and Physical Abuse, Anger Management, Domestic Violence, Sex Therapy, Premarital Counseling, Communication Skills, Crisis Management, and Relationship Effectiveness.

Dr. Matthews is trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT), EMDR, Couples' Gottman (Levels I and II) and Couples’ Imago therapy, Sandtray Therapy, Online Counseling, and Psychodrama.


Stevie Powers

Stevie Powers is a graduate counseling student at the University of North Texas Dallas. He currently works as an intern at the student clinic for UNTD. Stevie plans to attend a PhD program after graduating with an interest in teaching at the graduate level and supervising counseling interns. He hopes to work with LGBTQ+ populations and help them navigate the many trials and tribulations that exist for them.

Stevie’s research interests are LGBTQ+ populations, spiritual abuse/high intensity faith groups and how that abuse affects those who have been a part of these groups, with a particular interest in LGBTQ+ individuals from these groups. Stevie has presented at a number of conferences, including conferences for both the International Cultic Studies Association and the Texas Counselors Association.

Susanne Scholz

Susanne Scholz, Ph.D., is Professor of Old Testament at SMU Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas, USA. Her research focuses on feminist hermeneutics and cultural biblical studies, interfaith and interreligious dialogue, as well as general issues related to gender and sexuality studies in religion. Among her fourteen books and over sixty essays and journal articles are Sacred Witness: Rape in the Hebrew Bible (Fortress Press, 2010), The Bible as Political Artifact: On the Feminist Study of the Hebrew Bible (Fortress Press, 2017), Introducing the Women’s Hebrew Bible: Feminism, Gender Justice, and the Study of the Old Testament (T&T Clark Bloomsbury, 2017). She is the editor of the book series Feminist Studies and Sacred Texts (Lexington Books) and the co-editor of the book series Dispatches from the New Diaspora (Lexington/Fortress Academic). Her website is available at susanne-scholz.com.

Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner

Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner has trained in rape crisis centers, a child abuse council, an addictive disease unit, domestic violence programs, and a community mental health clinic. Her classes at Perkins often include a training component in Dallas programs and centers that address the above issues. She is currently a member of the Pastoral Care Advisory Board at Children’s Health, Children’s Medical Center, Dallas, Texas.

Dr. Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner is Professor of Pastoral Care at Perkins School of Theology [Southern Methodist University], an ordained Presbyterian minister (PCUSA), a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, an Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) Psychotherapist, a Member of the International Academy of Practical Theology, a Henry Luce III Fellow, and a former President of the Society for Pastoral Theology. She was a Resident Member at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton (2012), President of the SMU Faculty Senate (2016-2017) and a member of the SMU Board of Trustees (2016-2017). She is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the University of Basel, Switzerland. Jeanne has taught at Columbia Theological Seminary, The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, and as Visiting Faculty at The University of Luzern, Switzerland (2012).

She co-edited a volume which transformed the field of pastoral theology - Women in Travail and Transition: A New Pastoral Care (Fortress Press). Jeanne is the editor of three additional pioneering volumes in pastoral care of women along with six additional books, the two most recent of which are Portable Roots: Transplanting the Bicultural Child (2014) and Overture to Practical Theology: The Music of Religious Inquiry (2016). Currently, she is editing a volume to celebrate the Centennial of women’s suffrage. Her book The Spirit of Adoption: At Home in God’s Family received an award from the Academy of Parish Clergy, and she was honored in 2010 with The American Association of Pastoral Counselor’s Distinguished Achievement in Research and Writing Award.

Colleen Logan

Dr. Logan’s career spans decades of activism, advocacy, and diversity training. She is known in particular for her expertise in providing diversity training related to the unique needs of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) communities.

Dr. Logan has been a Licensed Professional Counselor since 1994. She has maintained a private practice for over twenty years. She holds a License as a Supervisor in Texas. She has been recognized and commended by the American Counseling Association (ACA) and The Association of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Counseling, a division of ACA for her contributions to the field of counseling and affirmative therapy with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and their significant others. She is co-founder of the Texas Association of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues in Counseling, a division of Texas Counseling Association. She is a Fellow and former past president of the American Counseling Association (ACA). She remains active in the organization and currently serves as a trustee on the American Counseling Association Foundation (ACAF). She is also active in the Texas Counseling Association (TCA) and serves on the Board of Directors.

Dr. Logan has authored or co-authored a number of articles and chapters as well as a book regarding how to work effectively with gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender clients and their significant other. In 2016, Dr. Logan authored a document entitled Inclusion and Wellbeing of LGBTQ Youth, an award-winning document created for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America staff and volunteers. Moreover, in 2017, Dr. Logan co-authored a seminal guide to counseling the LGBTQ+ community across the lifespan.

Retrieved from: https://www.smu.edu/Simmons/About-Us/Directory/Counseling/Logan

Mark Wingfield

Mark joined the Wilshire Baptist Church as associate pastor in January 2004. He came to Wilshire after a 21-year career in denominational journalism. In addition to giving leadership to the ministerial staff and coordinating the ministry and mission of the church, Mark has specific responsibilities for communications and outreach and works closely with the strategic planning process and oversees church committees. From 1998 to 2003, he served as managing editor of the Baptist Standard, weekly newspaper of Texas Baptists. Previously, he served as news director and then editor of the Western Recorder, weekly newspaper of Kentucky Baptists. He also was associate director of news and information for the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board and director of news and information for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He earned the bachelor of arts degree in journalism (1984) from the University of New Mexico and completed extensive graduate studies in theology at Southwestern Seminary while working there. In the community, he previously served as assistant Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 473, previously served on the board of the Lake Highlands YMCA, is a former president of Lake Highlands Area Band Club, was a founding board member of Healing Hands Ministries, a charity clinic based in Lake Highlands, and currently serves as vice chairman of the board of Gaston Christian Center, a new local mission and ministry center, and serves on the board of Gateway of Grace, a refugee resettlement ministry. He also serves on the board of Baptist News Global, a national news service, and is a leader within the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. He is a regular columnist for Baptist News Global and the Dallas Morning News and in November 2016 was invited to give a TED Talk at TEDxCharlottesville. His latest book, published in December 2019, is "Why Churches Need to Talk About Sexuality." Mark and his wife, Alison, have been married since 1985 and have twin boys, Luke and Garrett, who are professional jazz musicians.


Ashlen Hilliard

Ashlen Hilliard is the Assistant to the Executive Director for the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA). Before ICSA, she worked as a case manager that helped individuals leaving polygamy out west. ICSA has provider her with a greater appreciation of the spectrum of coercive control and its international dimension, and her current focuses are event organization and former member outreach.

She was also born and raised in the fundamentalist churches of Christ (Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement), and attended the sect’s choice of higher education at Florida College, where she received her BA in Communication with a minor in Biblical Studies.

Ashlen relocated to Portland, Oregon earlier this year where she is involved in local Spiritual Abuse Forum for Education (SAFE) Meetups for survivors of cultic and spiritual abuse. Ashlen facilitates support groups and meetings online for former members of cultic groups, and organized a webinar series during COVID-19 to help provide cult recovery and family support in an online format.

She has been interviewed on cults on NPR One Podcast Series with FGCU and The Tennessee Holler. She has published an article in ICSA Today 10.2 / 2019 on, The Genesis, Text, and Implications of Utah House Bill 214: Office for Victims of Crime Amendments. In addition to event organization, she has also presented at multiple ICSA conferences:

  • Spiritual & Religious Abuse: Preventing, Recognizing and Healing, April 2020, Dallas, TX

  • Sexual Abuse of Children and Adults in Religious Organizations, November 2019, Santa Fe, NM. 2020

  • Stronger: Recovery From Spiritual Abuse and High-Control Groups, September 2019, Portland, OR

  • The Global Challenge of Young People Born, Raised or Recruited Into Extremist Groups, Abusive Religious Organizations, or Coercive/Exploitative Relationships, July 2018, Philadelphia, PA

Connie Baker

Connie A Baker, MA LPC, has a Masters of Arts degree in counseling and is a licensed professional counselor in Portland, OR. In addition to her private practice, Connie has been a university instructor, seminar teacher, conference speaker, clinical supervisor, published writer, trauma recovery specialist and author of Traumatized by Religious Abuse: Courage, Hope and Freedom for Survivors.