AMERICAN FORK, Utah (ABC4 News) – “I’ll go where you want me to go dear Lord” is a common sentiment you hear among many young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as they prepare to serve a full-time mission.
For some young missionaries, the excitement soon turns to fear and despair as they struggle to cope with the unplanned physical or mental health challenges. This causes many missionaries to come home earlier than they had planned.
Therapists from the Family Transitions Counseling in American Fork say these missionaries worry about disappointing friends, and family, church leaders and even God.
One missionary stated, “going home early in my mind only looked like pain regret, disappointment, and judgment.” It is tremendous emotional pressure, according to therapists.
In a research conducted by Dr. Kris Doty at UVU in 2013, for three-fourths of these early-returned missionaries, feelings of shame and failure are pervasive.
They said 46 percent did not feel they were “true” missionaries when they came home. About 34 percent went through a period of church inactivity after returning because of the embarrassment they felt and the judgment they perceived.
Steven Eastmond, LCSW, a therapist at Family Transitions Counseling said: “Many early-returned missionaries feel they have nowhere to turn to talk out these feelings because many people in their immediate support circle don’t know what to say.”
The Family Transitions Counseling will be offering support groups for early-returned missionaries at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 20, 2019.
The support group will be mediated by a therapist for emotional encouragement and support from other peers struggling with similar post-mission adjustment challenges.
Officials say the support groups are intended to help alleviate stigma and facilitate missionaries who are struggling to feel that they are not alone.
To sign up, contact Family Transitions Counseling at 801-369-0053 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit www.familytcc.com for more information.