January 25, 2019

A Fond Farewell to Board Secretary, Susi Bocks


It is with deep gratitude and best wishes that the Board of Directors has accepted the resignation of its current Secretary, Susi Bocks. Susi has devoted over six years of service to Recovering from Religion as a Helpline Volunteer, Volunteer Coordinator, and Board Member. Her dedication and keen attention to detail has been evident in every endeavor she has undertaken. Her care and empathy has spoken volumes to her colleagues and the many clients she has helped along the way, and her good humor and relentless enthusiasm for Recovering from Religion's mission has been integral to the improvements and advances our organization has made throughout the years.

Susi will be dearly missed and leaves us to embark fully into a blossoming writing career. We wish her happiness, fulfillment, and success as she moves into this next chapter in her life and hope to see more from her as we carry with us all that she has contributed to Recovering from Religion.


The Secular Therapy Project - UPDATED WEBSITE

The Secular Therapy Project, under the direction of Dr. Caleb Lack and Dr. Darrel Ray, is proud to announce the completion of a completely redesigned and updated website and database, available online at seculartherapy.org. The purpose of the Secular Therapy Project (STP) is to help connect non-religious or secular persons who need mental health services with outstanding mental health professionals, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, and others. Over 10,000 clients have connected with hundreds of therapists to obtain needed and effective mental health treatment since 2012. The upgrades to the database include faster, easier searches and the ability to specifically search for distance therapy; an improved messaging system for clients and therapists to communicate with; new and improved applications for therapists who wish to join the Secular Therapy Project; and the expansion of the STP database to allow therapists from around the world to join.

The STP is unique compared to other therapist-locator sites in that it is not just a database of providers. Instead, they very carefully screen potential therapists who want to become part of the STP. All therapist applicants are screened to ensure that a) they are appropriately licensed in their state or country, b) that they are secular in nature as well as practice, and c) that they actually use evidence-based treatments, which have been shown to be effective at helping improve mental health problems in controlled clinical trials. This means not only do therapists from the STP not try to preach to or convert clients, but that they are also using the most well-supported types of treatment available.

“These changes will improve access for existing clients and allow people globally to find the best mental health care that they can,” said Dr. Lack, director of the Secular Therapy Project. “Now even more non-religious people can be confident that their therapist will be practicing ethical, evidence-based therapy rather than being worried about being judged due to their lack of religious belief.”

A number of information technology specialists donated hundreds of hours of their time in the first major upgrade since the site went live in 2012. Chief among these was David Klinge, who took the project to completion over the past nine months. Also contributing to the early development were Daniel Ashcraft and Clayton Flesher. “I can’t even say how grateful we are to David and everyone else for all the hard work they put into this project,” Dr. Lack said. “They freely gave of their expertise and time to help others, and there is no way this would have happened without them.”

The Secular Therapy Project is a program of Recovering from Religion. Recovering from Religion (RfR) is led by Executive Director Gayle Jordan and provides practical support and resources to individuals reconsidering the role of religion in their lives. Founded by Dr. Darrel Ray in 2009, RfR is unwavering in its commitment to provide immediate, compassionate support for individuals anywhere along the spectrum of doubt via work like The Helpline, which gives 24-hour support, and local support groups which provide community and a listening ear for the questions and frustrations that accompany what is often a seismic change in thought process, attitude, and outlook. To learn more about the Secular Therapy Project, contact Dr. Lack.

Recovering from Religion is hosting Thanks-for-Giving, a livestreaming, first-of-its-kind, fundraising extravaganza! Live interviews will feature Shelley Segal, Peter Boghossian, David Fitzgerald, Mandisa Thomas, Callie Wright, and many more secular activists. We are also auctioning off valuable prizes and holding drawings for books and convention admissions. The audience will be able to view the event via facebook live on our facebook page and interact with event hosts and guests on our monitored social media feeds on facebook and twitter.

Thanks so much to Aron and Lilandra Ra for this promotional video!

5/25/16  Leadership News

Recovering from Religion would like to issue the following announcement:

Teresa MacBain officially tendered her resignation as Director of the Hotline Project and as a member of the Board of Directors effective Monday, April 25, 2016.

Recovering from Religion is deeply grateful to Teresa for all of her time and hard work on the Hotline Project. We wish her the greatest success in her academic pursuit, and look forward to hearing about the next achievement in her journey. We have included a letter from Teresa detailing her accomplishments while serving with Recovering From Religion.

The Hotline Project is now under the capable leadership of Sarah Jane Wood, Director, and Jerry Ozbun, Technical Director. This vital program, consisting of both the Hotline and the new Chatline, will continue to offer a safe place and compassionate response to those seeking answers to the often troubling questions that accompany doubting one’s faith.

Here is an excerpt of Teresa’s resignation:

I never thought I would ever leave such a great organization, but when the opportunity arose to pursue my graduate degree through an accelerated program, which as you know has always been a lifelong dream for me, I simply had to take advantage of it.

I cannot say enough wonderful things about Recovering from Religion and the Hotline Project. There are so many wonderful people I’ve encountered in my years of service with the organization that have shown me the power of compassion and commitment. I am especially grateful for the you all for your trust in me and support of this vital work. The staff and volunteers in the Hotline Project have impressed me with their innovation, dedication, and passion for those in need of a listening ear. Without my amazing team, we would not be where we are today!

Finally, I am honored to have been a part of the RfR board. Your leadership has taken us to new levels, and I am truly a better person because of all your personal and professional advice over the years. It’s my sincere hope that we will stay in touch as I begin this new chapter in my life.

The following is a narrative of Teresa’s accomplishments while a board member and Hotline Director:

The Hotline Project began as a dream to provide people a safe, easily accessible way to connect with a real person during some of the most difficult times in their lives. Over the past year, this dream has become reality through the Hotline Project. In August 2014, I came on board simply to write and develop the call agent training manual and program. That led to which led to setting up the call center system (iCarol), then working as the Training Director, then working as the Assistant Director, and finally as the Director. Being one of the founders of this project has been, and is, one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Being a part of this ground-breaking work has truly changed my life. Seeing the commitment, passion, and compassion of the team coupled with the gratitude of our callers, continually encourages and strengthens me. We have come a very long way in a short amount of time and we have much more to do in the future. I take great pride in knowing that the work we do gives people the greatest gifts of all: love, understanding, time, and hope.

After months of development, I trained the first Hotline Call Agent on November 3, 2014. Since that time, my team and I have trained 235 call agents and 23 chat agents. The hotline has grown into a professional, international peer-support call center. Each day, a hotline agent provides a safe, non-judgmental space for people struggling with issues of faith. People from across the globe now have access to practical, tangible resources, referrals, and information. Our clients range from 12 years-old to 82 years-old representing the spectrum of belief from doubting believer to closeted nonbeliever, open nonbeliever, and concerned family member or friend.

The Hotline officially launched February 28, 2015 with a team of 35 call agents and 2 shift supervisors managing 103 calls in the first 12 hours. Several callers contacted the hotline out of curiosity or wanting to know why we established a hotline to ‘deconvert’ Christians. A few called trying to trap the call agents by pretending to be a nonbeliever. In each instance, the call agents displayed true professionalism as they communicated the mission of the hotline. Since the launch, I have built a solid infrastructure staffed by a team of highly talented professionals with the skills and commitment to expand our reach, recruit and train volunteers, and bring innovative ideas to the hotline.

Teresa's Specific Accomplishments:

* Wrote all training curriculum and policy manuals

* Developed team leadership based infrastructure for virtual teams

* Specific emphasis on an organic approach vs. a top-down model

* Trained senior staff using traditional and apprentice based model

* Developed internal tracking tools, tech support ticketing system, and staff training

* Built Hotline Website

* Created new logo and graphics

* Transitioned the hotline from a land-based server system to a cloud based system, reducing the operational costs drastically

* Developed and launched the chat line

* Developed an expansive volunteer support system including: mental health resources for self-care, mini-course training sessions, transitioned to the Slack communications platform, and a full-featured Hotline Volunteer Support Website for the team.

* Assisted in the restructure of RfR following the ED’s departure.

* Worked to ensure that the Hotline had a solid team to move forward after my departure.