This is a training for mental health counselors, social workers, psychologists, healthcare providers, researchers, counselor educators, graduate students, or community members who work with those who have been impacted by trauma. I will be presenting a presentation titled Purity Culture: The Traumatic Aftermath of the 2000s Movement with Lauren Hawkins. It is also available virtually and will be live streamed with registration.

Presentation Abstract: In this workshop, we will review the history of the Purity Culture Movement of the 1990s/2000s in the United States and its harmful aftermath. Purity culture has focused around preserving female virginity through rules that attempt to regulate sexual behavior, often being taught to children and adolescents. Mental health symptoms related to these teachings can show up any time thereafter affecting various aspects of self, such as identity and sexual health, leading clients to seek mental health services. It is common for individuals not to label their reason for seeking therapy as related to “purity culture” due to the relatively new terminology for this phenomenon. Clients may describe many hallmark symptoms related to purity culture, but lack the language for this. It is only in recent years that researchers have coined the term now referred to as “purity culture,” which refers to this subculture of conservative Christianity. Due to this, clients may not describe their experiences as traumatic and may struggle to connect their symptoms to purity culture. As clinicians, it is necessary for us to be familiar with what purity culture is, its potentially harmful effects, as well as the various ways that it may present in clients in order to best help them achieve their therapeutic goals. We will discuss how purity culture teachings have contributed to rape culture and the specific impacts on women, LGBT+ individuals, and men. Then, we will provide an overview of needs that individuals who lived through the purity culture movement may have, as well as considerations for working with this population. With the support and guidance of mental health professionals, clients affected by purity culture can regain the dignity that purity culture robbed them of. Through empowerment and choice, we can help clients take back their own bodies and sense of self.

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