About

After twenty years of private practice as a licensed psychotherapist, Bonnie Zieman is recently retired (although she occasionally conducts therapy sessions via Skype for current or former JWs). As both a therapist and a former, born-in Jehovah’s Witness, Bonnie has the skills, knowledge, education and experience which she uses to help survivors of coercive-control groups recover from mind-control, manipulation, deception and abuse. Bonnie is the author of the following books:

Bonnie Zieman is also on the Board of Review of the Open Minds Foundation which is dedicated to exposing and combating all forms of undue influence, coercion, mind-control and manipulation.

Education & Experience:  Bonnie has a Masters of Education degree (M.Ed.), a Graduate Diploma in Education & Training of Adults, and has completed extensive training in both Gestalt and Psychosynthesis therapies. She has also completed both levels of training in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing) therapy, and in Psychotraumatology and Crisis Intervention for Post-Traumatic Stress. Bonnie is a multi-disciplinary  psychotherapist using a variety of approaches, such as Existential, Humanist, Cognitive/Behavioral, Psychodynamic, EMDR, EFT and Mindfulness in her work with clients. Bonnie brings this knowledge, training and experience to her writing about healing from the after-effects of being in and then leaving high-control groups.

23 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Bonnie – I found your website very informative! I work for production company called Leftfield Entertainment and we are working on a compelling new docu-series looking to shine a light on the dangers of cults and organizations that encourage cult-like behavior. We’re looking for therapists, psychologists and counselors who have experience treating young adult survivors of these groups. I’d love to tell you more about the project and see if you might be interested yourself or know of people that might be interested. Feel free to contact me at molly(dot)tom(at)leftfieldpictures(dot)com. Thanks in advance! Best, Molly

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  2. Bonnie…I happened to stumble across your books on Amazon and ordered them. Anxious to get them tomorrow and start “healing”. Born and raised as a JW and disfellowshipped 6 years ago has made me a wreak. Divorced of a 18 yr marriage with 3 children. 2 daughters are baptized and have had nothing to do with me the past 6 yrs. I get my son every other week(per divorce), Judge gave ex custody of all 3 as the religion provided a more stable enviornment for the kids. It devasted me. All family and friends i’ve ever known..gone. Remarried a wonderful man last year. Things are great but the emotional effect leaving the religion has me a mess. Glad i found your books and am looking forward to the healing & moving forward process. Thanks again!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Tamara. You have really been put through a terrible ordeal by an organization that has no qualms about tearing families apart. While no book can eliminate the pain of being ostracized by your children, I feel confident that you will acquire tools that will help you manage the emotional challenges and pain you face. Wish you all the best!

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      • Dear Bonnie,

        I am a retired lawyer on Sweden,
        as well as a newly exit-JW.
        Despite having been of zelous member of the organisation for almost 40 years, half time as an high, I have made up my mind never ever to return.

        Besides the fact that your books on the subject of exiting cults is of major interest for ex-JWs as well as for psychoterapeuts, I do have some vital points to discuss with you.
        Therefore I would like to have a private contact with you. So please send med an email to confirm.
        Kind regards,
        Ingemar

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  3. I can not express enough gratitude for sharing your story. The largest residual effect of leaving the JW cult is isolation and a lack of belonging. When I left, the internet was in it’s developing stages, and I spent years re-building without a community to commiserate and heal with. When I discovered your books, I re-visited my trauma, hearing your story. You confirmed so many suspicions regarding illness, repression, emotional abuse, etc. that I always knew, but couldn’t put into certain terms. We need each other, and voices like yours, to heal. Thank you so much Bonnie.

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    • Margo – You are SO welcome. Warms my heart to hear that my books have affirmed what you already knew about the devastating effects of all the deception, betrayal and coercion we experienced in a cult. And, yes, it is wonderful to have access to an ever-growing, worldwide community of cult survivors. Thank you for this encouraging comment!

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  4. Bonnie,
    My wife and I just took placement of 3 foster siblings that we intend to adopt. All 3 were in separate foster homes. The 8 year old girl was in the home of a JW for approximately 1 year. She was instructed to ask us not to take away 3 JW books that were included with her possessions. We knew that it wasn’t the time to remove them. Are there are signs we should watch for? Would an 8 year old girl really see a difference between JW and church?

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    • Hi Richard,
      My guess is that, for now, she may have an emotional attachment to the books – but probably not to the contents (dogma) of the books. New people, including children, who attend the JW meetings are greeted with what is called “love-bombing” and she may have felt more acceptance and ‘love’ in that organization that she had ever experienced in her little life. I would not make a big issue about the books as you indicate you are already aware. I would just make sure she feels loved and accepted and forms a bond with you and your family which will ultimately take precedence over previous, briefly formed attachments and loyalties. As well, I would be careful about JWs trying to insinuate their way into her new life with you and your family. All the best to you and your growing family!

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  5. I’ve had many years of experience in a religious group colloquially known as the 2 X2s, the Friends or the Truth. I wondered if you’re familiar with the group? If so, how would you suggest helping a former member of this group?

    Please advise – many thanks,

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    • Hi Cory,
      No, I’m not familiar with the group. Since I know nothing about the person or the group or the circumstances, there is not much I can say here. I would recommend they read my book, “The Challenge to Heal After Leaving A High-Control Group”. There is a lot of good information in it.

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    • Tiffany – I’m sorry I am not acquainted with any psychologists in your area. You can still have a great result working with any experienced psychologist – especially if you share my new book, “Cracking the Cult Code for Therapists: What Every Cult Victim Wants Their Therapist to Know” with the psychologist.

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  6. Bonnie is this book Cracking the Cult Code for Therapist helpful for counselors working with clients who are still actively practicing as a Jehovah Witness?

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  7. I just read “Exiting the JW” today and I will use some of the tools mentioned to cope with my departure. I have been inactive over 10 years and basically stuck in a box. I struggle with depression and anxiety and I think this is one reason I have not been able complete weight loss program. I will start a diet and a few months into a program I am down in the dumps again. So, my brain just keeps going back to my bad experiences as a JW. So, I will be working hard on writing in a journal daily to minimize my bad thoughts to increase positivity and imagination. Thanks for your help.

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  8. My son died in 2014. Now that I’m out. I don’t know where to turn to to find where my son is. Sorry for the hard hit.

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  9. This has been one of the most challenging issues for every human that has ever lived on planet Earth. Many turn to religions to find the answer. But as you found out – to have “the answer” you have to submit to their controls. The existential realities of life are something each human must grapple with. We must all wrestle with mortality, loss, aloneness, meaninglessness, etc. This is how we grow and mature. There are no easy answers. There certainly is a part of your loved one that remains alive in your heart when you remember them. As for any other answers – each of us has to find our own. It is emotional work. In a cult, all the answers are provided and we don’t learn how to grapple with difficult issues. Now you are free to do your own research and come to your own conclusions.

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    • Thank you. I have 2 therapist. One that gives me my meds. She has a kider approach like you just did. My regular talk therapist is male. I have trouble connecting. I just realized that now. I suppose my male dominated world had come to an end. Where’s Gloria Steinem? LOL. Thanks again.

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  10. Hello, just discovered your web site. My adult son removed himself from my life for 18.5 years, my only child and he has one child my only grandchild. Until about a year ago I not seen my grandchild since the age of 2.5, now she is 22, my son 50 years old. My husband connected with my grandchild on FB and she had “no idea who I was or that I was existed”. A tough sentence that made my heart and soul bleed with pain. When all this started in 1999, I found a psychologist and a psychiatrist and spent many, many hours with them over the decision my son reached to keep me out of his and my grandchilds life. Now retired I can no longer afford thousands of dollars each month for mental health care. I am seeking a psychologist that has some experience with what I am experiencing. Now that they are extremely ever so slightly in my life again, I have all the old feelings of “why, who, what for”. I was raised Roman Catholic, my son as well. All this JW actions and deeds to me with my Catholic cap on my head screams “EVIL”. I live in Arizona. Any direction or referral to me for the Sedona, Arizona area would be gratefully appreciated.

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    • I’m sorry to hear all you have endured. You may find some help in the growing field called “parental alienation”. Google that term to discover resources that could prove helpful. As well, when searching for a therapist ask them if they have any experience dealing with parental alienation and/or ostracism. Check out my new book “SHUNNED: A Survival Guide” for easy ways to calm and soothe your inevitable emotional reactions to being cut out of your children and grandchildren’s’ lives.

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