Date of Award

Spring April 2017

Access Restriction

Research Projects

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Marital and Family Therapy

School or College

College of Communication and Fine Arts

First Advisor

Paige Asawa


This research uses a questionnaire and a bridge drawing directive to explore the lived experience of transitioning out of a high-demand religion. Subjects include disaffiliated Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Fundamentalist Protestants who were recruited through a dedicated website via limited promotion in online communities for disaffiliates. Visual and textual responses are analyzed through qualitative coding, with additional analysis performed on the artwork using Hays and Lyons’ (1981) bridge drawing criteria. Results reveal the psychological, social, behavioral, identity, and existential effects of disaffiliation. Results also produce seven emergent themes: ambivalence; embracing uncertainty; social justice; simultaneous transitions; freedom and constraint; growth; and remaining ties. The paper then explores the subjects’ lived experiences, latent content in the artwork, and the role and value of artmaking in healing from these difficult transitions. Lastly, this paper discusses treatment considerations, limitations of the study, and suggestions for future research on religious struggles and disaffiliation.