The Allender Center Podcast

We’re pleased to bring you a new, three-part series this summer from Rachael Clinton Chen, where she candidly shares personal insights from her own journey of holistically healing from complex PTSD and anxiety, and the things she didn’t expect when healing from trauma.

In the first episode of this series, Rachael shares some of her earliest memories of contending with anxiety as a child, how she managed it, and what eventually drove her to begin to seek help. 

From the heart-wrenching lows to the moments so absurd they bring laughter, and every breakthrough in between, we hope this series of heart-to-heart conversations will bring you hope, make you laugh, make you think, and most of all make you feel like you're not alone.

Stay tuned for Part 2, which will be released on July 5.


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Story is how we make meaning as humans. Stories help us shape our identity and influence our perception of God. Our stories also are revelatory; they reveal something of the nature of God in a way that nothing else does. 

If you’re curious about why we talk so much about story here at the Allender Center - or if you’ve heard it before and need a gentle reminder - this episode will help you reflect on the role of story and how your story connects with the story of God.


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We believe that we are made for honor. We’re made to be known, to be seen, and to be delighted in.

But along the way, the joy of being honored somehow gets distorted. Shame, envy, or exploitation often tarnish our encounters with honor. As a result, many of us either shy away from it or diminish its significance. Alternatively, many of us may find ourselves chasing a counterfeit version of honor, pursuing attention, affirmation, wealth, or status.

Why does receiving honor often evoke discomfort within us? Today, Dan and Rachael explore the essence of our relationship with honor — uncovering the underlying reasons behind our unease and highlighting the honor and glory we are all meant for.


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Do you ever feel stuck in a whirlwind of conflicting emotions or negative thoughts? Dr. Alison Cook, therapist and host of "The Best of You" podcast, joins Rachael Clinton Chen to explore the intricacies of navigating emotions.

Her latest book, I Shouldn’t Feel This Way, offers practical strategies and a transformative 3-step framework to navigate difficult emotions and find more clarity. Whether you’re grappling with past wounds, conflicting emotions, or seeking more connection with yourself and God, we hope this episode offers valuable insights and encouragement to support you on your journey towards emotional freedom.

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In Romans, we’re encouraged to renew our minds, but what does that really mean? Can we just think our way to healing? Today, Dan and Rachael dive into the fascinating world of mind-body renewal. 

They discuss how relying solely on our thoughts for healing has its limitations and propose a more holistic approach that considers the polyvagal system—a fascinating network that regulates our nervous system.

Referencing Romans 12:2, they stress the importance of going beyond just thinking differently, recognizing the deep connection between our bodies, minds, and spirits. Dan explains the three stress states of the polyvagal system—ventral vagal, sympathetic activation, and dorsal vagal shutdown—and how disruptions can skew our perception of reality and impact our relationships.

You’ll also discover some practical techniques to help regulate the polyvagal system and clear your mind. By the end of this episode, we hope you’ll gain a deeper understanding of renewal—one that embraces not only our thoughts but also our physical and spiritual well-being.


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In our fourth and final episode of conversations with Narrative Focused Trauma Care alumni, we have the privilege of speaking with Rev. Mike Boland about the profound influence of his training and work in NFTC on both his personal life and ministry.

In the shadow of childhood abuse, Mike found himself trapped in what he describes as a perpetual "Groundhog Day" cycle. While he managed to get by, true healing remained elusive. However, the cycle was disrupted when he became a parent, prompting him to seek help to address his past traumas and strive to become the kind of parent he aspired to be.

This pivotal disruption led him to work with a skilled therapist who introduced him to the work of the Allender Center. Though his journey towards healing was tumultuous and marked with anger, Mike pressed on with courage. His desire for growth led him to participate in a Men’s Recovery Week and eventually complete Narrative Focused Trauma Care Level III training, ultimately becoming a Facilitator with the Allender Center.

We hope that this four-part series of candid conversations has inspired you and sparked your imagination regarding the possibilities of healing, both for yourself and others. Our aim has been to offer you a glimpse into the profound impact of embracing the life-changing experience of Narrative Focused Trauma Care.

Learn more about NFTC training at 

Please note that this episode contains discussions of sexual abuse, including childhood sexual abuse, and is intended for mature audiences only. Listener discretion is advised.


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Today, Dan and Rachael are chatting with Petra Malekzadeh, who is the Narrative Focused Trauma Care Facilitator Training Coordinator at the Allender Center, as well as an Instructor and Advisor. She also led a thriving story group ministry at her church for several years before joining us.

You’ll hear about what drew her to the work of the Allender Center and, in particular, the work that she has done to understand the role of shame and step into a more fullness. 

We invite you to chat with Petra at our upcoming NFTC Level I Coffee Hour on May 8. If you have questions about NFTC training, how the program works, and how it can benefit your work, Petra is the perfect person to connect with. Sign up for this free coffee hour at

This is the third of our 4-part series where we’re inviting you to join us in listening to real stories from those who've gone through Narrative Focused Trauma Care training with the Allender Center. Through candid conversations with these remarkable individuals, our goal is to give you a glimpse into the profound impact of saying yes to this life-changing experience. 

Learn more about NFTC training at 


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After leading a marriage ministry in a large church and successfully launching their children into the world, Mark and Michelle Hollingsworth found themselves facing the unexpected collapse of their 24-year marriage.

In the aftermath, they began a quest to find healing and more understanding. As they searched for support in their church and friend community but still felt very alone. Mark said, “People didn’t know what to do with us.”

So as they navigated their own healing process, they also had the courage to imagine how they could support others experiencing similar heartbreak, creating spaces for healing that they themselves had struggled to find.

Inspired by Michelle's experience at a Story Workshop, the couple pursued Narrative Focused Trauma Care (NFTC) training together.

Both Mark and Michelle completed NFTC Level II training with the Allender Center, and they now offer coaching and story groups for other couples through The Soul Reserve. Michelle says, “We just want people to know that we can be really good people that are really broken - and we can fight for each other's goodness”

This is the second of our 4-part series where we’re inviting you to join us in listening to real stories from those who've gone through Narrative Focused Trauma Care training with the Allender Center. Through candid conversations with these remarkable individuals, our goal is to give you a glimpse into the profound impact of saying yes to this life-changing experience.


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We're kicking off a 4-part series where we’re inviting you to join us in listening to real stories from those who've gone through Narrative Focused Trauma Care training with the Allender Center. Through candid conversations with these remarkable individuals, our goal is to give you a glimpse into the profound impact of saying yes to this life-changing experience.

First up, we’re chatting with Stasi Eldredge. Stasi is a multifaceted individual - an author, speaker, and integral part of the leadership team at Wild at Heart. She'll take us through the moment she felt compelled to join an NFTC training cohort, driven by a desire for healing and a deeper connection with God. Stasi reflects on how confronting past traumas reshaped her, moving from a sense of being weighed down by old wounds to discovering freedom and compassion  within those painful memories through encounters with Jesus.

To learn more about Narrative Focused Trauma Care training, we invite you to visit

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We’re pleased to welcome Aundi Kolber back to the podcast to chat with Rachael Clinton Chen about healing from trauma and finding compassion in the journey towards true flourishing. 

Aundi, a licensed professional counselor and author, shares her deeply personal journey of creating the "Strong like Water Guided Journey: A Compassionate Path to True Flourishing." This resource, born amidst her own experiences of grief and trauma, offers a warm and compassionate approach to healing.

Throughout the discussion, Aundi emphasizes the importance of compassionate resourcing and body-centered practices in the journey of trauma recovery. She beautifully highlights the paradoxical nature of healing, where strength and vulnerability intertwine, and extends an invitation to listeners to soften and rest amidst life's challenges.

We hope you’ll check out Aundi’s recently-released "Strong Like Water Guided Journey," available wherever books are sold.


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We often spend time reflecting on how our family of origin shapes our stories. But today, we're turning our attention to another important part of who we are, both personally and collectively: our church family history.

This week, we are honored to host The Rev. Dr. Jennifer Powell McNutt, a distinguished church historian, professor, and author. Dr. McNutt serves as the Franklin S. Dyrness Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Wheaton College and is the co-author, alongside David W. McNutt, of the upcoming book, "Know the Theologians."

Given the challenges and controversies within the church today, it's crucial to understand the relevance of our church family history. Jennifer, Dan, and Rachael highlight the need to learn from both the successes and failures of past generations and to recognize God's faithfulness throughout history.

While learning about church history might seem intimidating at first, it's incredibly valuable in understanding our Christian tradition and where we're headed together. We hope this conversation inspires you to do your own exploration of the influences of this unique "family tree."

Jennifer will return later this year to continue this conversation. In the meantime, we encourage you to explore her new book, "Know the Theologians," available April 2 at bookstores everywhere.

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*Please note that this episode contains discussions of sexual abuse and sexual activity, and is intended for adult audiences only. Listener discretion is advised.*

Linda Royster and Sue Cunningham join Dan Allender to discuss the transformative impact of Recovery Weeks. 

Recovery Week is a holistic experience designed to create a relational, healing space for survivors to explore and engage the impact of their stories of sexual abuse. The Allender Center offers a Men’s Recovery Week, a Women’s Recovery Week, and a Women’s Recovery Week with a Focus on Racial Trauma & Healing for Women of Color.

With extensive involvement in Women’s Recovery Weeks for many years, Linda and Sue, along with Vanessa Sadler, are leading this year’s inaugural Women’s Recovery Week with a Focus on Racial Trauma and Healing.

Reflecting on her initial experience as the sole Woman of Color in attendance, Linda shares how profoundly impactful the healing experience was, sparking her desire to create a dedicated space addressing the intersectionality of sexual abuse and racial trauma for Women of Color.

An important aspect of this Recovery Week is the acknowledgment of how women of color may carry the shame of trauma differently. Linda emphasizes understanding the reality of identity and how it informs the response to the harm suffered within both the community and the larger context. This unique identity informs questions about whether care will be available and whether spaces will be made accessible for women who hold certain identities. This aspect of the work during the Recovery Week aims to recognize and honor these differences, ensuring that care is accessible and tailored to the needs of Women of Color.

For those curious about the essence of a Recovery Week, this episode offers a glimpse into the healing processes and profound connections forged during these events.

You’ll hear firsthand about how participants engage in intimate conversations exploring their healing journey, confronting the challenges of shame and betrayal, and celebrating the beauty of finding belonging and mutual support through bearing witness to each other's stories.

If you’d like more information about Recovery Weeks with the Allender Center, please visit

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This week’s conversation dives into a difficult but essential topic: addressing past experiences of sexual abuse. We understand the weightiness of this subject and approach it with sensitivity and care. At the Allender Center, this work is central to our mission, and while it's undeniably challenging, we've also witnessed its profound goodness. Our journey toward healing doesn't involve bypassing the pain but rather moving through it.

Dan and Rachael navigate the complexities of addressing sexual abuse, acknowledging the costs - both internal and external - that survivors face. They compassionately explore the impact trauma has on the body, relationships, and spirituality. Rachael eloquently expresses the intricate nature of this process, recognizing the need to navigate the debris of past harm while holding space for the potential for growth and beauty.

The conversation extends to the ripple effects on relationships, including disruptions within familial, marital, and friendship dynamics. Dan emphasizes the importance of having supportive allies who understand the complexities of the healing journey, even as it may challenge existing relational dynamics.

In the spiritual realm, Rachael and Dan delve into the complexities of wrestling with faith in the aftermath of sexual abuse. They bravely confront questions and doubts about God's role in suffering while also acknowledging the possibility of deepened intimacy and connection with the divine.

We invite you to find solace, insights, and encouragement in this discussion. We recognize the immense courage it takes to embark on a journey of healing and restoration. It is our firm belief that it's possible to reclaim your identity and discover hope amidst the pain.

Please note that this episode contains discussions of sexual abuse and childhood sexual abuse, as well as brief explicit language that may be offensive to some listeners. Listener discretion is advised.


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In this week's episode of the Allender Center Podcast, Linda Royster and Wendell Moss lead a profound discussion on the intricate dynamics of trauma, resilience, and the transformative role of community healing, particularly in the context of racial trauma.

They discuss the profound impact of both personal and collective trauma, recognizing its reverberations across communities. They highlight the importance of not just surviving, but actively processing and learning from one's experiences. Conversely, they discuss how unhealthier forms of resilience, such as avoidance or denial of one's trauma, may actually impede the healing process.

A poignant theme emerges as they emphasize the significance of facing one's story with courage and vulnerability, rather than turning away from it. They point out that resilience is not merely surviving but actively engaging with one's narrative and inviting others into that process.

If you’d like to hear more from Linda and Wendell, we invite you to explore the Racial Trauma & Healing offerings from the Allender Center at . There you’ll find a free informational video series and details about our upcoming Story Workshop for Racial Trauma & Healing and our new Women’s Recovery Week with a Focus on Racial Trauma & Healing, both happening this spring.

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What exactly is Narrative Focused Trauma Care? It’s grounded in the belief that healing is not only possible but also essential to the unfolding gospel story within and around us. This holistic approach integrates psychology and theology to holistically engage the heartbreaking impact of trauma and abuse with compassion and care through story. 

The Allender Center specializes in training people to understand their own stories in order to more deeply enter the lives of those they are called to love and serve. We come alongside to equip and develop skills for wading into the difficult waters of heartache, trauma, and abuse.

The foundations of Narrative Focused Trauma Care are unpacked in Level I training, where you'll explore your own narratives and those of others, with the ultimate goal of moving towards healing – for yourself, your relationships, and the broader community, paving the way for future generations

In this episode, Dan and Rachael will lead us through the four intensive weekends of Narrative Focused Trauma Care Level I training, offering insights into what participants can expect and some of the transformative experiences that wait for you.

Dan emphasizes, “We want people to imagine in the small and in whatever ways they are drawn to dream, to begin to move into… better trauma care through story and ultimately the story of Jesus.”

Be sure to catch the first part of this two-part conversation where we go deeper into the “why” behind Narrative Focused Trauma Care.


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We believe that healing, wholeness, connection, and flourishing are not just possibilities - it’s what we’re made for. We’re meant to know and to be known.

Join Dan and Rachael as they guide you through a profound exploration of Narrative Focused Trauma Care and its theological roots. This conversation shares some of the "why" behind our healing and training offerings at the Allender Center.

They delve into the Genesis narrative, illuminating the intersection between beauty and brokenness, tracing the shattering of shalom, and recognizing the lasting impact of trauma.

Dan introduces the concept of "already and not yet," framing salvation as a journey encompassing past, present, and future. The conversation emphasizes the intricate interplay between brokenness and beauty, acknowledging humanity's struggle to find connection amidst trauma.

Get ready for an insightful exploration that will deepen your understanding of Narrative Focused Trauma Care and its theological foundations, as we journey together toward healing and hope. 

Be sure to join us next week to unpack the specifics of Narrative Focused Trauma Care and the training process involved in this holistic approach.


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Forming new, meaningful adult friendships or maintaining friendships throughout different seasons of life can be challenging. Can you really be friends with coworkers or the other parents at your kids' soccer games? And how do you tell if someone's just an acquaintance or a true friend?

What makes a friendship strong? How can you tell if you're a good friend and if someone's a good friend to you? 

Dan and Rachael take a look at the joy, depth, and sometimes messy beauty of genuine connections between people. From shared purposes to meaningful conversations and navigating conflicts with grace, they explore the essential ingredients of true friendship.


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“Everyone’s disciplined for what they love,” states Dr. Dan Allender. 

The quest for becoming "more disciplined" prompts questions about motivation. Is it fueled by a higher purpose or overshadowed by shame and guilt? Does discipline revolve around self-control or simply a desire for control? What are the costs of being disciplined - and what goodness results from it?

In their discussion, Dan and Rachael dive into these questions and more. They explore the complexities of discipline, the significance of small disciplined actions, and the sustaining power of delight and beauty.


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This week, Dr. J. Derek McNeil, the president of The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, engages in a candid dialogue with Dr. Dan Allender, exploring the multifaceted challenges of leading in today's turbulent times.

Whether you hold a formal leadership role or not, this conversation speaks to the universal nature of leadership. Whether as a parent, grandparent, or friend, each of us has a level of influence on others and grapples with the burden of providing guidance amid uncertainty.

The conversation explores the tension between agency and dependence, and the balancing act of taking action and surrendering to a larger divine plan. 

Derek candidly shares his journey, grappling with the uncertainties of life while prioritizing his mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. Drawing from his upbringing and faith tradition, he finds solace in scripture, particularly Jeremiah 29:11, during moments of uncertainty and despair. His emphasis on cultivating a support system and fostering collaboration underscores the importance of community in leadership roles.

As you engage with this conversation between two insightful leaders, we hope it deepens your understanding of the complexities of leadership and sparks a sense of renewed hope amid life's uncertainties.


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Join Dan and Rachael as they continue last week’s discussion about spiritual abuse. This week, they shift their focus to the healing process, exploring the challenges of naming and reconciling our experiences with spiritual abuse, particularly the difficulty in trusting others with our stories.

Spiritual abuse casts a shadow, creating a landscape of distrust, fragmentation, and isolation, often cutting us off from the very thing that can help us heal - one another.

Drawing from years of conducting Story Workshops, Dan and Rachael underscore the transformative power found in the collective sharing of our stories. It is this understanding that has led to the creation of the Story Workshop for Spiritual Abuse & Healing, which is designed to serve as a safe space for sharing, grieving, and hopefully, discovering more of the goodness of God within your own story.

If you've felt the impact of spiritual abuse and are seeking a supportive, facilitated community to navigate the healing process, consider joining this transformative Story Workshop, happening March 15-17, 2024. You can learn more at

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As we prepare for our upcoming Story Workshop for Spiritual Abuse & Healing, Dan and Rachael return to discuss to the insidious issue of spiritual abuse and the broken systems that perpetuate this type of harm.

As many systems around us are crumbling, we hear story after story about overt abuse and misuse of power in high-profile churches and ministries. We also know that spiritual abuse can manifest across a spectrum, with some individuals perpetrating harm knowingly, while others may unknowingly be influenced by the systems they are part of, operating with good intentions or lacking awareness of subtle forms of spiritual abuse.

Listen to learn how to recognize some of the subtleties of spiritual abuse – and also consider how to lean in as we personally and collectively seek redemption. Knowing that every system bears some brokenness, the question becomes:  how do we participate? Can we actively seek healing and redemption without giving in to cynicism?

Join us next week for a follow-up to today’s conversation. If you have experienced spiritual abuse in your own life, we invite you to join us for the upcoming Story Workshop for Spiritual Abuse & Healing. Registration is now open at

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Containment is both something that we need to receive and it's something that we can provide for others in our roles as parents, spouses, friends, and members of a greater community - particularly during challenging times.

Containment is not about control or maintaining the status quo; instead, it involves creating a safe space for others to express emotions and navigate difficulties.

The concept of containment is closely tied to attunement, which means being aware of others' needs and understanding our own capacity as well.

If you've heard about these concepts but want a deeper understanding and practical implementation in your life, we hope this episode offers you an insightful introduction.

Listener Resources: 

To take a deeper dive into the concepts of containment, attunement, and attachment theory in your own life, particularly as they relate to your family of origin, and learn to provide spaces of containment and healing for others, we recommend enrolling in the Story Sage Series online course from the Allender Center.

If you’re a visual learner, we also recommend checking out Lindsay Braman’s article and stunning sketchnotes which wonderfully explain the concepts of containment and attunement.


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As we step into 2024, the global landscape presents us with profound challenges – from conflicts in Palestine and Israel to widespread war, economic disparities, and political divisions. Add to this mix the heightened levels of anxiety and rage permeating our society, all unfolding against the backdrop of an election year here in the U.S.

In the midst of this complexity, how do we navigate our growing personal and collective anxiety, and can it be an opportunity for us to live more fully according to the gospel?

To explore these questions, we’re honored to welcome back Curtis Chang, the author of "The Anxiety Opportunity" and co-author of "The After Party," as our first guest of the year. Curtis chats with us about how engaging with our own anxiety and that of others can pave the way for more restorative conversations and offer more hope as we look into the year ahead.

Join us for this enlightening conversation to learn more about Curtis's work with his latest project, "The After Party," in today's episode. If you missed our previous discussion with Curtis last spring, you can catch it here.

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