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The Early Homecoming podcast is dedicated to helping missionaries who return home early and to helping those who care about them. Below you can listen and learn more from experts of this phenomena. You can also listen to episodes in other categories.

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Podcast Episodes: Experts

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Episode 54: Psychologist and Life Coach, Cortland Watson, discusses the psychological and emotional aspects involved in returning home early from a mission

Psychologist and Life Coach, Cortland Watson, joined me on the podcast to discuss many of the psychological and emotional aspects involved in returning home early from a mission. Using personal stories and insights from his life, his career, and his education, Cortland guides the listener through learning more about emotions, identity, expectations, failure, shame, growth vs. fixed mindset, and so much more. He offers strategies for moving forward in life with connection. Cortland also addresses those struggling with abuse from others due to an early return and those contemplating suicide. This is an amazing episode for anyone struggling with returning home early from a mission.

Episode 38: Richard Ostler, former YSA Bishop, shares what he has learned about helping those who feel marginalized in the Church

In this podcast episode, Richard Ostler (host of the podcast Listen, Learn, and Love) shares what he has learned about helping those who feel marginalized in the Church, including early-returned missionaries. Richard has served in multiple leadership positions, including as a YSA bishop for three years. Richard is also the parent of an early-returned missionary (due to COVID and OCD Scrupulosity) and shares his experience of going through that trial with his son. In addition to these things, Richard also shares what is challenging about leadership positions, gives good advice to those who return home early, as well as to leaders, and lay church members. He emphasizes honoring personal revelation, utilizing the gift of the Atonement, and loving everyone–especially those we do not understand. And, he tells of his great love for millennials. This is an episode you won’t want to miss!

Episode 31: Elizabeth discusses returning home early due to OCD Scrupulosity and creating

In this episode, Elizabeth shares her struggle with OCD scrupulosity, which she describes best as “perfectionism.” On her mission, Elizabeth was very focused on always doing things right (which caused her to constantly feel that she was doing things wrong.) This confusion led to her being very rigid and upset with her companions. She also felt unworthy to be a missionary because she wasn’t perfect. After five months, she went home and began unpacking what had happened. As her healing began, she came to accept the Atonement and let it into her heart rather than feeling like its healing powers were something she had to earn. She tells me about why she created and what it has to offer early-returned missionaries as a resource website. Elizabeth is inspiring and if anyone is seeking to heal from OCD or perfectionism, listen to this episode and let the healing begin.

Episode 30: Drew Young shares with me his experience of returning home early from the MTC due to mental health struggles and talks about how he has since found purpose in his life’s mission

Drew Young, author of the new book “The Meaning of Your Mission: Lessons and Principles to Know You Are Enough,” shares with me his experience of returning home early from the MTC due to mental health struggles. He walks me through his journey of navigating years of lonely nights and suicidal thoughts to ultimately writing his book and sharing his story, and what he learned from it, with the world. Join me in listening to Drew as he discusses principles such as progress vs. perfection, exact obedience vs. obedience, the reasons we need to be careful about prying into people’s trials, and the anatomy of a mission call. Drew is an uplifting and engaging speaker who seeks to help others understand their greater missions in life and how our trials help us become who we are meant to be.

Episode 26: Bob and Elaine discuss, as parents, the effects of our culture on missionaries who return home early

In this episode, Bob and Elaine share their journey of navigating the culture of our Church that still surrounds missionaries who come home early as they experienced it with their son, who needed to return home early from the MTC. Their son was told terrible things about what would happen to him if he returned home early and Bob and Elaine had their work cut out for him in trying to undo the damage of the effects of cultural opinions about their son’s struggles and need to return home early. They dove into research provided by Dr. Kris Doty-Yells and have since prepared a presentation based on their experiences with our culture that they have presented at local levels and at church headquarters. Bob and Elaine are full of compassion towards missionaries who need to return home early and hope to some day see the culture and stigma change and want to do whatever they can to help change it.

Episode 16: Ask a Therapist

In this episode, Harmony Packer, a therapist at Healthier You in Lindon, Utah who specializes in treating early-returned missionaries, joins me again to answer questions from those who came home from their missions early or from those who care about them. These questions were submitted in advance.

Episode 12: Tammy Shares Her Perspective as a Parent and Researcher

In this episode, Tammy shares her perspective of being a mother of a missionary who came home early due to severe depression and anxiety. When her son came home, there were hardly any resources available to parents, and so Tammy dove into whatever research was available and wrote an article for parents titled “Wounded Warriors” which has been accepted for publication by the Ensign. Tammy and I discussed what she has learned and how she has grown through this trial, and also what is still hard about it. Tammy’s honesty makes her story very relatable to any other parent struggling with a child’s early return.

Episode 4: A Chat with Harmony Packer, Therapist and Researcher for Early-Returned Missionaries

Harmony Packer is a therapist at Healthier You in Lindon, Utah who specializes in treating early-returned missionaries. During her undergraduate degree, Harmony joined Dr. Kris Doty-Yells in her research on early-returned missionaries and their parents, helping her publish two research papers titled Return with Trauma: Understanding the Experiences of Early-Returned Missionaries and The Experiences of Parents of Early-Returned Missionaries. In this episode, Harmony and I discuss the types of trauma early-returned missionaries (and missionaries who complete the expected amount of time) face, as well as persistence of stigmas and why they exist. We also discuss how to find compassionate people to talk to and the dangers of isolating oneself during painful times. Harmony will be starting a therapy group for early-returned missionaries on August 15 with Healthier You.

Episode 1: My Story of Battling Parasites and Finding Peace with Returning Home Early

This is my story of returning home early from my Latter-day Saint mission. With the help of my husband, James, I navigate the listener through my experience of choosing to serve a mission, to feeling ill, to my hospital stays in the Philippines, to making the decision to return home early, to choosing to stay home, to finally where I am now: completely at peace with my mission and coming home early.

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