In this three-part series on Mormon Stories, we interview the fabulous Natasha Helfer Parker, MFT, CST — host of Mormon Mental Health podcast — to finally hear her “Mormon story.”

This interview covers:

  • Being raised in the Church with convert parents in Spain and her eventual move to the US.
  • Natasha and her family’s concerns about the practice of polygamy and frustration that their questions never seemed to be answered.
  • The impact of being a victim of sexual trauma as a child and teenager, and how it influenced her experiences exploring her sexuality as a teenager and young adult.
  • Her removal from BYU because of her sexual experiences, and her thoughts now about the unintended consequences of BYU’s honor code enforcement.
  • How she met her husband and disclosed her sexual past in an act of transparency, and how it affected their first years of their marriage.
  • Her thoughts now about the difference between behavior and self-worth within the Church, especially as it relates to sexual behavior.
  • Her decision to become a sex therapist and how her move to the Midwest became an impetus to develop a wider online presence.
  • How being a believer in the faith, but having a nuanced view of sexuality led her to being widely known as the “Mormon Sex Therapist
  • How cracks developed in her Orthodox faith foundation, stemming from: 1) being black-listed by local bishops and stake presidency members for supporting masturbation on her blog, and 2) poor treatment of her daughter by ward leadership (due to her daughter’s support of Ordain Women and LGBTQ rights).
  • Her decision to stop attending the LDS church, and to stop paying tithing (due in large part to the LDS church’s tendency to silence and pay off rape victims to keep them quiet and to avoid law suits).
  • Her recent decision to return to LDS church activity, to support her son who desires to continue attending.

Other links mentioned in podcast:

Posts discussed on the podcast:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:




  1. Duck July 6, 2017 at 1:58 am - Reply

    I have only listened to part 1 thus far. I applaud Natasha for being so open with her own story. It is hard, I am sure, to walk that fine line about which she talked, being both a therapist and being the one telling her story. I have been touched with her honesty and vulnerability. On many levels, I have experienced what she has with bishops, etc. It is so hard to go to a Bishop, needing spiritual healing and compassion but to be met with judgement and harshness instead. I have also been there and I am sad she had to experience that.

    Part 1 ended with both John and Natasha taking about how one’s worth is different than one’s behavior. I thought my heart would explode when Natasha was sharing about being a teenager and hearing the nail in the wood analogy. That literally took my breath away that young people, anyone, are told that even with the atonement, they are less than whole because of what they’ve done. Why have an atonement if that is the case??

    Elizabeth Smart talked about feeling like no one would want her after being raped by her kidnapper because she, too, had grown up with the “chewed piece of gum” analogy. She is working so hard now to make sure that THAT narrative gets changed, that because of what happens to us does NOT diminish our worth. Natasha is saying the same thing.

    Thanking you for all you have shared!! Loves.

    • Duck July 14, 2017 at 2:22 am - Reply

      Ms. Parker: I contacted your online service, did not leave a phone message, instead I filled out the form for contact. I have not heard from anyone yet. I did leave my online moniker, Duck, as my contact name instead of my real name, but the email and phone number were both real, what I wrote in my comment there was real, my reason for needing the therapy.
      Thank you, Duck. I hope to hear from someone from your office regarding my request. Happy morning.

    • Lizbet July 17, 2017 at 4:36 pm - Reply

      I ultimately decided that Mormonism takes you further from Christianity by encouraging perfectionism (no need for Christ) and shaming (atonement is irrelevant). I heard many analogies as a teen about chewed gum, fly in a milkshake, etc. When I would make moral slips as a teen, I would berate myself in the mirror for being a filthy piece of trash. As an adult I was taught in a class that if you make a mistake, you stall on the progression path and will never be as far ahead as the people who didn’t make mistakes and kept going. I refuse to raise my children in this toxic environment where you’re never good enough.

      Speaking of Elizabeth Smart, there were a lot of Joseph Smith parallels in the case that seriously rattled my shelf (aside from the general awfulness of it all), but that’s another topic.

  2. Dot July 7, 2017 at 7:41 am - Reply

    I don’t have Facebook, but I follow Mormon Stories and have learned so much since finding you in 2015.

    I want to thank you Natasha from the bottom of my heart for this beautiful, open hearted interview.

    I knew I’d be able to openly thank God for my clitoris without any shame some day! And your laugh made my laugh come back.

  3. Ryan July 7, 2017 at 11:42 am - Reply

    I didn’t think I could be more of a fan of Natasha that I already was, but I am! What a wonderful gift of an interview this is! Incredible vulnerability, honesty, insight, wisdom, … (I could go on and on.) This is exactly why I am a committed monthly contributor to the Open Stories Foundation. Love this!

  4. Ryan July 7, 2017 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    I can really relate to the husband discomfort with marrying someone with extensive sexual experience prior to marriage. My ex0wife had had a baby given up for adoption as well. I was not just a Mormon dick, I was a dick in every sense of the word over this issue and it was a marital problem for a long time. There is nothing I regret more from my marriage than how I treated here over this. While this issue was not related to our divorce after 13 years of marriage there is nothing I want to go back and change more than that.

  5. Ryan July 8, 2017 at 11:20 am - Reply

    Finally finished. I can see the attraction and desire to go back into activity. Natasha seems to have similar attachment to Mormonism as I do. I’m a devout atheist that resigned in 2012 and yet feel inspired to be re baptized

  6. Gustavo July 10, 2017 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    I rarely post anywhere but I wanted to say I enjoyed your recent interview with Mr. Dehlin. I didn’t know who you were but I listened to all three podcasts.

    It seems that on many podcasts that deal with Mormonism, you must first relate your Mormon ancestry (4th generation LDS, relatives came over the plains, etc.) to show your credibility. I don’t think this is intentional by anyone and of course introductions are always helpful but there always seems to be a Utah ancestry-kind of pedigree that must be explored to insure credibility.

    In no way am I being critical of MS because it helped me in my transition out of the church, however, non-Utah LDS members have a Mormon story as well. I enjoyed the Lamanite series recently. There seems to be an interesting story that perhaps has not been fully explored by John between Mormon transitions of Mormons deeply rooted in Utah Mormonism versus transitions of non-Utah Mormons. Many would say that there is a big difference between Utah Mormons and non-Utah Mormons. Consequently, their transitions out and perspectives are different also.

    Some things that resonated with me.
    I was born in Argentina also (Avellaneda). My father was the 500th member of the LDS church in Argentina. We migrated from Argentina to the US. My father worked in the translation department on the BOM Spanish translation for a time at BYU.

    I related to the feeling of never “fitting in” with the LDS culture. This was very true in my life where I always got the impression that Utah Mormons seemed to be of a royal line. I saw this in my life living in Utah and attending BYU. My wife’s family are all pioneer stock Mormons and I would see this dynamic often in family interactions.

    The LDS church can have an appealing message, especially for Latinos. Family, the BOM angle and having answers to questions that Catholic Priests could never answer. Ironically, the cracks began for me on my LDS mission.

    Thanks for your story.

    • Lizbet July 17, 2017 at 4:10 pm - Reply

      The pedigree intro always makes me wonder if it’s intended to show a level of prior devotion to legitimize the exit, or maybe it’s meant to imply that their family is ingrained in the church, which makes leaving more complicated and difficult. Not a criticism, as I think it’s reflexive in the Mormon culture, either in or out, to give some type of pedigree.

  7. charlie July 18, 2017 at 6:14 am - Reply

    Madre Argentina!! cool.. Prima!!!!

    No wonder you can talk openly about sexuality :) Lol…..

  8. Sandra August 8, 2017 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    Natasha, dump Wichita and move to Portland OR! Just a thought. ;)

  9. Deb Diener September 3, 2017 at 6:58 am - Reply

    This document is a compilation of quotes from Public Documents which include Legal Complaints; Appellate Court Rulings; Rulings on Legal Motions; Newspaper accounts; and the Boy Scouts of America Ineligible file documents. All links are provided. Transparency is the only way children will be protected.
    Although this document is very disturbing, there is nothing more upsetting and tragic than coping with the aftermath of abuse in someone you love. My hope is that this document will raise awareness so that your children will be better protected. (This is the first Church I have researched and I intend to continue this type of research with other churches and organizations). The document is a living document and to add an instance of sexual abuse by leaders or members of the Mormon Church to this document, please email me at: .

  10. Looking for some perspective July 31, 2018 at 5:27 am - Reply

    This one really hit me in a very similar way and situation. There’s a subject that’s been bothering me here and there for a while that I’ve never really been able to get some perspective or ideas on.  I’ve been married to my wife now for about 13 years and I’m sure we’ve been pretty typical on most accounts with the joys and challenges of marriage and raising a family. But there are some aspects of our intimate relationship that I am having a difficult time reconciling. We’ve both come from active LDS families, have gone on missions and met at BYU. It was during our courtship and talk of marriage and all that goes with it that she confessed that she had a relationship with a boyfriend in high school that turned sexual. She said she didn’t have “sex”, but did everything leading up to it; which basically came to mean oral sex. This relationship lasted about a year and she said that this was the only person this had happened with. Now this was very hard to hear from the person that I’ve really grown to love and want to marry. I did do a lot of reflection and told myself that this was something that I didn’t want to get in the way of our future.
    We eventually married and began that intimate relationship as man and wife. I do have to say that I really enjoy the intimacy and sex that I have with my wife and believe that she does as well. Here’s where my issue comes into play. While sex does happen reasonably regularly, oral sex (both giving and receiving) is rare. Now I’m not looking for this to happen all the time or even come close to replacing our usual sexual intimacy, but I would like to know that this is something that I can have with my wife more often than with the gaps of many months to even years that happen now.
    It’s pretty obvious that there is good emphasis placed in the LDS Church on keeping chaste before marriage. I now know the levels of intimacy that happen between two people when these things take place. I sure didn’t know that level before (how could I?), and now I have a glimpse of what happened in my wife’s previous relationship, and it makes it extremely difficult to realize the the things they were regularly doing. I know I tried to resolve this feeling before marriage, but I almost feel like I was missing a large part of knowledge that might be needed to make decisions in this area; but it’s knowledge I’m not even supposed to have at that point! Sometimes I almost feel tricked into trying to forgive something I had no real knowledge of. This has even gotten to the point that I have the feeling that I actually regret having kept chaste in this area myself. Even that perhaps I’ve missed the boat with oral sex waiting for marriage myself. I never thought I would ever have regret for doing what I thought was following the commandments.
    Growing up, you’re constantly told to wait for this stuff and that it will be worth the wait. I’m mostly still waiting in this area. I’ve been built up with an expectation of fulfillment and satisfaction for waiting with these things till marriage.
    I have had discussions relating these things to my wife and she says that this is something that we can have together in our marriage, but it still just doesn’t really happen. She has mentioned before that it just really isn’t her “thing”. Somehow, she was able to make it her “thing” with someone else. How can I reconcile the fact that she was willing to have oral sex with her boyfriend regularly (when that really shouldn’t have ever happened), but now with her husband (with whom I would hope it can happen), it doesn’t really happen? My wife is the one that I’ve chosen to be the only person I’m going to do these things with. But now I can’t help but feel like she’s chosen to keep this area of intimacy mostly between her and someone else.
    Are these thoughts and feelings reasonable? Am I (or my wife) way off on how this situation is presenting itself in our marriage? Is it alright for me to desire this type of intimacy with my wife? Are there good ways to talk about this or bring this up? I even understand how this might be a small thing, but it has always been a dark area I can’t get rid of.

    • mtmama May 7, 2019 at 12:14 am - Reply

      You need a diversion. I think it would be a good idea for you to focus on your wife’s orgasms. Is she having as much pleasure as you are and as often? Read “And It Was Very Good”.

      • EP August 5, 2019 at 1:08 pm - Reply

        I’m the author of And It Was Very Good. Thanks for the recommendation! The PDF of the book is free from me at Or you can get it online at Barnes and Noble (cheaper), Amazon, Audible, or iTunes.

  11. honest girl August 25, 2018 at 4:26 am - Reply

    im just going to be bruttaly honest here. you need to get over it! or talk to her about it, it seems almost petty… nobody likes to think of their significant ither in sexual situations with others but point is, it HAPPENED,,, nithing you can do now.. also for women , sex and oral and marriage and “teen foreplay” is sooooooo different to us then it is to men. i can seriously imagine what yoyr wife us thinking… (only because ive been there) I’ll sum it up…
    yay im a teenager.. im horny.. what are all these feelings, what is going on with my body??? oh wow he’s hot! ooh puppy love! I WANT him (we’ll be together forever… right? isnt this true love?) hmmm we cant have sex, were not married, dont wanna get pregnant, what if i go to hell? hmmm I do want to please him though!! why not? hes hot, I THINK I love him.. what we do feels goid and is fun! if I dont please him, will he find someone who will? no!of course not! im going to take care of his needs …..
    years go by… what was I thinking? omg I was so dumb and ewww i did THAT with HIM.. eww! well I thought we’d be together forever…
    meet husband! yay!now I definitly found the ONE well of course im goung to please HIM and omg were MARRIED so we can have SEX!! oh wow… years and or months later…. why isnt this fun like it used to be? eh we dont need to do THAT tonight (we just did it a few minths ago who cares) we’ll have sex, we’ll finish and I can go to bed, get my nails done, garden, take care if the kids etc….

    that is how we think, its how were wired, it sucks!!! (no pun intended) sexual experementing is fun and exciting when you first meet someone no doubt, (remember when you couldnt keep your hands off each other in the beginning, but now you can go weeks without sex WHAT?) MIND BLOWN YET? we get older our hormones are NOT what they were… weve done it sooo many times now so we KNOW how its gonna turn out. sorry I told you I’d be blunt… sex and oral can be amazing… but it can also get VERY repetitive when youre married to someone and have SO much more to think about then just “Omg I could get caught or if I dont please him he’ll get with that hot senior” now its more of “I really need to go get my hair done… Ugh do I have to put out tonight? of course not! were married hes not gonna leave me, besides Im not in the mood… boring, repetitive, etc…
    and that is the difference in a young teen vs a married woman
    ROMANCE her, spice it up, change things… DONT DWELL ON LITTLE JOHNNY IN HIGH SCHOOL, CAUSE TRUST ME SHES NOT….. and if you do youre “jealous” or “psycho” or a “sex addict” does this make sense? you need to let it go and romance her, if uts not there its not there… best of luck

  12. Bryan September 17, 2021 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    Hi John, I have a story on how the LDS fund has direct financial gain with vax and would like to ask the best way to get this data to you.

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