The potential impact of trauma and existential threats on one's religious and spiritual belief systems

Interview-style, with Elizabeth Irias, LMFT

  • Course Description

    Core to our sense of self is our belief system, be that religious, spiritual, or other. Though these concepts may be briefly discussed in graduate programs, therapists rarely receive direct training in how to work with clients who come from various religious backgrounds, let alone consider how religious and spiritual struggles affect client’s mental health, well-being, and self-concept. In this course, listeners learn how religion and spirituality provides a cohesive worldview to manage existential threats, and the impact of religious and spiritual trauma on our sense of self. This course also discusses how to support clients when suffering occurs and their worldview is threatened.

    NOTE: This episode discusses religious trauma and identity traumas, including the discussion of existential crises surrounding experiences like sexual violence, racism, sexism, queerphobia, purity culture, infertility, etc.

  • Learning Objectives

    Upon completing this course, participants will be able to: List the existential themes that religion and spirituality address; Define ‘existential threat’ and describe its relation to belief systems; Explain the concept of ‘religious trauma’

    Target Audience and Instructional Level
    This course is intended for psychologists, therapists, social workers, clinical counselors, and addiction counselors. Instructional level: Intermediate

  • How To Take This Course

    In order to receive a certificate of completion reflecting the associated CE credit hour, you must:
    #1: Have an active paid Clearly Clinical membership
    #2: Listen to the corresponding course podcast
    #3: Achieve a passing grade on the post-presentation test (the test has up to ten questions and you must earn a score of at least 80%; you are able to re-test)
    #4: Complete the requested course evaluation.

    Course elements (including the course audio, post-test, and requested course evaluation) can be completed on a computer or mobile device via your Clearly Clinical account.

  • Course Format

    This high-quality and interesting course contains a one-hour, non-interactive audio podcast presentation which is available for free via all major public podcast providers. You can also listen to and download the file via our course player.

  • Commercial Support

    There is no known commercial support or conflict of interest for this CE program, presenter, sponsor, instructor, or content. Please note that this program's presenter, Sara Showalter Van Tongeren, is the co-author of the book 'The Courage to Suffer: A New Clinical Framework for Life's Greatest Crises', which she mentions during the course. It should also be noted that Sara's partner, Dr. Daryl Van Tongeren, conducted some of the research Sara discusses during the course.

  • Certificate Access Details

    Once you've completed the course, your certificate will automatically populate in the 'Certificate' section of your account; it will also be emailed to you. Access to completion certificate will expire 365 days after issuance. Course certificates will be on file for ten (10) years from date of course completion.

  • Accommodations

    If you have special needs or need an accommodation, please email us at and we will do our best to assist you.

Interviewee and Interviewer

Sara Showalter Van Tongeren, LMSW

Expert in Existential Positive Psychology

Sara A. Showalter Van Tongeren, LCSW specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, Narrative Therapy, Brainspotting, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, and Liberation Psychology. She won the 2020 Social Justice Award given by the City of Holland for her work in helping to pass the city’s first Non-Discrimination Ordinance. Please visit Sara at, and follow her on Instagram @theexistentialtherapist.

Together, Daryl and Sara co-authored the book, The Courage To Suffer , which is published by Templeton Press and available wherever books are sold.

Elizabeth 'Beth' Irias, MS, LMFT

Interviewer & Clearly Clinical Founder

Elizabeth 'Beth' Irias (she/her) is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and the Founder and President of Clearly Clinical. She has specializations in Clinical Documentation, Best Practice, and Utilization Review, and works closely with clinical teams across the US as a trainer and national conference presenter; Beth was formerly an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in the Graduate Psychology and Education department. Licensed in California and Oregon, she provides therapy via her private practice to young adult and adult clients, members of the LGBTQ population, and those with addictive disorders. She has two young children, a super cool spouse who helps out with Clearly Clinical's tech, and a rescue dog.

See why we're the country's premier CE provider

  • CONVENIENT: All courses are 1-hour podcast episodes, available on all public podcast platforms

  • AFFORDABLE: We offer quality CE courses through a reasonably-priced membership

  • SOCIALLY-RESPONSIBLE: We donate to The Trevor Project for LGBTQIA+ youth suicide prevention

  • WOMEN-OWNED: We are founded and run by Elizabeth Irias, LMFT

  • DIVERSE: We highlight expert presenters from historically-marginalized communities

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