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Digital Seminar

Religious Trauma, Spiritual Abuse and Cult Recovery: Treating the Trauma Caused by Adverse Religious Experiences

Kathryn Keller, PhD |  Anna Clark Miller, LPC-S
Approx. 6 Hours
May 03, 2024
Product Code:
Media Type:
Digital Seminar - Also available: Live Webinar

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Clients afraid they’re going to hell because they had sex with their boyfriends. Clients burdened by shame and disowned for exploring their sexual identities. Clients abused or shunned when they dared to question the rigid beliefs enforced by their church, family, or partners.

These aren’t the sensational stories of celebrities, cults and abuse garnering widespread focus in the media. These are regular people, lots of them, participating in mainstream religious communities, and carrying the weight of spiritual wounds that so often go unnoticed or unnamed.

Today these clients are recognizing their religious trauma. And more of them than ever before and looking for specialized treatment.

Watch religious trauma experts Dr. Kathryn Keller and Anna Clark Miller LPC-S to get the knowledge, skills, and therapeutic approaches you need to confidently work with individuals who have endured religious trauma, spiritual abuse, and the effects of high-control environments.

You’ll get what you need to:

  • Assess for the presence and extent of spiritual abuse and religious trauma
  • Understand underlying dynamics that keep clients stuck in oppressive religious environments
  • Connect clients with sources of meaning-making and connection of their own choosing (whether religious or not)
  • Tailor therapy to diverse identities including women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and more

And much more!

Don’t miss this chance to illuminate the path to recovery and transformation for this rapidly growing clinical population.

Purchase now!


Planning Committee Disclosure - No relevant relationships

All members of the PESI, Inc. planning committee have provided disclosures of financial relationships with ineligible organizations and any relevant non-financial relationships prior to planning content for this activity. None of the committee members had relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies or other potentially biasing relationships to disclose to learners.  For speaker disclosures, please see the faculty biography.

CE Information Coming Soon

Continuing education credit information is coming soon for this non-interactive self-study package.

CEs may be available for select professions, as listed in the target audience. Hours will be dependent on the actual recording time. Please check with your state licensing board or organization for specific requirements. 

There may be an additional fee for CE certificates. Please contact our Customer Service at 1-800-844-8260 for more details. 

**Materials that are included in this course may include interventions and modalities that are beyond the authorized practice of your profession. As a licensed professional, you are responsible for reviewing the scope of practice, including activities that are defined in law as beyond the boundaries of practice in accordance with and in compliance with your professions standards.


Kathryn Keller, PhD's Profile

Kathryn Keller, PhD Related seminars and products

Kathryn Keller, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and licensed professional counselor – supervisor in Dallas, TX. She co-owns a group counseling practice, Dallas Therapy Collective, where she sees clients for individual therapy. She graduated from Texas Woman’s University with her doctorate in counseling psychology and from the University of Virginia with a master’s in mental health counseling. She conducted her doctoral dissertation on the topic of spiritual abuse, resulting in the first known measure of spiritual abuse. Kathryn’s practice is focused on clients who have experienced traumatic stress with an emphasis on spiritual and religious trauma and often intersecting marginalized identities. She works particularly well with people who have experienced high levels of control in fundamentalist and evangelical Christian traditions. In addition to therapy, she enjoys training, consulting, supervising, and running many of the behind-the-scenes business aspects of her group practice.


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Kathryn Keller is co-owner of Dallas Therapy Collective. She receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Kathryn Keller is a member of the International Cult Studies Association.


Anna Clark Miller, LPC-S's Profile

Anna Clark Miller, LPC-S Related seminars and products

Anna Clark Miller, LPC-S, grew up on the mission field and spent her early adulthood working and volunteering in churches. As a counseling grad student, however, she became aware of her body’s trauma responses and started connecting them with past experiences in highly controlling religious communities. Today she specializes in treating survivors of religious trauma. Her book Religious Trauma Survival Guide: Education and Recovery for Survivors and Professionals, offers a tangible path to healing from high-control religious experiences. She is also the host of the podcast, Martyr, She Wrote for religious trauma survivors who are looking for education, empathy, and recovery. Each episode features an interview with a survivor or expert on topics including abusive religious leaders, religious OCD, BIPOC and queer experiences, clergy religious trauma, and more.


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Anna Clark Miller has employment relationships with Dallas Therapy Collective , Intrepid Therapy Collective, and Empathy Paradigm. She receives royalties as a published author and is a podcast host for Martyr, She Wrote. Anna Clark Miller receives a speaking honorarium from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Anna Clark Miller has no relevant non-financial relationships.


Additional Info

Access for Self-Study (Non-Interactive)

Access never expires for this product.


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  1. Identify the importance of addressing clients’ spiritual struggles.
  2. Examine how religion can be both a coping resource and source of stress and trauma.
  3. Identify how the restrictions and coercive tactics associated with high control environments can lead to mental health disorders.
  4. Utilize interview questions to get information about a client’s exposure to spiritual abuse.
  5. Choose interventions to provide culturally competent care to clients who have experienced religious trauma.
  6. Determine gaps and limitations in the existing research on religious trauma.


Religious Trauma: Core Concepts and Characteristics

  • The historical context of religious trauma
  • Define religious trauma, spiritual abuse and related terms
  • Identify characteristics and distinguishing from other forms of trauma
  • How religious trauma shapes one’s sense of identity, self-worth, and beliefs

High Control Dynamics in Religious or Cult Contexts and Their Traumatic Impacts

  • Power and control within religious contexts and their implications on trauma
  • The cycle of spiritual abuse
  • Control mechanisms and their psychological aftermath
  • The tactics of thought reform
  • When they leave: spiritual crisis, isolation, and stigmatization

Signs, Symptoms, Screening, and Assessment

  • Religious Trauma Syndrome: the components of RTS
  • Behavioral, emotional, and psychological signs
  • Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire: assess for the presence and extent of spiritual abuse
  • Interview techniques to elicit clients’ experiences of religious trauma
  • Stages of religious identity development
  • Analyze case studies to apply assessment concepts

Religious Trauma Treatment Guide: Key Considerations and Approaches

  • Using Judith Herman’s stages of recovery as a roadmap for treatment
  • Channel countertransference into insight, growth, and therapeutic breakthroughs
  • Explore your own religious/spiritual experiences and biases
  • Cultural dynamics and culturally relevant support
  • Mastering the balance of self-disclosure and therapeutic boundaries
  • Explore complex spiritual grief
  • Treatment approaches from IFS, EMDR, somatic strategies, and more to help clients:
    • Heal from binary thinking
    • Explore survival strategies for these overwhelming environments
    • Develop self-compassion
    • Process early negative beliefs that were supported by harmful doctrines
    • Connect with the wisdom of their bodies
    • Restore shattered boundaries and form healthier relationships
  • Research, limitations, and treatment risks
  • Indications and contraindications

Tailoring Your Therapy to Diverse Identities:

  • Working with specific populations recovering from religious trauma
  • Address the unique experiences of women
  • BIPOC: the intersection of religious trauma and racial identity
  • LGBTQ+: Navigating the complexities
  • Recognize the needs of neurodiverse clients

Target Audience

  • Counselors
  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Addiction Counselors
  • Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Nurses
  • Psychiatrists
  • Physicians
  • Other Mental Health Professionals


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We would be happy to accommodate your ADA needs; please call our Customer Service Department for more information at 1-800-844-8260.

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