Faith Transitions

Instructors: Natasha Helfer, LCMFT, CST-S  & John Dehlin, Ph.D

This course will delve into the challenges therapists face and skills they need when assisting clients navigating faith transitions. As more individuals disengage from religious affiliations nationally, the process of shifting beliefs and distancing from faith communities is becoming more prevalent. The consequences are vast, including the unraveling of personal and communal identities, conflicts with family, social isolation, and what has been historically termed as "the dark night of the soul."

Therapists may encounter various presentations when working with individuals undergoing faith transitions. These may encompass identifying characteristics of the transition, managing associated emotions and expectations, promoting authenticity, redefining values and life's meaning, and aiding in the creation of a new sense of normalcy. Providing a supportive and validating environment, addressing personal biases, and understanding countertransference are crucial for mental health professionals to effectively serve these clients.

Respecting clients' values and beliefs while upholding professional standards and navigating personal biases, whether religious or secular, are essential components of individual counseling, particularly in a country with deep-rooted Christian traditions like the United States. Being adept at honoring clients' cultural and religious contexts ensures a comprehensive approach to their well-being.

# of CEs: 3 hours

Level of Instruction: Intermediate, Post-Graduate


  1. Identify the types of personal and community challenges a person going through a faith transition may typically experience. 
  2. Develop skills to help clients understand the anatomy of a faith transition: why they occur, what they can expect to experience, and how to come out the other side with increased authenticity, renewed personal identity and meaning in life.
  3. Develop skills to help clients understand group dynamics and navigate the many relational complications they are likely to experience.
  4. Develop skills to help a client navigate the many complex emotions they may be experiencing as they lose their old worldview: grief, anger, betrayal, isolation, feeling gaslit, etc.
  5. Identify the basic tasks a person going through a faith transition will need to address to successfully create a new worldview.
  6. Understand the difference between faith transition work, and when it develops into something more serious: religious trauma.

Why Should You Take This Course?

  • We are expected to practice mental health in ways that are Religiously and Spiritually Competent.

  • Institutionally, organized religious life in the United States is undergoing a dramatic transformation, with many disaffiliating or deconverting from their traditional faith communities.
  • Mental health professionals need to be prepared to understand and support the implications of a person’s faith transition and why this might be causing great individual and relational distress in their lives.
  • Faith transitions can both exacerbate or be the genesis of mental health disorders. Understanding these implications can help you properly assess the case and develop treatment plans that will result in better treatment results.
  • Earn credit for license renewal--scroll down to see which organizations have approved The Buehler Institute as a provider of continuing education!
Learn What's Important
Religion and spirituality are powerful aspects of the human experience and should not be ignored during mental health treatment. Religious disaffiliation, or going through a faith transition, is a life change that can affect an individual’s life in profound ways. A transition of belief may leave an individual experiencing fear, guilt, sorrow, pain, loss and even suffering on an existential level. There may also be severe social ramifications. These experiences can have serious implications for one’s well-being and health. However, life after religious disaffiliation also includes many positive aspects, such as experiences of joy, freedom, relief, gratitude and empowerment.
Learn by Example
Research consistently shows that religion and spirituality are considered important factors in many people's lives, including when they are going through a deconversion process. People prefer when clinicians are comfortable and unbiased in discussing these important shifts in their lives..

Natasha Helfer, LMFT, CSTS

Natasha Helfer LMFT, CST-S, received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Brigham Young University and her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Friends University.

She also received her certifications as a sex therapist and sex therapist supervisor from the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).

Helfer is a speaker, writer, and podcaster with 23 years of clinical experience primarily working with a Mormon clientele around issues of relational health, faith transitions and journeys, and sexuality. She writes a blog called "The Mormon Therapist," and hosts the podcasts "Mormon Mental Health," and "Mormon Sex Info."

Helfer has authored two books: “One Family, Two Views” (mixed-faith marriage) and “Check your Baggage” (challenging sex negative messages). Helfer has presented all over the country both in professional and public settings, has been invited as a guest speaker at several national and international events as well as been interviewed on a variety of podcasts, TV news programs and newspapers.

Helfer was recently excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormon church) for issues surrounding her advocacy for sexual health.

John Dehlin, Ph.D.

Dr. John Dehlin is a podcaster, non-profit CEO, activist, public speaker, and religious transitions coach. He is an expert in understanding and supporting people experiencing religious faith crises/ transitions. John has a Master’s degree in Instructional Technology, and a Ph.D. in Clinical and Counseling Psychology. His clinical training and research interests revolve around the nexus of religion and mental health, with an emphasis on navigating religious faith crises, as well as navigating the LGBTQ/religious identity conflict. John’s research has been published in numerous peer reviewed scientific journals. John owns a private coaching practice, also focusing on religion and mental health. John is the founder of Mormon Stories Podcast, the most popular and longest running podcast within Mormonism. He is also the co-host of The Gift of the Mormon Faith Crisis podcast. He is also the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Open Stories Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit whose mission is to “To promote understanding, healing, growth, and community for people experiencing or impacted by religious transition.” For more information on John visit www.johndehlin.com. He can be reached at drjohndehlin@gmail.com

LearnReligionTherapy.com by
The Buehler Institute

The Buehler Institute was created to provide the highest quality training in human sexuality for mental health professionals and healthcare providers. Its founder, Dr. Stephanie Buehler, is a licensed psychologist and author of a bestselling sex therapy textbook, among others. Our educational programs are designed to help people seeking AASECT certification in an effective and engaging format.

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The Buehler Institute is approved as a provider of continuing education by the following agencies. Many states licensing boards will accept CEs from these agencies for license renewal. It is, however, the responsibility of the enrollee to inquire with their state licensing board.

The Buehler Institute is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Buehler Institute maintains responsibility for all programs and their content.
The Buehler Institute has been approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) as an Approved Continuing Education Provider. The Buehler Institute is
solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.
The Buehler Institute is an institutional provider for the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). Provider #12-138-Q.
The Buehler Institute is approved as a continuing education provider for the California Board of Registered Nursing. Provider #CEP 16394.