Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Counseling

Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Counseling Online Graduate Certificate

About Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Counseling Certificate

Learn how to integrate spiritual perspectives into your counseling practice or pastoral care.

Facilitate awareness and positive change with a 100% online graduate certificate in spiritual, ethical and religious counseling (SERC) from PennWest California. It's a perfect way to add specialization to a graduate degree or professional background in counseling, social work, ministry or a related field in the helping professions.

PennWest California's certificate program embraces a cross-cultural approach and promotes diversity awareness. We uphold the American Counseling Association (ACA) codes of ethics and the Association for Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling (ASERVIC) competencies. 

Advanced program courses focus on applicable skills.

  • Theoretical applications to the field.
  • Grief and loss counseling and care.
  • Contemporary spiritual perspectives.
  • Ethics in spiritual and religious counseling.
  • The integration of spiritual, ethical and religious counseling skills.


100% Online
Our online certification program is asynchronous, which means you never have to log on to a course at a certain time. Classes utilize streaming video lectures, narrated PowerPoint presentations and online forums. Discussion groups, chat rooms and email allow for communication, interaction and insight.

Top Quality Courses
Certificate courses can be used as Act 48 continuing education units, and applied toward Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC) credentials. All spiritual, ethical and religious counseling courses are housed in PennWest California's Department of Counselor Education, which is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and related educational programs (CACREP).

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This three-course (9-credit) certificate can be completed in 15 weeks.
AffordableCollegesOnline.org named PennWest California Best in State Online College in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.
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Degree Benefits

This program will give you skills and tools to facilitate spiritual awareness and positive change in individuals and social systems, including:

  • Skills to treat grief and loss, existential issues, and applicable diagnoses.
  • A high level of self-awareness.
  • An understanding of counseling professionalism and the Ethical Guidelines and Standards of Practice of the American Counseling Associates.
  • A sensitivity to diversity and the uniqueness of people within social and cultural contexts.
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Graduate Outcomes

A certificate in spiritual, ethical and religious counseling prepares students and practitioners to better serve populations in a variety of counseling and ministry jobs and settings, including:

  •  Hospitals
  • Private practices.
  • Community agencies, rescue missions and shelters.
  • Churches, or faith-based counseling centers.
  • Military facilities.

Curriculum, Admission Requirements and Related Programs

This three-course (9-credit) certificate program starts in the summer or winter terms and is 100% online. Courses will not certify you as a Professional Counselor or Pastoral Counselor, but may be utilized for LPC, NCC and Act 48 credits.



Course Credits
CED 770  Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling 3
CED 771  Applied Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Counseling Theory 3
CED 772  Grief and Loss Counseling  OR  CED 788  Contemporary Topics in Counselor Education 3
Total 9
Admission Requirements

Regular Admission Requirements

  • Certificate:  Bachelor's degree with a GPA of 2.90 or higher (Students with a GPA below 2.90 may apply for conditional admission)
  • Official transcripts from an accredited institution
  • Interview may be required
  • One-page resume of work and education may be required

Conditional Admission Requirements

  • Conditional Admission may be granted with the following modifications of the Regular Admissions Requirements:
    • Certificate:  Bachelor's degree with a GPA under 2.90 will be reviewed for a decision
    • Interview may be required
    • One-page resume of work and education may be required

Provisional Admission:
Applicants who have provided unofficial documentation of test scores, prerequisite courses, transcripts or lack of letter(s) of recommendation may be admitted provisionally.

This policy also applies to undergraduate students who apply for graduate admission pending bachelor degree completion. Upon receipt of all official documents, a student will be changed from Provisional Admission to either Regular Admission or Conditional Admission. Provisional Admission students may take classes for one term but will not be eligible for Federal Financial Aid.

How to Apply:

School of Graduate Studies and Research
PennWest California
Box 91
250 University Ave. 
California, PA 15419

For additional information:
Email: gradschool@calu.edu
Phone: 1.866.595.6348

Related Programs

Master's Degree


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Faculty Hero: Dr. Grafton Eliason

Meet, Dr. Grafton Eliason, professor of spiritual, ethical and religious counseling and coordinator of PennWest California's clinical mental health counseling program. Dr. Eliason is also an ordained Presbyterian minister who was awarded the Southwestern Pennsylvania Red Cross 2014 Hero Educator Award. His extensive publications include the co-edited books Career Development Across the Lifespan and Existential and Spiritual Issues in Death Attitudes.

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Program Philosophy

PennWest California's counselor education program is predicated on the belief that humans are bio-psycho-social-spiritual beings who have the capacity for self-reflection, to be responsible for their actions, and to articulate personal meanings for existence.

Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Counseling Faculty

Dr. Grafton Eliason


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Dr. Elizabeth Gruber


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Dr. Robert Mehalik
Assistant Professor


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Dr. Jeff L. Samide


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Dr. Jacqueline Walsh


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