Suffering is an inescapable part of life. Some suffering is so profound, so violating, or so dogged that it fundamentally changes people in indelible ways. Many existing therapeutic approaches, from a medical model, treat suffering as mental illness and seek a curative solution. However, such approaches often fail to examine the deep questions that suffering elicits (e.g., existential themes of death, isolation, freedom, identity, and meaninglessness) and the far-reaching ways in which suffering affects the lived experience of each individual.
In The Courage to Suffer, Daryl and Sara Van Tongeren introduce a new therapeutic framework that helps people flourish in the midst of suffering by cultivating meaning.
Drawing from scientific research, clinical examples, existential and positive psychology, and their own personal stories of loss and sorrow, Daryl and Sara’s integrative model blends the rich depth of existential clinical approaches with the growth focus of strengths-based approaches.Through cutting edge-research and clinical case examples, they detail five “phases of suffering” and how to work with a client's existential concerns at each phase to develop meaning. They also discuss how current research suggests to build a flourishing life, especially for those who have endured, and are enduring, suffering.
Daryl and Sara show how those afflicted with suffering, while acknowledging the reality of their pain, can still choose to live with hope.
1. An Existential Positive Psychology Framework / 3 2. Existential Themes of Suffering / 19 3. Sunset: The Sting of Suffering / 31 4. Dusk: Into the Darkness / 55 5. Midnight: The Deconstruction Process / 71 6. Dawn: The Reconstruction Process / 87 7. Daylight: Living Authentically / 109 8. A Flourishing Life / 133 Epilogue . 151 Acknowledgments / 155 Notes 157Index / 165 About the Authors / 173
Daryl R. Van Tongeren, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Daryl is a social psychologist and has published over 150 scholarly articles and chapters on topics such as meaning in life, religion, virtues (including forgiveness and humility), relationships, and well-being. His research has been supported by numerous grants from the John Templeton Foundation to explore topics including meaning in life, religion and religious de-identification, and humility, and his research has won national and international awards. He received a 2016 Rising Star designation from the Association for Psychological Science (APS), and he was named a Fellow of the International Society for Science and Religion (ISSR) and a Fellow of the Midwestern Psychological Association (MPA). Currently, he is an associate editor for The Journal of Positive Psychology, and a consulting editor for Psychology of Religion and Spirituality and The Journal of Social Psychology.
Sara A. Showalter Van Tongeren, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker in the states of Michigan and Virginia and is a graduate of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work in Richmond, Virginia. Sara has more than twelve years of clinical social work experience in settings such as private practice, foster care, inpatient hospitals and outpatient Courage medical clinics, interpartner violence shelters, and behavioral health. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). Currently, she owns a private practice in Holland, Michigan, where she works with individuals, couples, families, and children to help them cultivate a sense of meaning and develop narratives of resilience following trauma and unexpected life events. Sara specializes in cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness, existential psychotherapy, narrative therapy, brainspotting, and acceptance commitment therapy.
“[A] timely gift. . . . The Courage to Suffer deserves a place on every therapist’s shelves, in every pastor’s library, and in the hands of every person concerned with cultivating meaning and finding flourishing in the darkness. Here is a book that instills what its title upholds.” —Reformed Journal
“This volume is a treasure chest for individuals, clients, therapists, and anyone who fears addressing their pain and suffering. The authors present a gentle approach to dealing with core issues in every person’s life and give sensitive guidance. The book’s content is impressively authentic; the reader can recognize that the authors know what they are talking about, the suffering, the pain, and the resurrection toward increased flourishing and meaning. But not only that: they also present the reader with a great, practical knowledge of existential interventions—based on various cases which are well chosen—and explain how to apply them and make them usable in therapy or for the self.” —Frontiers in Psychology
“This book is an absolute must read for therapists.” —The Therapist’s Bookshelf
“Daryl and Sara skillfully weave together psychological theory, research findings, clinical wisdom, and their own story to create a powerful and insightful narrative useful to therapists, researchers, and anyone suffering.” —Crystal Park, PhD, professor of psychology, University of Connecticut
“A courageous, poignant, and helpful guide to living bravely through the downs and ups of suffering. Regardless of whether you are a professional counselor, you—and people you care about and seek to help—can benefit from this synthesis of personal life, existential thought, and positive psychology.” —Everett L. Worthington, Jr., PhD, Commonwealth Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University and author of How Do I Forgive?
“If you are facing adversity, this is a must-read book. Daryl and Sara offer a new framework for the important task of helping people flourish and find meaning amidst suffering by developing the courage to engage it.” —Jamie Aten, PhD, Blanchard Chair of Humanitarian Disaster Leadership, Wheaton College, and author of A Walking Disaster
“Guided by a helpful sunset-to-daylight metaphor and enriched by case examples, psychological research and theory, and specific clinical suggestions, this book is a must-have for anyone wanting to engage tough issues about suffering—whether inside or outside a therapy context.” —Julie J. Exline, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences, Case Western Reserve University and coeditor of APA Handbook of Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality