2015 Div. 36 Student Research Award Winners' Proposals

Patients' experience of spirituality and change in individual psychotherapy at a Christian counseling clinic: A grounded theory analysis

How can the mechanics of spirituality reduce psychological symptoms and increase overall wellness for psychotherapy patients?

By Elena Kim

The goal of this study is to understand how the mechanics of spirituality can reduce psychological symptoms and increase overall wellness for individuals receiving psychotherapy. Therapists at a Christian clinic identified patients who had a significant spiritual experience that helped mitigate symptoms and/or improve their wellness. For the patients that agreed to participate, we conducted a qualitative interview to understand their presenting problem, their symptoms and how their experiences with God (or the sacred) mitigated their symptoms and brought a greater sense of contentment and wholeness into their lives. Themes that have emerged thus far include change in God images, experiences of love/acceptance from both God and religious communities, self-forgiveness due to a closer relationship with God, a sense of self-worth due to a closer relationship with God, self-acceptance, mitigation of symptoms, healthier relationships and overall healthier well-being.

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