Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. John Geisler

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Brashear

Third Advisor

Dr. Alan Hovestadt


With the plethora of definitions for and the vague and confused understanding of self-esteem/worth/image/love/value, the mental health professional is hard-pressed to define it accurately. To the Christian therapist, an area of concern is a Christian versus secular definition.

This study explored this issue in two ways. First, it addressed two hypotheses: (1) Is there a Biblical definition of self-esteem/worth?; (2) Does the Shepherd Scale (Bassett, 1981), an established measure of levels of Christianity, adequately assess self-esteem and Biblical self-esteem? These hypotheses are answered through a search of current literature and correlational analysis.

The second part of the study tested two hypotheses concerning the relationship of Biblical self-esteem to psychopathology. First, to establish whether the Shepherd Scale correlates with established measures of self-esteem, this hypothesis was tested: the Shepherd Scale correlates positively with the Short Index of Self-Actualization (SISA) (Jones & Crandall, 1986), negatively with the intrinsic factor of the Religious Orientation Scale (ROS) (Robinson & Shaver, 1973) and the Low Self-Esteem (LSE) scale of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2) (Hathaway & McKinley, 1989). Second, the MMPI-2 Clinical and Content scales correlate negatively with the Shepherd Scale (Belief and Walk components), SISA, and positively with the ROS (Intrinsic) and the MMPI-2 LSE scale.

To test these hypotheses, 106 members from four religious denominations volunteered and were each administered the Shepherd Scale, SISA, ROS and the MMPI-2. Demographic data were also collected. A Pearson’s coefficient was computed for all correlations. Statistically significant positive correlations of above .1946 or below -.1946 were established as the criteria for positive and negative correlations, respectively. To test the difference between low, medium and high psychopathology groups, an ANOVA was computed.

The first part of the theoretical study indicated that there is a Biblical definition of self-esteem and the Shepherd Scale measures this adequately. Empirical results indicated that there was moderate support of the Shepherd Scale as a measure of self-esteem. High levels of Christianity revealed no relationship with psychopathology as measured by the MMPI-2. However, the data suggested that intrinsicness and high self-actualization is not related to psychopathology.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Counseling Commons