Date of Award
Doctor of Education
Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology
Dr. Thelma Urbick
Dr. Robert M. Brashear
Dr. Joseph R. Morris
The study was done in response to a documented concern in the literature that therapists are unprepared to treat the spiritual concerns of their clients who come from a population in which 95% profess a belief in God.
One objective of the study was to determine the spiritual orientation of licensed psychologists and their attitudes toward religious belief and addressing religious issues in psychotherapy. Other objectives were to determine the amount of help received in addressing these issues during training and supervision and how competent they perceived themselves to be in this regard. Responses of the two license levels, full and limited, were compared. The underlying purpose for the study was to discover if there was evidence for advocating training and education regarding these issues in therapy.
A survey was sent to 10% of all licensed psychologists in Michigan. The return rate was 72% for a total of 202. Results showed that 70% of the total sample claimed a traditional Judeo-Christian spiritual orientation. The concept of religious belief as a neurosis was rejected by 87%. More (48%) agreed than disagreed (32%) that religious belief was relevant to therapy. About equal numbers agreed and disagreed that they felt competent to address religious issues; 15% were uncertain. Nearly 80% claimed they received no help addressing spiritual/religious issues in therapy during their education and supervision. Between license levels, there were no significant differences in attitudes or perceptions despite the differences in gender, age, experience, education, and spiritual/religious orientation.
This was an exploratory study and the problem of validity involved in a study of attitudes in general and religious matters in particular is a signal for cautious interpretation. The results indicate that: (a) There is an interest in the subject (as shown by the 72% response rate), (b) less than a majority of the respondents has a sense of competence in this area, and (c) this problem has not been adequately addressed in the education and training of psychologists. Recommendations include: (a) the need for additional studies with larger sample size and geographical area, (b) studies involving interviews to gather more information and develop validity of terms and issues, and (c) studies of training and education to address this problem.
Brennan, Suzanne Lorenz, "A Study of Licensed Psychologists and the Problem of Addressing Spiritual/Religious Issues in Therapy" (1988). Dissertations. 2188.