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Journal file.

This section of the Journal attempts to keep readers informed of current resources of an integrative nature or those related to the general field of the psychology of religion appearing in other professional journals. A wide range of psychological and theological journals are surveyed regularly in search of such resources. The editor of the Journal File welcomes correspondence from readers concerning relevant theoretical or research articles in domestic or foreign journals which contribute directly or indirectly to the task and process of integration and to an understanding of the psychology of religion.


Ellis, A. (2000)

Can rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) be effectively used with people who have devout beliefs in God and religion?

Vol. 31 (1), 29-33

In this article Albert Ellis describes the constructive philosophies of REBT and shows how they are similar to those of many religionists in regard to: unconditional self-acceptance, high frustration tolerance, unconditional acceptance of others, the desire rather than need for achievement and approval, and other mental health goals. He shows how REBT is compatible with some important religious views and can be used effectively with many clients who have absolutistic beliefs about God and religion.

Several writers on religion and psychotherapy claim that people who see God as a partner who helps them resolve their problems are less emotionally disturbed and can benefit more from rational systems of therapy than religionists who have a more negative view of God. When one looks closely, there tends to be certain paradigms of religious expression that seem to be helpful (the loving God model) and others that seem to be harmful (the-sinner-in-the-hands-of-an-angry-God model). Those believers with the latter belief of God feel anger at God, believe they are being punished for sins, and perceive a lack of emotional support from their church or synagogue. Therefore they typically suffer with more distress, anxiety, and depression. Those believers with a loving God model experience God as a partner in their life, view difficult situations as opportunities for spiritual growth, and believe that their religious leaders and fellow congregation members give them the support they need. Hence they enjoy more positive mental health outcomes.

In this article, Ellis attempts to restate some of the basic REBT philosophies in God-oriented form; so that people who tend to follow the teachings of REBT can presumably also hold absolutistic religious views that overlap with their religious concepts. One example from the appendix shows how the author restates an REBT philosophy of self-control stated:
Because I often make myself undisciplined and self-defeating by
demanding that I absolutely must have immediate gratifications, I can
give up my short-range needs, look for the pleasure of today and
tomorrow, and seek out life satisfactions in a disciplined way.

Ellis restates this belief in a comparable religious way: "God gave me some degree of free will and the ability to think for myself and control myself, and I can, with God's help, use this ability to discipline myself."

Ellis' contention is, therefore, that anyone who holds a loving God religious outlook can also be "rational" by REBT's definition: having self-helping beliefs, feelings, and behaviors. In this sense, REBT and devout religiosity are not the same, but they can at least at times be compatible.


Aten, J. D., & Hernandez, B. C. (2004).

Addressing religion in clinical supervision: A model

Vol. 41 (2), 152-160

Despite the increased interest in and acceptance of religion by many psychologists and the American Psychological Association, it still appears that very few supervisees receive the proper training and supervision necessary to competently address religion in therapy. Many religious clients prefer therapy that in some way includes their belief system. The vast majority of these clients also believe that religious values, practices, and themes should be addressed in therapy. Furthermore, researchers have documented the positive effects and therapeutic benefits that these religious and spiritual interventions can have on client mental health and physical health. Likewise, religiously committed clients view clinicians who integrate religion into therapy more optimistically and as more competent than clinicians who do not.

In this article, Aten and Hernandez identify supervisor actions that promote supervisee competence in this area via eight domains from C. D. Stoltenberg, with U. Delworth's (1987) integrative developmental model (IDM) as a template. The eight domains of IDM are: intervention skills, assessment approaches and techniques, individual and cultural differences, interpersonal assessment, theoretical orientation, problem conceptualization, selecting treatment goals and plans, and professional ethics.

Aten and Hernandez then propose a set of conceptual guidelines for developing supervisee competence in regard to working with religious clients and issues, along with examples of supervisor or therapist actions for each domain. Guidelines such as supervisors should aid supervisees in differentiating between themselves and religious clients in terms of countertransference issues that stem from religious beliefs and issues in therapy. The authors also emphasize the concept of parallel process in supervision. Parallel process predicts that a supervisor's manner of interactions with his or her supervisee will influence the way the supervisee will in turn interact with his or her clients. Therefore as supervisors inquire about their supervisees' beliefs and seek to understand their thoughts about religion or life philosophy; they should note similarities and differences between their systems of thought, thereby modeling for the supervisee how to complete this task appropriately. The result of such efforts: The supervisee then has an internal working model of religious differentiation. Several other supervisory guidelines are discussed in the article.


O'Connor, S. & Vandenberg, B. (2005).

Psychosis or faith? Clinicians' assessment of religious beliefs

Vol. 73 (4), 610-616

The accurate assessment of clients' beliefs is of utmost importance for diagnosis, treatment planning, research investigation, and professional responsibility. Assessment typically is guided by the recommendations of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (IV-TR), which generally assumes that mental disorders are akin to medical illnesses. In recent years, however, the growing diversity of the U.S. population, as well as conceptual issues raised by intercultural research, have increased clinicians' awareness of the need to consider cultural factors when assessing clients. Despite this recent change, the issue of how to conceptualize the role of culture in assessing behavior and beliefs remains controversial.

In this empirical study, O'Connor and Vandenberg investigated mental health professionals' assessment of the pathognomonic significance of religious beliefs. The study addressed three hypotheses. First, it was hypothesized that more mainstream religious beliefs would be considered less pathological than beliefs of less mainstream religions. Secondly, the researchers hypothesized that religious beliefs would be considered less pathological when identified as articles of religious faith than when not identified as such. They expected that labeling these beliefs as religious would alert clinicians that the beliefs were integral to an established religious tradition and that clinicians, in keeping with the DSM-IV recommendations, would exempt them from pathological significance. The third hypothesis stated that when the consequences of religious ideation involve high levels of threat to harm another, the beliefs would be rated as more pathological than when there was no threat.

A total of 110 mental health professionals reviewed three vignettes depicting individuals possessing the religious beliefs associated with Catholicism, Mormonism, and Islam. Participants were then asked to complete a measure of pathology, consisting of three items, for the individual depicted in each vignette. The three items were derived from DSM-IV diagnostic terms related to beliefs: delusionality, psychosis, and bizarre delusionality.

The religious beliefs of the individuals were identified in the vignette as: either being integral to a religious tradition or not, and also as either resulting in a threat to harm another person or not. Identifying beliefs as religious resulted in statistically significant lower ratings of pathology for Catholicism and Mormonism compared to Islam; and beliefs that did not involve a threat to harm also were rated lower for pathology for the same 2 religions. All three hypotheses were supported. The authors conclude that the results reveal a disjuncture between recommendations of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and clinicians' judgments, because clinicians' assessment of the pathognomonic significance of religious ideation is complex and not always in harmony with DSM-IV recommendations.


Steger, M. F., & Frazier, P. (2005).

Meaning in life: One link in the chain from religiousness to well-being

Vol. 52 (4), 574-582

Recently, there have been many reviews examining the relations among religiousness, mental health, and physical health. The emerging consensus is that the link between religion and well-being is consistent and positive and that the next step is to establish why this link exists. Steger and Frazier considered factors that may mediate this relational link. In the literature, meaning in life has been identified as a potential mediator of the link between religiousness and psychological health. The authors wanted to understand why and how religion contributes to well-being. One function of religion is to provide individuals with the means through which they can experience purpose in their lives. One of the core benefits of religious experience might be the extent to which religion gives people a sense of meaning and coherence about ultimate truths. Thus, religion appears likely to provide the opportunity for people to discover purpose or meaning in their lives.

Steger and Frazier tested this hypothesis in two studies, using multiple methods and measures of religiousness and well-being. They recruited 512 participants to complete self-report questionnaires assessing religiousness, meaning in life, and life satisfaction which latter got separated into self-esteem and optimism. The researchers used multiple regression to assess mediation after required conditions for mediation were first established.

In the studies, meaning in life did mediate the relation between religiousness and life satisfaction (Study 1A), as well as self-esteem and optimism (Study 1B). In addition, using an experience sampling method (2-week daily diary), the authors found that meaning in life also mediated the relation between daily religious behaviors and well-being (Study 2). The authors discuss these findings and suggest that meaning in life may be a means for therapists and clients to discuss matters of ultimate importance without necessarily touching on different perspectives of religion; or alternatively, meaning in life may provide a common framework for addressing some religious concerns in therapy. The implications of this study suggest that counselors may wish to consider designing interventions to help clients find meaning in their lives, particularly if their clients are nonreligious or are experiencing crises of religious doubt.


Alarcon, R. D. (1995). Culture and psychiatric diagnosis: Impact of DSM-IV and ICD-10. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 18, 449-465.

Baron, R. M. & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173-1182.

Bergin, A. E. & Jensen, J. P. (1990). Religiosity of psychotherapies: A national survey. Psychotherapy, 27, 3-7.

Carlson, T. D., Kirkpatrick, D., Hacker, L., & Killmer, M. (2002). Religion, spirituality, and marriage and family therapy: A study of family therapists' beliefs about the appropriateness of addressing religious and spiritual issues in therapy. American Journal of Family Therapy, 30, 157-171.

Duriez, B. (2003). Religiosity and conservatism revisited: Relating a new religiosity measure to the two main conservative political ideologies. Psychological Reports, 92, 533-539.
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Title Annotation:listings of psychological and theological journals
Publication:Journal of Psychology and Theology
Article Type:Bibliography
Date:Mar 22, 2006
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