Outcome effects of receiving a spiritually informed vs. a standard cognitive-behavioral stress management workshop

Robert William Nohr, Marquette University


Fifty-nine undergraduates participated in one of two four-session, six-hour cognitive-behavioral stress management workshops. One workshop (CBT) used standard cognitive-behavioral techniques such as rational thought-countering and guided imagery, while the other workshop (SCBT) added suggestions and illustrations as to how participants could incorporate their own spirituality into the stress management process. Unique features of the study included the recruitment of participants with a wide variety of spiritual orientation and the use of an implicit spiritual orientation that was not identified with any one religion. Results indicated that participants in both treatment conditions demonstrated statistically significant improvement on the Symptom Checklist-90-R, while a control group did not. Participants in the SCBT condition showed a trend towards greater maintenance of their well-being status, compared to participants in the CBT condition. Only participants in the SCBT condition showed significantly greater improvement in spiritual well-being than the control group on measures of spiritual well-being, providing some evidence of differential treatment effects between a spiritually-informed and a standard treatment on spiritual well-being. Participants in both conditions who more highly valued spirituality showed greater use of spiritual techniques, greater use of existential realizations, and greater increases in spiritual well-being than did participants who did not highly value spirituality, providing evidence that certain types of clients are more likely to incorporate spiritual growth into a psychotherapeutic process, regardless of whether or not they are encouraged to do so by the therapist. Participants who more highly valued spirituality showed a stronger therapeutic bond with the therapist in the SCBT condition than did similar participants in the CBT condition, suggesting one possible mechanism by which spiritually-informed treatments lead to superior results with highly religious clients. There was no evidence of a negative effect of introducing spirituality in this implicit fashion for any participants, in that those who did not highly value spirituality showed a similar therapeutic bond across both treatment conditions, and showed equivalent symptom reduction in the SCBT condition as in the CBT condition. Implications for the practice of psychotherapy and future directions for research into psychospiritual interventions are discussed.

Recommended Citation

Nohr, Robert William, "Outcome effects of receiving a spiritually informed vs. a standard cognitive-behavioral stress management workshop" (2000). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9977718.