Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Best Practices in Couple and Family Therapy Spiritual Diversity Education: Experts' Beliefs, Experiences, and Recommendations
by Thickens, Theresa Quinlan, Psy.D., Alliant International University, 2012, 250; 3518489
Abstract (Summary)

It is now well established that spiritual beliefs correlate positively with mental health and may play an important role in diagnosis, treatment, and overall clinical efficacy. Despite this evidence, spiritual training in mental health is often underdeveloped, ineffective, and biased. Specifically, within the profession of Marriage and Family Therapy (or Couple and Family Therapy, CFT), a significant discrepancy exists between that which educators report they teach and that which students report they feel prepared to practice once completing their training. This Constructivist grounded theory study investigated the research question: What practices in CFT education promote spiritual diversity competency? Interviews were conducted with ten family therapy experts including: Harry Aponte, Thomas Carlson, Craig Cashwell, William Doherty, Martin Erickson, Carmen Knudson-Martin, Jill Duba, Richard Schwartz, Froma Walsh, and one anonymous participant. Data revealed a number of interactions emphasizing the need to broaden training and therapeutic dialog from asking close-ended questions about how one identifies spiritually, to delving beneath socially constructed labels in an exploration of the way all people use spiritual beliefs to make meaning of life. The findings suggested effective spiritual diversity education should include careful consideration of (a) the ethics of providing spiritually infused curriculum and spiritually sensitive care; (b) the influence of power and privilege in shaping the views and actions of professional leaders, academic administrators, educators, students, and clinicians; (c) the need for balance between didactic content training and experiential process training; (d) the need for more research to adequately inform the curriculum; (e) the role of developmental factors affecting student and educator involvement in training; (f) the function of self-awareness in creating competency; (g) the role of safety in facilitating experiential training; and (h) the role of isomorphic processes in promoting competency. Taken with the extant literature, these findings suggested that it is ethically essential to integrate thoughtful and thorough spiritual diversity curriculum in all CFT training programs. A grounded theory, incorporating developmental, isomorphic, and intra-psychic processes is presented. The findings are integrated with the extant literature and implications for training, clinical practice, and future research are discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Osborn, Janet L.
Commitee: Glebova, Tatiana, McInnes Miller, Marianne M.
School: Alliant International University
Department: Sacramento, CSPP
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 73/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Mental health, Counseling Psychology, Spirituality
Keywords: Couples therapy, Family therapy, Spirituality, Therapy, Training
Publication Number: 3518489
ISBN: 9781267498878
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