Religion is important to many Americans and the way they approach life, but psychologists are less likely than the general population to be religious. Because of this, it is important to not only know how religious commitment can influence clients' outcome and experience in psychotherapy, but also how the level of match between client and therapist religious commitment might impact those variables. The current study was undertaken in order to investigate how client religious commitment impacts distress at the beginning and end of treatment, how therapist religious commitment impacts the use of religious/spiritual interventions in therapy, and whether the level of match between client and therapist religious commitment predicts client perception of therapy and/or outcome. Seven hundred and thirty individual therapy clients at a university counseling center completed measures of religious commitment, symptom distress, and concerns about therapy throughout their course of treatment. Forty-four therapists also completed a measure of religious commitment in addition to session-by-session checklists detailing what types of interventions they used in each appointment with participating clients. Client religious commitment was found to significantly predict lower initial distress (B = -0.77, p < 0.001, R2 = 0.07, 95% CI [-0.97, -0.57]) and lower distress at the end of therapy(B = -0.32, p = 0.001, R2 = 0.34, 95% CI [-0.51, -0.14]), and fewer concerns about therapy predicted better outcomes (B = 2.04, p < 0.001, R2 = 0.38, 95% CI [1.52, 2.52]). Contrary to the findings of previous research, therapist religious commitment did not predict use of religious/spiritual interventions in therapy (B = 0.05, p = 0.062, R2 = 0.09, 95% CI [-0.002, 0.11]). Finally, level of match between client and therapist religious commitment was not related to client concerns about therapy (B = -0.002, p = 0.161, 95% CI [-2.40, 9.57]) or client outcomes B = -0.014, p = 0.120, 95% CI [-0.03, 0.004]). Possible explanations and influencing factors are put forth and the findings are discussed in the context of a highly religious population.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology



Date Submitted


Document Type





Psychotherapy, religiosity, religious commitment, therapy outcome, therapist factors, therapist-client matching