psychotherapy, spirituality, practice, evidence, religion


Various approaches for incorporating spirituality into psychotherapy have been devel- oped, but few have been submitted to empirical scrutiny. The present article reports the results of a practice-based evidence (PBE) study, and demonstrates the value of PBE as a research strategy for the empirical evaluation of spiritually oriented psychothera- pies (SOPs). This approach involves examining the effectiveness of SOPs in routine settings, providing more externally valid results than randomized controlled trials. Outcome and process data for 304 clients at a private, religious, university counseling center were examined using a PBE methodology. Clinicians integrated a wide variety of spiritual interventions with various secular treatments. The therapist, low initial spiritual distress, and client desire to discuss spirituality in session predicted the frequency with which spiritual interventions were used. The results of multiple hier- archical linear models suggested that clients improved substantially in multiple do- mains of functioning. The frequency of use of spiritual interventions was not a significant predictor of differential growth trajectories for clients. This study provides an example of how PBE can be used to explore and evaluate the effectiveness of the types of spiritual interventions practitioners employ in their practices.

Original Publication Citation

Sanders, P. W., Richards, P. S., McBride, J. A., Lea, T., Hardman, R. K., Barnes, D. V. (2015). Processes and outcomes of theistic spiritually oriented psychotherapy: A practice-based evidence investigation. Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 2 (3), 180-190.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Spirituality in Clinical Practice




David O. McKay School of Education


Counseling Psychology and Special Education

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor