psychotherapy, religion, spirituality


This study investigated whether 49 Mormon psychotherapy clients and 51 Mormon nonclients differed on a number of religious and psychological variables. The data were analyzed using analysis of covariance, controlling for social desirability, education level, and occupation status. Clients scored higher than nonclients on shame and lower on existential well-being. There were no significant differences between clients and nonclients on religious orientation, religious wellbeing, moral reasoning, and guilt. Females scored much higher on guilt, and female clients scored much higher on shame; there were no other gender differences. Subjects showed a preference for Stage 4 moral reasoning, and 92% were intrinsically motivated in their religious worship. The psychotherapy clients' religious beliefs and motivations appeared healthy and functional and could be an asset during therapy. The clients manifested some psychological issues which could predispose them to unhealthy reactions to some of the doctrines and influences of their religion. The gender differences observed were also discussed.

Original Publication Citation

Richards, P.S., Smith, S.A., & Davis, L.F. (1989). Healthy and unhealthy forms of religiousness manifested by psychotherapy clients: An empirical investigation. Journal of Research in Personality, 23, 506-524.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of Research in Personality




David O. McKay School of Education


Counseling Psychology and Special Education

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor