Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Religious leaders-Attitudes, Christian leadership, Psychology and religion, Mentally ill-Counseling of, Substance abuse-Patients-Counseling of, Christian leaders, Mental health, Spirituality, Substance use, Addiction, Mentally ill-Pastoral counseling of, Substance abuse-Patients-Pastoral counseling of


This exploratory study was undertaken to determine the attitudes of leaders in Christian churches toward problems with mental health or substance abuse issues. As beliefs about causation of these problems may directly impact types of help offered to those suffering, leaders were also asked to identify particular types of treatment they recommended. This study was conducted in two parts. The first part involved a snowball sampling of known associates of the researcher who were asked for their help to enroll volunteers for an online survey. The survey asked about: how many and for what purpose the leaders met with congregants; the interventions they often recommend for those seeking help with emotional issues or problems with addictions or addictive type tendencies; and what, if any, trainings they had participated in regarding church leadership or mental health treatment. A total of 43 individuals completed the survey. The second part of the study involved phone or in person interviews with four individuals who had completed the survey and agreed to answer follow up questions. Most questions in the interview focused on leaders' understandings of the causes of mental health and addiction issues. The findings showed that, of the leaders surveyed, most would encourage congregants to seek help in addition to that of their spiritual leaders' counsel and prayer if suffering from mental health problems or addictions. Leaders also showed empathy for those suffering from these problems, as well as humility about their own abilities to deal with such complex issues on their own.




v, 64 p. : col. ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 41-43)