‘What Would Jesus Do?’: Toward a Grounded Theory of Born-Again Christians’ Process of Sanctification and Therapeutic Implications

Prof Doc Thesis

Darley, E. 2021. ‘What Would Jesus Do?’: Toward a Grounded Theory of Born-Again Christians’ Process of Sanctification and Therapeutic Implications. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.89940
AuthorsDarley, E.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Background: Integrating religious perspectives into psychological therapies is increasingly recommended by regulatory bodies (NICE, BPS, APA). However, there are no core competencies for clinicians working with a religious population such that for many therapists, faith (religious or spiritual), is treated as one aggregate psychological domain, if at all. This lack of nuance results in spiritually avoidant care, misaligned treatment goals between therapist and client, and poor therapeutic outcomes. Nowhere more so than with Christian clients who, due to the recent and rapid growth of ‘born-again’ Independent Protestantism, have largely evaded psychological inquiry. To address these shortcomings, a nuanced understanding of their self-concept and therapeutic implications are investigated.
Methods: A Glaserian Grounded Theory on nine participants was performed.
Results: The dominant reason born-again clients have poor agreement with therapeutic treatment is that their theory of sanctification conflicts with psychological theories of transformation. Their true-self, created by God, is discoverable only in relationship to Jesus and becoming like him through self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-surrender.
This sanctification process constitutes Christ-actualisation, with implications for psychotherapy centring around how their true-self is understood. This include Christians’ distrust of emotions, specific types of cognitive restructuring, and spiritual aetiology of distress and fears around opening-up to any authority other than Jesus.
Conclusions: A redefinition of being ‘Christian’ is needed as being in relationship. The nature of this relationship can be ascertained in assessment, formulation and treatment plan. Several models are provided to help the Psychologist decide upon an appropriate therapeutic
modality, to aid formulation and frame a nuanced engagement with emotions and cognitions, and to help ascertain treatment goals in alignments with sanctification.

KeywordsTransformation; Christian; Born-again; Religion; Spirituality; Jesus; Psychotherapy
PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.89940
File Access Level
Publication dates
Online20 Jul 2021
Publication process dates
Submitted18 Jan 2021
Deposited20 Jul 2021
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