W&J professor receives grant from BYU for gestalt pastoral therapy study

Created: January 2, 2018
Last Updated: July 17, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (Jan. 2, 2018)— Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) Professor of Psychology Michael Crabtree, Ph.D., received a grant through Brigham Young University (BYU) funded by the John Templeton Foundation to complete a research project in the coming year.

The grant will fund Dr. Crabtree’s study entitled “Grace Examined: Evaluating Gestalt Pastoral Care Spiritually Integrated Strategies for Clinical Effectiveness,” and take a look at therapy that brings religious themes to the gestalt process, during which patients are encouraged to experience past situations, at times through re-enactment, rather than just speaking about them.

The study is one of several research projects examining spiritually-informed therapies being funded through the BYU project. Dr. Crabtree will be the principal investigator for the study and Assistant Professor of Psychology Benjamin Seltzer, Ph.D., will also be a member of the research team, among other professionals.

“There’s a division in our culture where people are willing at times to speak up about being informed by religious values, but also separate those values from a person in times when they could be most useful,” Dr. Crabtree said. “BYU sees that therapists are not immediately bringing in religion out of respect for their clients, but wants to collect data to see how beneficial spiritual therapy would be.”

Utilizing a practice-based research design, the study will evaluate just how effective the integration of spiritual elements are with mental health care used by 10 practitioners with approximately 500 clients from Jan. 12, 2018 through Feb. 28, 2019.

“We look forward to beginning our data collection in January,” Dr. Crabtree said. “We hope our research can bring some positive changes in the mental health field.”

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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