skip to main content

Elena Kim on Integrating Spirituality into Psychotherapy


Counseling Psychology doctoral student Elena Kim was awarded a grant to study spirituality integrated psychotherapy by the John Templeton Foundation in partnership with Brigham Young University. GSE professor Eric Chen, Ph.D., and Yale University professor Judy Cha, Ph.D., will work with Elena on the project.

What is the topic and/or guiding question of your dissertation study?
The title of my study is “Empirical Validation of a Spiritually-Integrated Psychotherapy Framework: A Task Analysis.”

We are trying to identify important, spiritual events in psychotherapy that can help patients in the healing process. The result would be either a decrease in symptoms or increase in positive psychological functioning.

The two types of spiritual events that we’re looking for is what the Templeton Foundation has labeled, “repentance” and “faith.” However, in more secular psychology terms, I would label it “readiness” and “hope.”

What do you hope to learn from the study?
We hope to successfully identify key spiritual events and create a detailed map to measure these events. If we are able to identify and measure these events, we can conduct future studies that link these events to psychotherapy outcomes.

What got you interested in this topic?
The integration of spirituality and mental health has been an interest of mine even before I began my program at Fordham. I’ve been fortunate to have Eric Chen as my adviser in the counseling psychology program. He has been very supportive of my research pursuits, and also extremely knowledgeable and experienced in the research methodologies necessary for this study.

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about the project?
Yes, this study is part of a much larger movement started by the John Templeton Foundation. The foundation is hoping to take advantage of the recent interest that the field of psychology has in spirituality.

They hope that collaborative results from this study will provide empirically validated results so that healthcare policies in the future will include spiritually-integrated psychotherapy as a viable form of treatment.


Leave A Reply