Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology


Adolescent Residential Treatment Staff have a difficult job. Working with emotionally and behaviorally disturbed youth whose behavior precludes living with family members or in foster care requires intense amounts of empathy. Research indicates that the stress residential treatment staff feel is due to the many facets of their jobs including being counselors and subjected to vicarious traumatization, being supportive guides and enduring compassion fatigue, being parental figures and providing structure and support, etc. This stress can reduce the effectiveness of treatment that is provided to the adolescent residents in these facilities. Stress management and relief have been studied with various interventions, including the use of religious or spiritual practices. This study explored the degree to which religious or spiritual practices affected the perceived level of stress that residential treatment staff experience. Residential treatment staff from a rural Adolescent Residential Treatment facility completed a demographic questionnaire, The Maslach Burnout Inventory, the Spiritual Well-Being Scale, and a scale designed to measure religious/spiritual practices. Forty-five participants from a rural Adolescent Residential Treatment facility returned completed surveys. Staff members consisted of 23 males and 22 females; 34 were Caucasian, 6 African American, 5 Hispanic; 64% were Christian, 26% were Buddhist. On the Maslach, 99% of the staff identified with moderate to low Personal Accomplishment, 67% felt moderate to high Depersonalization, and 89% felt moderate to high Emotional Exhaustion. Their scores indicated greater burnout than the Health Service Professionals in Maslach's data. The results from the Spiritual Well-being scales also indicate that sub-clinical scores in both existential and religious wellbeing. Results indicated that the Spiritual Well-being Scale and the Maslach Burnout Inventory - HSS were most strongly correlated among the variables investigated. Although causal conclusions are not warranted, results indicated that existential and religious well-being were inversely related to emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, and positively related to a sense of personal accomplishment as measured by the Maslach. All of these results suggest prevention techniques in the following areas: foster existential and religious well-being, decrease stress, increase the use of personal mental health treatment, increase social supp01i, and increase income.

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