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Recent research on clergy-psychologist collaboration has resulted in helpful principles for clergy and psychologists working together, but very little is known about what specific characteristics in clergy are appealing to psychologists and vice versa. Two experimental survey studies are reported, both exploring characteristics that enhance or hinder collaboration. In Study 1, Southern Baptist pastors rated the likelihood of referring to a counselor who was identified as either a Biblical Counselor or a Christian Psychologist, and was identified as either being excellent in interpersonal skills or as using scripture and prayer in counseling. Pastors demonstrated a preference for counselors using scripture and prayer in counseling over those described as having excellent interpersonal skills. In Study 2, psychologist respondents rated the likelihood of referring to a clergyperson who was identified either as a Baptist or a Unitarian universalist, and was identified either as seminary trained or as having a doctoral degree from a prestigious divinity school. Psychologists demonstrated a preference for those with a doctoral degree. The weak effect sizes and comments offered on the surveys suggest that the individual relationship between clergy and psychologist is much more salient than particular demographic characteristics when considering the possibility of collaboration.


Originally published in the Journal of Psychology and Theology, 33, 299-309.

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