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How does training in an explicitly Christian doctoral program in clinical psychology affect students' faith development? Two studies are reported that consider students' locus of control, spiritual perceptions, and religious behaviors over the course of training. The first study involved 157 students from 5 doctoral programs who completed questionnaires at the beginning and end of an academic year. A number of changes were reported from the beginning to the end of the year, including increased internal locus of control, decreased awareness of God. decreased church attendance, and decreased ratings on the importance of religion. A number of differences between cohorts were also observed, with flrst-year students affirming more spiritual attributions, religious problem-solving, and religious behaviors than students in other cohorts. The second study included 140 first- and second-year students from 4 doctoral programs. Changes were reported over the academic year, including increased disappointment with God and fatigue, and decreased church attendance, personal prayer, and importance of religion. No differences between first and second-year students were observed. Various possible explanations are offered for these findings, including eroding of faith, enhanced self-efficacy, rearraging faith, and fatigue.


Originally published in the Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 32, 279-290.

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