Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology


As professionals in a demanding field, clergy and their spouses face many challenges that have implications for their own health and wellbeing. Maintaining good health is critical for any service provider to be effective in his or her particular role. Numerous studies have affirmed that interpersonal isolation is 1 of the unique challenges clergy and their spouses face. This study examined the experience of interpersonal isolation among a sample of clergy serving in a senior pastor role by having them complete a modified form of the Social Support Questionnaire, Short Form (SSQSR), as well as 6 open-ended interview questions. Data on clergy spouses were not included in the final analysis due to low response rate. The interview responses of clergy participants were compared based on a median split of the SSQRS satisfaction scores. Analysis of clergy responses revealed several prominent themes in the following areas: barriers to establishing supportive relationships, strategies to establishing and maintaining supportive relationships, lack of support, and coping with loneliness. Identified themes as well as clergy responses which exemplified these themes are discussed. Pastors with S scores at or above the median more frequently indicated that being transparent and vulnerable is a means by which they establish and maintain close, supportive relationships with others.

Included in

Psychology Commons