Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Mark McMinn, PhD

Second Advisor

Kathleen Gathercoal, PhD

Third Advisor

Nancy Thurston, PsyD


Positive psychology has yielded rich insights about the nature of forgiveness and gratitude, but it is just beginning to broach the topic of grace. Theoretical evidence suggests grace is a crucial therapeutic factor in helping patients overcome shame, but empirical evidence is wanting. Because of the central role grace plays in Christianity, a qualitative exploration was conducted with a sample of participants identifying as either lesbian, gay, or bisexual, as well as Christian. Transcripts from 26 semi-structured interviews were coded and analyzed. Participants reported that their experiences of Divine Grace were related to their views about God’s nature. They reported that their experiences of grace had a transforming impact on their lives, and that they still sometimes doubted themselves and their beliefs. They reported regular participation in spiritual disciplines and were able to integrate their present experiences of God with their faith development. Such findings have important implications for clinical work with LGBTQ Christian patients and provide material to create a theory of divine grace to be studied quantitatively.