Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Kenneth Logan, PsyD

Second Advisor

Kathleen Gathercoal, PsyD

Third Advisor

Nancy Thurston, PsyD


The purpose of this study is threefold; to address a gap in the literature concerning mechanism of change of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) interventions for burnout, to create an evidence-based burnout intervention for women in ministry, and to propose a theory of burnout etiology and recovery. Participants in this novel 6-week online ACT-based workshop showed significant improvement in burnout, particularly those who endorsed higher pre-intervention burnout. Change in burnout scores was inconsistently mediated by changes in psychological flexibility across dimensions of personal burnout, work burnout, and client burnout as measured on the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory. Findings of this study in context of the burnout literature support the following theory of change for ACT interventions for burnout: ACT interventions increase the theory of mind capacity to differentiate self from others, fostering an interpersonal state of compassion and cognitive perspective taking rather than self-oriented empathy that is associated with burnout. Increase in prayer did not mediate reduction in symptoms, but a shift in prayer approach towards an apophatic style characterized by wordless connection and awareness of God mediated improvement in burnout scores. This finding was used to expand the proposed model of burnout etiology and recovery to include distinction of self in relation to divine and personal values amidst constructed and societal pressures. Apophatic prayer is theorized to improve burnout as the self shaped by experience with God is a more stable construct of self to bring to interaction with others, enabling a healthier empathy/compassion balance and self-other differentiation in interpersonal interactions.