Religious internalization, church-based social support, and religious copin g in adult Christians

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Chaison, Angelic Denise, 1977-

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Research has shown that religious coping is one of the strongest predictors of psychological adjustment and event-related outcomes to stressful situations among religious individuals. However, little is known about what prompts a person to engage in various coping strategies during stressful situations. This dissertation project aims to increase the understanding of different facets of religious life that may contribute to and influence the coping process. To understand better how intrapersonal and interpersonal aspects of one’s faith predict the coping behaviors he or she uses, this study examined the relationships of religious internalization and church-based social support with both religious and nonreligious coping. In the first phase of the project, 206 adult Christians responded to quantitative questionnaires about religious internalization, church-based social support, and coping. In the second phase, interviews were conducted with 10 individuals who completed the quantitative questionnaires in phase 1. Generally, it was hypothesized that (1) identified vs. introjected religious internalization and (2) church-based social support would predict religious and nonreligious coping among religious individuals. As expected, identified and introjected religious internalization styles were predictive of positive and negative religious coping, respectively. Identified religious internalization also predicted restraint coping (an aspect of nonreligious problem-focused coping) as expected; however, it failed to predict planning coping (an aspect of nonreligious problem-focused coping). Spiritual support predicted positive religious coping as expected; however it failed to predict restraint and planning coping. Contrary to predictions, emotional support from members of one’s congregation and emotional support from one’s pastor did not predict focus on and venting of emotions. Implications are discussed. It is hoped that the findings will provide insights that clinicians, counselors, and religious leaders will find valuable in assessing the needs and strengths of religious individuals and in fostering their care and growth.