Krista KirkFollow




School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD)


Fred Volk


Mental Health Professional, Mental Illness, Mental Illness Stigma, Pornography, Problematic Pornography, Religious Advisor


Counseling | Counselor Education | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Some individuals, who subscribe to religious beliefs, often prefer to seek help from religious advisors when addressing mental health issues rather than seek help from mental health professionals. Although these religious advisors do not believe they have received adequate training to support individuals with these issues, they will still attempt to counsel them without the help of mental health professionals. One particular issue both types of practitioner face is the increase of the addictive qualities associated with problematic pornography use. The representation of the addictive qualities in problematic pornography use is a widespread concern, especially in religious communities, and mental health professionals report an increase in cases of problematic unwanted sexual behavior including pornography use. Simultaneously, some religious communities not only identify mental health as a diabolical issue, but for those who approach religious advisors for help with problematic pornography use, little is known in how this mental illness stigma might influence assessment and subsequent treatment of the congregant. This study examined the relationship between mental illness stigma and religious advisors’ propensity to refer congregants to mental health professionals when mediated by diabolical attribution. This study also examined the moderation of the mediated model by the perceived level of threat in a comorbid mental disorder. It was hypothesized that religious advisors’ stigma would predict whether referrals would be made through diabolical attribution of mental illness and that a level of threat in a disorder would then change these relationships. The results suggested no relationship between religious advisors’ mental illness stigma and their propensity to refer congregants to a mental health professional; diabolical attribution of mental illness associated with PPU also did not mediate the relationships. However, the results suggested a diabolical attribution predicted the likelihood that a religious advisor would refer to a mental health professional. Additionally, specifically in the vignettes that reflected psychosis, there was a lower diabolical attribution than in the depression and anxiety vignettes, and the likelihood of referral was higher in the vignettes that reflected psychosis than in the depression and anxiety vignettes. Implications, limitations, and ideas for future research are discussed.