School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Stephen Ford


prayer, self-care, coping, religion, counseling




Among the many helping professions, counselors often have a high risk of stress and burnout. Therefore, it is important that counselors understand the types of coping strategies that can help manage stress and self-care, including religion and prayer. The works of Carl Jung, William James, and Poloma and Pendleton present the importance of religion and religious activities, including prayer. In addition, the literature reviewed indicates that religion and religious activities, including prayer, can be a positive aspect in the lives of others to combat emotional and physical issues. This includes colloquial and meditative prayers. However, a gap in the research is the use of colloquial prayer for counselors in nonreligious settings. To address this, a qualitative phenomenological study was conducted to understand the lived experiences of counselors who engage in colloquial prayer in nonreligious settings. This study included 10 counselors who are employed at Centerstone, a nonprofit community mental health organization in middle Tennessee. Semistructured interviews were conducted to help gain a greater understanding of the experiences of counselors who engage in colloquial prayer. Data analysis provided three themes: social connection, clinical benefits, and God’s control. Participants felt that colloquial prayer allowed them to feel closer to God and others, including their clients, which allowed them to feel more peace, confidence, and growth through trusting God’s control. Implications of this study included nonreligious mental health organizations placing more emphasis on spiritual and religious activities for counselors, including prayer for self-care and incorporating religious and spiritual issues/activities in counselor education.

Included in

Counseling Commons