School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Kristin Kellen


posttraumatic growth, child sexual abuse, adult survivor of child sexual abuse, religiosity, spiritual beliefs, Evangelical Protestant


Counseling | Psychology


Posttraumatic growth (PTG) is a post-trauma outcome that is extraordinarily complex due to the many subjective aspects and various emerging models regarding the mechanisms leading to it. Studies have led to traditional models of PTG; however, some special populations have limited data regarding factors leading to PTG. Adult survivors of child sexual abuse (CSA) are a distinct population due to the unique sequela emerging from CSA. Religious or spiritual growth is a recognized domain that has been shown to predict PTG; however, no study to date has examined Evangelical Protestant beliefs in relation to PTG among adults with a history of CSA. The experience of CSA creates a complex and multidimensional path to PTG among this unique population. The ambiguous outcomes related to PTG studies among adult survivors of CSA warrant further investigation to advance knowledge regarding clinical treatment and PTG. Therefore, this quantitative research study examined the connection between PTG and Evangelical Protestant (EP) spiritual beliefs among adult survivors of CSA. Data were collected through two sources: (a) an online survey among adult survivors of CSA and (b) interviews with trauma therapists regarding their experiences working with adults that have a history of CSA. The analyses revealed that EP beliefs could aid in attaining PTG among adult survivors of CSA. Therefore, these findings should be considered a reference point for conceptualization and treatment approaches for clinicians in the therapeutic process.