The Consortium for Spiritually Integrated Psychology and Education housed within the David O. McKay School of Education at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, is pleased to announce a three-year research project, Enhancing Practice-Based Evidence for Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapies: An Interdisciplinary Big Data Project, supported with funding from the John Templeton Foundation. The project is a research initiative dedicated to creating an international, interdisciplinary, collaborative network of researchers and practitioners who will help advance research and practice about spiritually integrated psychotherapies. The focus is on spiritually integrated psychotherapy approaches that are grounded in either a major world religion or a nontraditional spirituality that is clearly oriented toward something of sacred or transcendent value. This project will fund studies that use practice-based research designs that reveal what practitioners routinely do in practice. We will investigate how mental health professionals use spiritually integrated psychotherapy approaches as they work with clients who are struggling with emotional, relationship, and spiritual problems. The project will investigate the three general research questions below.

  1. What types of spiritual approaches do health care professionals use in their practices?

  2. When and how often do mental health professionals use spiritual approaches and interventions during the course of treatment?

  3. How effective are spiritual approaches and interventions with different types of clinical issues and patients?

Team Approach

Principal investigators should form a multidisciplinary team composed of at least one qualified researcher, practitioner, mental health educator, and pastoral/religious professional/clergy person who can each contribute conceptually and practically to the project. We require grant applicants to form multidisciplinary teams for their projects because we believe that this approach will facilitate high quality research, publications, and training materials, and enable us to reach important stakeholder groups that can assist in mainstreaming spiritually integrated psychotherapies. Individuals fulfilling each role should have commonly accepted professional credentials and experience for that role. If necessary, one person can fulfill up to two roles if they are qualified in both roles. Teams who are unable to formally include a pastoral professional or clergy person on their team can fulfill the requirement by discussing their proposal and research design with a qualified pastoral professional or clergy person who is recommended by the Project Directors and/or Scientific Advisory Board.

Bridges Practice-Research Network

All research teams who receive funding from the international grant competition will become members of Bridges PRN. Because of technological resources available through Bridges, grant recipients will be able to connect and collaborate with one another in multiple ways. A Bridges website, Bridges listserv, and WebEx videoconference account will enable grant recipients to share resources and support each other and their collaborating treatment sites. Through collaboration in the Bridges PRN, grant recipients will contribute to the establishment of a "big database" on the outcomes of spiritually integrated psychotherapies. Both practitioners and scholars will benefit from this collaboration and the database on spiritually integrated psychotherapies will rapidly grow.

Online Research System

Grant recipients will benefit from the Bridges online psychotherapy research system for conducting practice-based process and outcome research. The Bridges online assessment system has its own psychometrically validated outcome and process measures, but it is dynamic in that it can adapt or tailor the measures to fit the unique needs of each treatment site, clinician, and client. The online system includes two client self-report outcome scales, including the (1) Clinically Adaptive Multidimensional Outcome Survey (CAMOS), which takes about 5 minutes to complete and assesses clients’ distress and concerns in five areas (psychological, relationships, spiritual, physical health, and therapy progress/alliance), and (2) the Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation (CORE-10) client outcome measure, which was developed and validated by Michael Barkham and his colleagues in the United Kingdom The CORE-10 has 10 items that assess depression, anxiety, functioning (social, close relationships, physical, and general functioning), trauma, and risk. Using the CORE-10 in our project opens the door to a wealth of normative and data that will allow us to benchmark and compare the outcomes of spiritually integrated psychotherapies with other psychotherapy approaches. The online system also includes a therapist process survey called the Therapist Session Checklist (TSC), which takes about 1 – 2 minutes to complete after each treatment session and allows therapists to record what they did during the session (e.g., topics discussed, interventions used, therapeutic intentions).

Online Training Webinars

Several online webinars will be hosted by the Project Directors during the 3-year project in order to provide the following:

  1. The opportunity to ask questions about the three-year collaborative project and receive guidance on how to prepare and refine their proposal (for grant applicants who have been invited to submit a full proposal);
  2. Training for grant recipients and their treatment sites about how to successfully launch their research studies and use the online assessment systems in their treatment sites;
  3. Opportunities for grant recipients to ask questions and receive guidance and support about resolving problems that may have come up during the data collection phase of their projects;
  4. Support and guidelines to help grant recipients successfully share their research findings at the international conference with professionals, the media, and other stakeholder groups.

Conduct Practice-based Evidence Study

Each funded research team is required to conduct a practice-based evidence psychotherapy study that evaluates the processes and outcomes of spiritually integrated treatment as it occurs naturally in a mental health treatment site. By using the common outcome and process measures described above, each research team will contribute to a shared big data set that will make possible the investigation of research questions that would otherwise not be possible to explore without such group collaboration. Because of the online assessment system’s flexibility, grant recipients will also be able to address questions that are unique to their interests and context by adding process and outcome measures of their own. Even though practice-based evidence studies are less expensive to conduct, they have the potential to yield large quantities of rich process and outcome data. We estimate that the 20–30 studies we fund through the grant will enable us to collaboratively produce a set of approximately 450–500 psychotherapists, 20,000–22,000 patients, and 70,000–75,000 psychotherapy sessions.

International Conference

All grant recipients will participate in an international conference about spiritually oriented psychotherapies in a major USA city (to be announced) to present their research findings to scholars and to the general public. The international conference will be publicized so as to attract both local, national, and international media coverage (print, Internet, radio, and television), and will help inform professionals and the general public about the effectiveness and availability of spiritually oriented treatment approaches for mainstream health care.

Research Findings Dissemination

In order to succeed at bringing spiritually oriented psychotherapies more fully into the health care mainstream, this project must impact multiple stakeholders, including the media, general public, professional organizations, accreditation bodies, and health-care policy makers. Figure 1 illustrates our theory of how this collaborative research project can help achieve this goal. Changing the practice of mental health care begins with high quality research that will be stimulated by the grant competition. Mainstreaming spiritually oriented treatment approaches must begin with a strong evidence base because this will provide credibility and leverage for all other change efforts. Grant applicants should include a plan about how they will use their grant and research findings to help influence these stakeholders.


The funding for this RFP project was generously provided by the John Templeton Foundation and Brigham Young University.