Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Andrea Clements

Committee Members

Julia Dodd, Stacey Williams, Jason Steadman


Research in the areas of religion and spirituality and positive psychology have experienced considerable growth within the past two decades. Such growth has led to a plethora of research identifying important constructs in both areas and key relationships among them. The current literature is, however, limited by unclear distinctions between the constructs of religion and spirituality, and a general lack of research into their associations with positive psychological traits and mental health status. As such, the present study aimed to investigate a new model of spirituality, the RiTE model, which is a three-part model designed to capture the multifaceted nature of the spiritual experience. The RiTE model was investigated in its relationship with mental health status in the context of a parallel mediation model, with self-forgiveness, gratitude, and mindfulness serving as parallel mediators. Results suggested that ritualistic and existential spirituality displayed direct associations with mental health status (positive and negative, respectively), while theistic spirituality displayed indirect associations. Indirect associations between theistic spirituality and mental health status were primarily a function of higher levels of gratitude, while existential spirituality was associated with higher levels of all three mediator variables. Clinicians may benefit from utilizing this knowledge when conceptualizing an individual’s spiritual worldview and utilizing spirituality when attempting to enhance client resilience via positive psychological approaches. Future studies should provide further insight into these treatment applications in addition to further clarifying the nuanced mechanisms of the spirituality-mental health association.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.