Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Dennis Waite


Problem: The literature suggests that religious orientation and ethnic identity inform the religious coping process, which is better understood in the context of a particular stressor. However, research on this topic is limited, particularly among ethnic minorities.

Method: A survey was used to collect data on religious orientation, ethnic identity, and religious coping from a sample of 319 adults who had lost a significant other within 36 months of the study. A total of 11 variables were measured using The Means-Ends Spirituality Questionnaire, the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure-Revised, and the Brief RCOPE.

Results: A canonical variate labeled "religious engagement" was a predictor for religious coping. Further analyses using multiple regression found that variables associated with traditional religious expressions (Devotional Spiritual Means), spiritual ends with a transcendental focus (Approach-unseen-autonomous Ends, Avoidance-unseen-external Ends), and Ethnic Identity were relevant predictors of Positive Religious Coping while Transcendental Means was a relevant predictor of Negative Religious Coping.

A stepwise discriminant analysis found that "ethnic identity and conservative religious orientation" discriminated between ethnic groups. Cases with higher levels of ethnic identity and conservative religious orientation were more likely to be classified as Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino/a, while those with lower levels were more likely to be classified as White.

Conclusions: When coping with bereavement, individuals who engage in traditional expressions of spiritual worship and strive to achieve ordinary and transcendental spiritual goals are more likely to rely on a secure relationship with the sacred, a belief that life has meaning, and a sense of connectedness with their religious community. Also, individuals who place greater value and emotional significance in their sense of belonging to their ethnic group are more likely to engage in positive religious coping. Thus, counseling psychologists should strengthen their multicultural and spiritual competencies in order to provide ethical and effective services to a population that is increasingly diverse.

Subject Area

Ethnicity, Bereavement--Religious aspects, Loss (Psychology)--Religious aspects, Grief--Religious aspects