Counseling and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Date of Award


Degree Level


LCSH subject

Mental health -- religious aspects




St. Mary's University (San Antonio, Tex.)

Size or duration

ix, 136 pages

Document Type


First Advisor

Wooten, Ray H.


This study was undertaken to provide information and insights enabling mental health professionals to better understand and treat clients who follow the Coptic Orthodox religion. Using the heuristic phenomenological method dialogues with six members of the Coptic Orthodox church were conducted to learn how religious orientation influences attitudes toward psychological distress and psychological help-seeking in the Coptic Orthodox community. Qualitative analysis of responses revealed the following eight themes: culture informs religiosity, experiencing psychological distress, sources of psychological distress, attitudes toward psychological distress and help-seeking, devotion to the church, dealing with psychological distress religiously, carrying the cross, and priests as psychological counselors. Results suggest that many Coptic Orthodox followers who experience psychological distress are reluctant to share their experiences with their community due to stigmatization. Those who experience such distress typically seek counseling from their priest, relying on the reassurance of confidentiality in a priest/parishioner relationship, though findings suggest that some priests may lack competency in dealing with psychological difficulties.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.