From Vice to Virtue: Evaluating a Manualized Intervention for Moral Spiritual Struggles

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The purpose of the current study was to develop and evaluate a brief manualized psychospiritual treatment program, entitled From Vice to Virtue: A Guide to Personal Transformation and Spiritual Growth, that addresses spiritual struggles of a moral nature. The intervention had 2 main goals: (a) to resolve moral spiritual struggles and cultivate greater virtue in participants’ lives, thereby reducing distress related to such struggles and (b) to promote spiritual growth by assisting individuals to draw upon religious and spiritual resources for motivation and strength. Participants were 50 volunteers from a modestly sized nondenominational Christian church in Southern California who were assigned to a treatment or wait-list control condition. They completed measures at pretest, posttest, and 4-week follow-up. Results from a mixed-model analysis of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures indicated that participants in the experimental condition showed greater improvements in their ability to cultivate virtue and resist vice from pretest to posttest compared with those in the wait-list control condition. After all participants completed the intervention, results from a repeated-measures ANOVA indicated that, on average, they showed improvements on all 4 of the outcome variables of virtue, vice, stress, and spiritual development. These gains were maintained at 4-week follow-up. These findings support the efficacy of the current psychospiritual intervention for treating moral spiritual struggles. We discuss the limitations of the study and its implications for research on spiritual struggles; psychospiritual interventions; and virtue, vice, and character education.

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