God imagery and affective outcomes in a spiritually integrative inpatient program
Abstract: Religion and/or spirituality (R/S) can play a vital, multifaceted role in mental health. While beliefs about God represent the core of many psychiatric patients’ meaning systems, research has not examined how internalized images of the divine might contribute to outcomes in treatment programs/settings that emphasize multicultural sensitivity with R/S. Drawing on a combination of qualitative and quantitative information with a religiously heterogeneous sample of 241 adults who completed a spiritually integrative inpatient program over a two-year period, this study tested direct/indirect associations between imagery of how God views oneself, religious comforts and strains, and affective outcomes (positive and negative). When accounting for patients’ demographic and religious backgrounds, structural equation modeling results revealed: (1) overall effects for God imagery at pre-treatment on post-treatment levels of both positive and negative affect; and (2) religious comforts and strains fully mediated these links. Secondary analyses also revealed that patients’ generally experienced reductions in negative emotion in God imagery over the course of their admission. These findings support attachment models of the R/S-mental health link and suggest that religious comforts and strains represent distinct pathways to positive and negative domains of affect for psychiatric patients with varying experiences of God.