Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


This thesis had four purposes. These were to study the: (a) information network that exists among clergy and mental health workers; (b) referral network that exists among clergy and mental health workers; (c) factors that inhibit pastors' referrals to mental health workers; (d) extent to which previous findings about mental health worker-clergy relationships apply to rural settings. Data bearing on these purposes were collected by individually interviewing clergy in a rural Midwestern county. Of 31 pastors and 7 assistant pastors in the county, 34 (89%) participated in the study. These pastors were administered a standard interview survey consisting of 20 items within the context of a single interview session. The sessions were conducted by trained interviewers who were graduate students in psychology. Results included the finding that pastors receive most of their mental health related information through workshops at which mental health professionals speak (p < .05). This finding suggests that relationships between clergy and mental health workers could be improved by insuring that pastors are adequately informed about such workshops. The same finding also suggests that pastors would most likely be receptive to workshops that would meet their particular needs. One-half of the pastors indicated that workshops on marital or family conflicts would be helpful to clergy in their communities; nearly one-half indicated that workshops on substance abuse would be helpful to these clergy. Findings indicated that 85% of the pastoral community were members of the county ministerial alliance. This suggests that this organization would be an effective way of distributing mental health information to the pastoral community. Pastors indicated they referred persons with mental or emotional problems significantly more often to private practicing mental health workers or the area mental health center than to other referral resources (p < .05). This referral pattern was consistent with previous findings of Hong and Wiehe (01/01/1974). An Implication of this finding is that a way for mental health professionals to improve clergy-mental health worker relationships would be to emphasize their willingness to aid pastors by consulting and/or accepting referrals on cases involving mental and emotional problems. A caution regarding the conclusions of the present study was noted. This is that even though the particular rural area of the study was very well-sampled, the heterogeneous nature of rural America may limit the generalization of current findings to other rural areas.


Richard P. Schellenberg

Date of Award

Spring 1983

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1983 Max Meschberger


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