Changes in religiosity and spirituality following potentially traumatic events

Sulani Perera, Patricia A Frazier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The purpose of our study was to investigate spiritual and religious changes in the context of life adversities. Specifically, we compared university students (n = 122) who had recently experienced a potentially traumatic event (PTE) and a matched comparison group (n = 122) who had not experienced a recent PTE, in terms of: (1) the amount of actual and self-perceived positive and negative change in religiosity and spirituality; (2) the relations between perceived and actual positive and negative spiritual change; and (3) the relation between change in religiosity and spirituality and change in distress. Although there were small actual and perceived changes in religiosity and spirituality within each group, there were no between-group differences in terms of religious and spiritual change. Thus, changes over time in these life domains are not unique to PTE exposure. As expected, the relations between actual and perceived changes were small, highlighting that perceived and actual change are different constructs. Finally, differences between the two groups in the relations between religious and spiritual change and distress suggested that changes in these life domains may reflect coping efforts in the PTE group. We discuss the counseling and research implications of these results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-38
Number of pages13
JournalCounselling Psychology Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013


  • religiosity
  • spirituality
  • trauma


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