Mental health and the relationship with God : an attachment and internal working model perspective.


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Religion and spirituality in the realm of mental health and coping have illustrated complex relationships and effects. The field has recognized a need to extend beyond religious affiliation and behaviors and investigate the cognitive frameworks that guide how and why individuals engage with their belief systems. The unique relationship to a divine figure is an important factor in coping schemas and includes the image or cognitive perception of God and attachment style to God. The present study investigated these two constructs with respect to religiosity and as predictors of depression, anxiety, stress, worry, and global distress levels using an online American sample. Findings show that religiosity was related to a more engaged image of God and a less avoidant attachment style but was unrelated to a judgmental image and anxious attachment to God. In terms of mental health, mixed findings were evident but highlight an anxious attachment to God as the most salient factor. Regression analyses demonstrate this as well, and an anxious attachment style significantly predicted depression, anxiety, worry, and global distress even when controlling for religiosity, age, gender, and social support. Implications for practitioners and clinical research are discussed.



Religion. Spirituality. Psychological distress.