Theses Doctoral

Investigating a Spirituality Mind-Body Intervention for Enhanced and Healthier Perception in an Undergraduate Population: An Open-Trial Pilot Study

Scalora, Suza Catherine

Increasing prevalence and severity of undergraduate psychopathology, combined with heightened burden on college campus counseling centers and the potential for sustained distress and self-harm, has necessitated comprehensive, vertically integrated on-campus mental health services. Initiatives include preventive interventions that: 1) foster resilience and adaptive coping, 2) ameliorate sub-threshold symptoms of pathology as secondary prevention, and 3) foster well-being and meaningful student experiences for greater fulfillment and thriving. A growing body of supportive data has led to some expansion of mental health and wellness services on college campuses, including the use of spiritually integrated mind-body practices to promote well-being. While college campuses’ wellness initiatives show promise, structured spiritual-mind-body (SMB) interventions have yet to be formally tested in either open or controlled clinical trials.

The primary aim of this open-trial pilot study was to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of an eight-session SMB-integrated wellness intervention, Awakened Awareness for Adolescents (AA-A), adapted specifically for late adolescent (ages 18 - 25) college students from Awakened Awareness for adults (AA) to support spiritual development and individuation. A secondary aim was to obtain preliminary data on changes in undergraduate students’ mental health and spiritual well-being across the AA-A intervention. Participants consisted of 77 non-clinically-referred undergraduates aged 18 - 24, who attended an average of M = 5.75 (SD = 1.42) out of the eight sessions. Measures included common psychopathology symptoms, spiritual well-being, psychological, and psychosocial variables using validated self-report assessments. Additionally, we explored the effect of spiritual well-being variables’ change scores as predictors of post-AA-A psychopathology symptom scores, controlling for pretest symptom scores. Differential effects between participants with high and low baseline depression symptoms were examined on outcome measures.

Preliminary findings support the feasibility and acceptability of the AA-A intervention for college student’s mental health and spiritual well-being. Results include significant reductions in depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress (PTS) symptoms, and significant improvements in numerous spiritual well-being, psychological, and psychosocial variables. Further, a recovery process from high rates of PTS symptomatology and spiritual decline may be initiated by SMB interventions that foster enhanced spiritual perception and build awareness of personal and relational spirituality.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Clinical Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Miller, Lisa Jane
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 28, 2021