202187 "I don't think they should try to force religion down your throat”: Adolescents' perceptions of religious coercion in a faith-based residential treatment facility

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rene Drumm, PhD , Department of Social Work and Family Studies, Southern Adventist University, Collegedale, TN
Linda Potter Crumley, PhD , School of Journalism and Communication, Southern Adventist University, Collegedale, TN
Octavio Ramirez, PhD , Department of Social Work and Family Studies, Southern Adventist University, Collegedale, TN
Ruth Williams Morris, PhD , School of Education and Psychology, Southern Adventist University, Collegedale, TN
This presentation reports findings from a qualitative study of former residents of a faith-based residential facility targeting adolescent males with ADHD. This retrospective study examined 30 participants' experiences to gain insights into the facility's treatment approach which includes a spiritual/religious component.

Researchers conducted face-to-face semi-structured, open-ended interviews that ranged from approximately one and a half to four hours in length. The majority of interviews were videotaped with the balance audio taped. All were transcribed verbatim in preparation for grounded-theory analysis.

The analysis reveals the complexity of the effects of religious programming on individual spirituality. While participants noted a fairly consistent picture of religious requirements of the facility, these practices did not produce uniform results within or among participants in terms of their effects on internal spiritual growth. Considerable differences surfaced among the participants as they recounted their experiences at the treatment facility and their current religious and spiritual journeys. The participant themes include: the influence of the treatment environment on spirituality, desires for improving religious programming, and the lack of preparation for maintaining a spiritual life outside the facility. While many former residents conformed to the strict requirements of the religious components while in the treatment program, the analysis offers little evidence of enduring positive spirituality for the attendees. Further, because of the rigid environment and harsh treatment by some of the staff, the negative memories impact the participants' current spiritual lives.

Learning Objectives:
By the end of the presentation the attendees will be able to: (1)Discuss the range of experiences of former residents of a faith-based adolescent treatment facility on spiritual growth (2)Compare the disparate voices of former residents concerning the differences between spirituality and religiosity (3)Discuss how to use these findings in a faith-based practice context to assist organizations to avoid negative spiritual impacts

Keywords: Faith Community, Treatment Outcomes

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the principle investigator in the study. We have presented various findings from the study in peer reviewed venues.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.