Date of Conferral
While clergy are at the forefront of providing mental health counseling services, many lack confidence in their ability to provide adequate care for those suffering mental health issues and many, across denominations, question the validity and reliability of mental health counseling and are reluctant to make referrals to professional counselors. There remains a gap in the current research literature regarding the views of Southern Baptist pastors. Using conflict theory as the framework for this study, the purpose of this exploratory quantitative study was to determine how 225 Southern Baptist pastors' conservative views, church size, and educational level (the independent variables) impacted their attitude towards counseling (the dependent variable). Data were collected using the Religious Attitude Scale and the Attitude Toward Seeking Professional Help Scale. A three-way ANOVA was performed to measure interaction effects among the independent variables. The results of this research indicated that a pastor's level of education and conservative views, but not church size, had an impact on attitudes about counseling. While future research could better inform the kinds of education that influence counseling referrals from pastors, this research supports the idea that more educated pastors are more likely to use diverse resources for addressing congregants' issues of mental wellness. The results of this research can influence social change because Christians needing mental health counseling often go to their pastor for help. Providing further education to pastors about the benefits of professional counseling will result in improved mental health for those congregants and their families.