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Healing with Spiritual Practices: Proven Techniques for Disorders from Addictions and Anxiety to Cancer and Chronic Pain
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Spiritually Formative Practices and Stress-Related Disorders 11 promising. Two full-fledged workbook intervention studies have been con- ducted. Lavelock and colleagues22 had people complete a nine-hour work- book and compared them to a control condition. They assessed the degree to which completing the humility intervention built humility and other vir- tues, specifically forgiveness, patience, and self-control. They also assessed positivity in terms of increased positive emotions and decreased negative emotions. The PROVE Humility workbook produced an increase in humility (d = 0.47), forgiveness (d = 0.56), patience (d = 0.49), and self-control (d = 0.10) relative to the control condition. Lavelock and colleagues22 repli- cated this with a revised version of the workbook. The humility workbook produced increases in humility (d = 0.86), forgiveness (d = 0.91), and patience (d = 0.19). Future Research on Spiritual Formation and Stress-Related Disorders Currently, there is only indirect evidence from psychological studies that spiritual formation exercises can reduce the level of stress-related disorders or prevent them altogether, make people resilient when they occur, or pro- mote states in which such disorders are resisted. However, there is theoreti- cal reason to believe that such effects are possible. This leaves a research agenda wide open. In general, basic research should focus on testing whether the theoretical reasoning linking spiritual formation as an antagonist to stress-related disorders is sound. This might address such propositions as the assumption that spiritual formation results in less chronic stress, and if so, for whom and under what conditions. The idea that unforgiveness, lack of humility, impatience, lack of gratitude, lack of generosity, and the opposites of each of the panoply of virtues are stressful might be a very tenuous assumption indeed. For example, as Chester and DeWall26 have shown, for some people, revenge is sweet. We might also think that miserliness (instead of generosity) might settle some people because they hoard their resources and thus feel more secure. One could speculate as well about all the other virtues. In terms of intervention research, developing targeted virtue-oriented interventions that can be used in spiritual formation is a must for all reli- gions and spiritual worldviews for each of the constituent virtues and assess- ing as an outcome whether they yield lessened stress-related disorders, prevention, resilience, or promotion of resistance to stress. The assumption that becoming more virtuous in more virtues develops one’s spiritual forma- tion and reduces the impact of stress-related disorders deserves testing. Most of the existing research in this area has focused on college students. Future research is also needed in religious communities of various sizes. It is conceivable that megachurches are highly different environments for devel- oping oneself spiritually than are small local congregations. While the large