Committee Chair

Rausch, David W.

Committee Member

O'Brien, Elizabeth R.; Crawford, Elizabeth K.; Rutledge, Valerie C.


School of Professional Studies


College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


The purpose of this study was to examine the difference in participants’ perceived psychological well-being/distress and perceived faith maturity over time based on participation in Walking Worthy a Journey to Freedom (WWJ). The research was designed as a fully mixed sequential equal status design with the quantitative portion conducted as an ex post facto comparative study followed by a focus group. Participants completed the CORE-OM, the FMS and RPWB at the beginning and the conclusion of the program. Statistically significant negative (suggests improvement) correlations were found for overall well-being (p < .001, d = .381), subjective well-being ( p < .001, d = 0.672), problems/symptoms (p < .001, d = .549), life-functioning (p < .001, d = .506), and risk (p < .001, d = .169). Differences in participants’ perceived overall faith maturity (p < .039, d = .352), perceived view of God (p < .001, d = .620), and perceived view of others (p < .022, d = .593) reflected a statistically significant increases. Differences in perceived overall psychological well-being (p < .001, d = .401), autonomy (p < .003, d = .540), environmental mastery (p < .001, d = .637), personal growth (p < .001, d = .451), positive relations (p < .001, d = .451), purpose in life (p < .003, d = .415), and self-acceptance (p < .001, d = .642), showed statistically significant mean increases. Through the focus group, participants contrasted negative themes including perfectionism, shame, living in lies, and codependency with positive themes of living in truth, freedom, making sense of life, and facilitating change. Spiritual themes included improved relationships, seeing others through God’s eyes, experiencing God’s love, and seeing self through God’s eyes. The mental health and spiritual constructs and themes explored through this study revealed movement away from pathology and toward wellness over the time spent in Walking Worthy. These findings provide mental health and faith-based practitioners a research base from which to evaluate the use of the program in practice.


I owe my dissertation committee a deep debt of gratitude for their encouragement, guidance, wisdom, and grace. They have walked through life with me, helping me keep my eye on the goal and finish the race. Dr. David Rausch, my dissertation committee chair: From the first day of induction, you told us that you were for us and wanted to see us complete this program. You have walked that commitment out over and over again as I progressed through the coursework and throughout writing my dissertation. I thank you for challenging me to think, to grow, and to learn. I have gained a deep understanding of learning and leadership as you have modeled these concepts throughout this program. Thank you! Dr. Elizabeth Crawford, my methodologist: Thank you for helping me maintain focus with your ever encouraging, “That is something Dr. Lamberson can do.” Throughout this process, I have heard those words whenever I was tempted to go down a rabbit trail. As you and Dr. Rausch have often said, “Life happens.” Your encouragement, feedback, and willingness to walk with me through this program as I navigated life gave me the endurance to cross the finish line. I am profoundly grateful. Dr. Valerie Rutledge and Dr. Elizabeth O’Brien, my other committee members: Your input, advice, and questions have added to my growth as a student and a researcher. I so appreciate your contribution to the quality of this research project. I am deeply indebted to my cohort, especially Rita Jackson, Rebecca Littleton, Crystal Mayer, Becky Willis, and Koye Solomon. Your discussion, feedback, commiseration, and friendship have made this a journey of friends. A special thank you to Jen Litton: your hard work, sharp thinking, and outside-the-box approach to life and school kept me challenged throughout the course portion of this program. You are missed. I would be remiss in not mentioning my many friends and colleagues who have encouraged me, prayed for me, and challenged me to complete this process. Thank you for being a part of my life. I would like to acknowledge, Elodia Flynn who wrote the Walking Worthy a Journey to Freedom Program. I am immeasurably grateful for both your and the program’s impact on my life. I pray that God will continue to use both you and the program to help His people walk in freedom. Finally, and above all, I thank my God and Father for His grace, patience, and love. May all I do shine Your light and Your glory to others.


Ph. D.; A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.




Group psychotherapy--United States; Psychotherapy--Religious aspects--Christianity; Mental health--Religious aspects--Christianity


Walking Worthy a Journey to Freedom; faith-based psychoeducational program; religion; Christianity; well-being; mental health


Educational Leadership

Document Type

Doctoral dissertations




xv, 173 leaves