Recently accepted to Spirituality in Clinical Practice. Pre-print coming soon.
Effective screening and psychological assessment is critical for identifying and screening out clergy candidates which may be inappropriate for these callings, based on psychopathology, addictive behavior, emotional immaturity, personality characteristics incongruent with effective ministry, or deviant sexual interests and behaviors. Emotional deficits such as avoidance of negative emotions and inability to cope with negative affect have been identified as known risk factors for various problematic behaviors for which psychological assessment of clergy applicants are intended to identify (e.g., sexual offending). Likewise, a preponderance of negative emotions (i.e. anger, impatience, irritability, and resentment) are regularly found in clergy credibly accused of sexual misconduct.
In clergy applicants (n= 137) undergoing psychological assessments as part of their evaluation for a diconate formation program between 2013 and 2019, correlational relationships between 16PF and MMPI-2-RF scale scores were examined. Partial reults are presented below.
Significant relationships were most pronounced between 16PF global factors of Anxiety and Self-Control and the MMPI-2-RF scales of emotional (e.g., inefficacy, self-doubt, anxiety) and interpersonal dysfunction (e.g., social avoidance, family problems), consistent with an emotional deficits hypothesis. Behaviorally disconstrained relationships were less pronounced and irregular, perhaps owing to the low rate of clinically-elevated scores and the restricted range of scores due to defensive responding, as evidenced by high K-r/L-r scores. Thus, rather than focusing on egregious problematic behavior that is likely minimized or hidden in an admission context, psychological evaluations may be more effective by focusing on problematic emotional states as well as candidates’ ability to manage stress and cope with challenges (e.g., Baer & Miller, 2002). Based on results observed within this study, the MMPI-2-RF appears well-suited to this task.