Kevin J. McKenzie, Psy.D., is a 2024 graduate of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Martha Straus, PhD, Chairperson
  • Barbara Belcher‑Timme, PsyD, Committee Member
  • Vincent Pignatiello, PsyD, Committee Member


Positive psychology, well being, freedom, autonomy, confirmatory factor analysis, Index of Autonomous Functioning, PERMA Profiler, Self Determination Theory

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This project explores the relationship between freedom and well‑being. Through reviewing the literature of positive psychology and existential psychology, clearer pictures of well‑being and freedom emerge, allowing for statistical analysis. By adopting Seligman’s well‑being theory as a model that incorporates hedonic and eudaimonic elements of well‑being and self‑determination theory’s conceptualization of autonomy as a proxy for freedom in existential psychology, this study explores the relationship between these constructs and their theorized factors through correlational analysis. A potential measurement model for an overall well‑being measure incorporating freedom as a factor is proposed and tested using confirmatory factor analyses. The effects of demographic factors on well‑being and freedom are also explored through analyses of variance. The results of this project suggest a moderate positive correlation between well‑being and freedom, although the hypothesized measurement model fails to achieve good fit when tested using confirmatory factor analysis. Through model modifications, an acceptable fitting model emerges that reflects the relationship between freedom and well‑being described in the literature review and bolstered by the data. This model, however, requires further study and verification due to the nature of its emergence. Certain identity and demographic factors are also identified as having effects on well‑being and autonomy. These results are discussed, along with the limitations of this study. Future directions for research and theoretical investigation are highlighted, including revisiting the measures used in this study through exploratory factor analyses or exploratory structural equation modeling. Clinical implications are identified and discussed, with suggestions for clinical practice also included, such as the need for clinicians to assess a person’s level freedom and well‑being as an element of motivation to change. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA ( and Ohio Link ETD Center (


ORCID: 0009‑0000‑3409‑0073