Emily R. Pimpinella, PsyD, is a 2012 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University New England.

Dissertation Committee

  • Victor Pantesco, Ed.D. (Committee Chair)
  • Barbara Belcher-Timme, Psy.D. (Committee Member)
  • David Junno, Psy.D. (Committee Member)


psychology, religion, suffering, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, counseling

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One of the main tasks of psychologists is to help clients deal with suffering. In order to assist the client, a therapist needs to have an understanding of the client’s beliefs about suffering. Due to the importance of religion for much of the general population, and considering how beliefs influence clients when dealing with suffering, it is essential that psychologists be mindful and respectful of religious beliefs in order to provide competent service. In order to do this, therapists need to have knowledge about the religious doctrine that their client observes. Therapists also need to be aware of their own belief systems and the attitudes toward suffering and religion visible in the field of psychology in order to understand how these beliefs may influence treatment. This dissertation will: (a) explore literature which includes religious texts from Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism, as well as research and other scholarly works in order to distill different themes regarding suffering; (b) address how these themes are dealt with in the field of psychology; and (c) discuss how therapists can use this knowledge more effectively with their clients. The frame is social constructionist theory, which highlights the importance of culture and language in shaping how people view the world and suffering in particular.