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The focus of this project is developing a business plan for faith-based counseling for college students. Renewed Living Counseling Center (RLCC) is a faith-based counseling center in the Tempe area serving Arizona State University students. RLCC strives to bring healing and wholeness to each student who comes through the doors, to empower them to realize and live out their potential, by providing them with the skills to accomplish their dreams and live full lives, through counseling, motivation, education, and treating studentʼs behaviors to become whole and successful. Research indicates that the proposed center, Renewed Living Counseling Center (RLCC), has great potential for success because:
1. Spirituality and faith are increasingly recognized as important aspects in a personʼs life. National research shows that 66% of people feel counseling should include spirituality. Research with ASU students found that students reflect this statistic, as they feel spirituality is an important part of counseling. Students also feel spirituality is appropriate to include as part of counseling services offered by centers referred to by ASU.
2. There is a need for counseling at ASU. Nationally,approximately1,100 college students commit suicide each year. At ASU, almost one-third of students reported feeling so depressed that it is difficult to function, and 0.9% report having attempted suicide within the past year.
3. Surveys of ASU students indicate that students who describe themselves as being religious are more desirous that counseling include a spiritual dimension. Surveys of campus pastors indicate that over 80% believe there is a need for faith-based counseling and would refer students to a local center.
4. Price is an issue. Indeed, a survey of campus pastors indicated that they believed cost of counseling to be one of the primary deterrents to students seeking help. One way to control costs is to use a mixture of residents and licensed counselors. As in medicine, students must complete coursework along with a period of residency or internship to obtain licensing. Both religious and secular masters programs in counseling exist in the greater Phoenix area. Thus, there is a potential supply of students who could work as residents, permitting RLCC to offer counseling services at reasonable prices.
College and university students are heavily influenced by their exposure to opportunities, individuals, and belief-systems during their time in school. More specifically, countless students are impacted by campus Christian ministries. There are 67 registered religious clubs and organizations across Arizona State University's four campuses, and 46 of them identify as Christian. Similar to most faith-based organizations, Christian campus ministries seek to impact the lives of students. This study will take a look at the influence of these ministries at ASU by researching their intersection with another key component of university life: wellness.
The primary research question is, “How does involvement in Christian ministries at ASU relate to the wellness of students?” The study will examine multiple dimensions of wellness: occupational, physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional. Each component is essential to understanding the health and well-being of an individual, which is why this study will measure wellness levels in each dimension among samples of students at ASU.
The methodology chosen was a short, anonymous survey that 148 ASU students participated in—73 involved in Christian ministries at ASU and 75 not involved. The quantitative component included a wellness assessment using questions from The National Wellness Institute. These wellness scale questions were broken up into 5 randomized sections, each with one question per dimension, for 30 questions total. Each question response was assigned a rating on a 1 to 5 scale, 1 associated with low wellness and 5 high wellness. The qualitative component, comprised of short answer questions, only applied to students who were involved in a Christian ministry. This portion allowed respondents to explain if and how the ministry impacts each dimension of wellness uniquely.
The quantitative results showed some evident differences between students involved in Christian ministries and students not involved. The social and spiritual dimensions concluded much higher levels of wellness for involved students, both statistically significant with p-values of 0.028 and 0.004. Although some of the wellness differences between involved and not involved participants were not statistically significant, there is also notable variation among questions within each dimension. For the qualitative data, most students in Christian ministries said they believe their involvement increases their wellness in all six dimensions. For each dimension, over 75% of participants said that the ministry impacted their well-being. For the social, spiritual, and emotional dimensions, at least 97% of respondents said their ministry involvement impacted their wellness.
In examining the conclusions of the study, one recommendations is to strengthen the partnership between the greater ASU community and Christian ministries by collaborating and combining resources for programming that relates to their common goals and shared values. Additionally, other faith-based organizations at ASU may benefit from replicating this study to observe their unique wellness impact.