Alexis D. Abernethy

Professor of Psychology, Department of Clinical PsychologySchool of Psychology

Contact Information
BS, Howard University
MA, PhD, University of California at Berkeley

Alexis Abernethy joined the Fuller School of Psychology faculty in 1998. Prior to coming to Fuller, she was on faculty within the Psychology Division of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center for 12 years.

Abernethy’s primary research interest is the intersection between spirituality and health, and she has received grants from the following grantors: California Cancer Research Program; the National Cancer Institute; the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts; Calvin Institute of Christian Worship; and the Templeton Foundation. Her current research includes a project on the scientific study of worship and studies on the relationship between religiousness and prostate screening among African American men and cultural factors among African American men that facilitate and impede colorectal and prostate cancer screening. She has also researched religious coping and depression among spouses of people with lung cancer, as well as the subjective experience of worship within and across ethnic and denominational groups and the connection of worship to behavioral and health-related outcomes. While at the University of Rochester Medical Center, she and her colleagues developed a new eight-item scientific measure of spirituality called the Spiritual Transcendence Index (STI).

Abernethy has published articles in journals such as Health Education and Behavior; Multicultural Counseling and Development; Mental Health, Religion, and Culture; Academic Medicine; Psychosomatics; International Journal of Group Psychotherapy; Journal of Psychosocial Oncology; and the Journal of Psychotherapy Practice and Research. She edited the book Worship That Changes Lives: Multidisciplinary and Congregational Perspectives on Spiritual Transformation (Baker Academic, 2008). Her clinical specialties include adult individual and group psychotherapy, and she frequently serves as a research consultant to projects seeking to utilize a culturally competent approach.

Courses Currently Taught

  • CN525: Pastoral Counseling in the African American Church
  • PC814: Clinical Interventions: Diversity Issues
  • PC816: Program Administration
  • PC818: Clinical Interventions: Group Psychotherapy
  • PI814: Spiritual Interventions in Therapy
  • PI815: Spiritual Transcendence and Health
  • PI818: Arts, Spirituality, and Transformation

Areas of Expertise, Research, Writing, and Teaching

Spirituality and health, cancer screening and religiousness, psychology of corporate worship, spirituality and eating disorders, cultural competence, and group psychotherapy



  • Abernethy, A. D. (Ed.). (2008). Worship that Changes Lives: Multidisciplinary and Congregational Perspectives on Spiritual Transformation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Peer Reviewed Journals

  • King, L. H., Abernethy, A. D., Keiper, C. D., & Craycraft, A. Exploring the relationships among ethnic identification, spirituality, and eating disorder risk factors in African American women. Mental Health, Religion, and Culture. (Article accepted for special issue).
  • Abernethy, A. D., Witvliet, C. V. O., Kurian , K. R., Brown, S., Uh, M., Rice, B. E., & Rold, L. (in press). Varieties of spiritual experience: A study of closeness to God, struggle, transformation, and confession-forgiveness in communal worship. Journal of Psychology and Christianity.
  • Abernethy, A. D., Kurian, K. R., Rice, B. E., Grannum, G. D., Rold, L., & Jones, H. (in press). Corporate worship and spiritual formation: Insights from worship leaders. Journal of Psychology and Christianity.
  • Cottingham, M. D., Davis, L., Craycraft, A., Keiper, C. D., Abernethy, A. D. (2014). Disordered eating and self-objectification in college women: Clarifying the roles of spirituality and purpose in life. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 17(9), 898-909.
  • Abernethy, A. D., Tadie, J. T., & Tilahun, B. (2014) Empathy in group therapy: Facilitating Resonant chords. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy. 64(4), 516-35
  • Eriksson, C. B., & Abernethy, A. D. (2014). Integration in multicultural competence and diversity training: Engaging difference and grace. Journal of Psychology and Theology 42(2), 174-187.
  • Christman, L. K., Abernethy, A. D., Gorsuch, R. L., & Brown, A.W. (2014) Intrinsic Religiousness as a mediator between fatalism and cancer-specific fear: Clarifying the role of fear in prostate cancer screening. Journal of Religion and Health, 53(3), 760-772.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (2012). Integration: Toward a variety of musical ensembles. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 40(2), 122-126.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (2012). A spiritually informed approach to group psychotherapy. In J. L. Kleinberg (Ed.), The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of group psychotherapy (pp. 681-705). Chicester, West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Counselman E. F., & Abernethy, A. D. (2011). Supervisory reactions: An important aspect of supervision. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 61(2), 197-216.
  • Brown, A. W., Abernethy, A. D., Gorsuch, R., & Dueck, A. (2010). Sacred violations, perceptions of injustice, and anger in Muslims. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40, 1003–1027. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2010.00608.x.
  • Eriksson, C. B., Bjorck, J. P., Larson, L. C., Walling, S. M., Trice, G. A., Fawcett, J., et al. (2009). Social support, organizational support, and religious support in relation to burnout in expatriate humanitarian aid workers. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 12(7), 671-686. doi:10.1080/13674670903029146.
  • Hay, J., Harris, J. N., Waters, E. A., Clayton, M. F., Ellington, L., Abernethy, A. D., & Prayor-Patterson H. (2009). Personal communication in primary and secondary cancer prevention: Evolving discussions, emerging challenges. Journal of Health Communication, 14 (Suppl 1), 18-29. doi:10.1080/10810730902806828.
  • Abernethy, A. D., Houston, T. R., Bjorck, J. P., Gorsuch, R. L., & Arnold, H. (2009). Religiousness and prostate cancer screening in African American men. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 27(3), 316-331. doi:10.1080/07347330902979036.
  • Abernethy, A. D. & Witvliet, C. V. O. (2008). A study of transformation in worship: Psychological, cultural, and psychophysiological perspectives. In A. D. Abernethy (Ed.), Worship that changes lives: Multidisciplinary and congregational perspectives on spiritual transformation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (2008). The voice of the congregation: Stories revealing the process of transformation. In A. D. Abernethy (Ed.), Worship that changes lives: Multidisciplinary and congregational perspectives on spiritual transformation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (2008). Call and response: Authors’ commentary on lessons learned from the congregation. In A. D. Abernethy (Ed.), Worship that changes lives: Multidisciplinary and congregational perspectives on spiritual transformation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (2008). Implications for theology, research, and worship practice. In A. D. Abernethy (Ed.), Worship that changes lives: Multidisciplinary and congregational perspectives on spiritual transformation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
  • Abernethy, A. D., Houston, T. R., Mimms, T., & Boyd-Franklin, N. B. (2006). Using prayer in psychotherapy: Applying Sue’s differential to enhance culturally competent care. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 12(1), 101-114. doi:10.1037/10999809.12.1.101.
  • Abernethy, A. D., Houston, T. R., Magat, M. M., Arnold, H., Gorsuch, R. L., & Bjorck, J. P. (2005).
  • Recruiting African American men in cancer screening studies: Applying a culturally-based model. Health Education and Behavior, 32(4), 441-451. doi:10.1177/1090198104272253.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (2005). Increasing the cultural proficiency of clinical managers. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 33(2), 81-93.
  • Greene, H. L., Abernethy, A. D., Reid, F. T. (2004). Creating sacred space for spirituality in consultation, supervision, and psychotherapy groups. Group, 28(4), 89-103.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (2004). Special edition on spirituality in group therapy (Guest Editor). Group, 28(4), 13-29.
  • Eriksson, C. B., Bjorck, J., & Abernethy, A. D. (2003). Occupational stress, trauma, and adjustment in expatriate humanitarian aid workers. In J. Fawcett (Ed.), Stress and trauma handbook: Strategies for flourishing in demanding environments (pp. 68-100). Monrovia, CA: World Vision International.
  • Abernethy, A. D., Chang, H. T, Seidlitz, L., Evinger, J. S., & Duberstein, P. (2002). Religious coping and depression among spouses of people with lung cancer. Psychosomatics, 43, 456-463. doi:10.1176/appi.psy.43.6.456.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (2002). The power of metaphors for exploring cultural differences in groups. Group, 26(3), 219-231.doi:10.1023/A:1021061110951.
  • Seidlitz, L., Abernethy, A. D., Duberstein, P., Evinger, S., Lewis B., & Chang, H. (2002). Development of the spiritual transcendence index. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41(3), 439-453. doi:10.1111/1468-5906.00129.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (2001). Ushering in the presence of God. Theology, News and Notes, 48(2), 23.
  • Markus, H., & Abernethy, A. D. (2001). Joining with the resistance: Addressing reluctance to engage in group therapy training. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 51(2), 191-204. doi:10.1521/ijgp.
  • Smetana, J. G., Abernethy, A. D., & Harris, A. (2000). Adolescent-Parent interactions in.
  • middle-class African American families: Longitudinal change and contextual variations. Journal of Family Psychology, 14(3), 458-474. doi:10.1037/0893-3200.14.3.458.
  • Abernethy, A. D., & Brown, W. S. (2000). Psychoneuroimmunology, Spirituality and Medicine. Spirituality and Medicine Connection, 4(1), 7.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (1999). Group cohesion: Maximizing healing in group therapy. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 18(3), 275-279.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (1999). A mentoring program for underrepresented minority students: Fostering the process of bicultural socialization. Academic Medicine, 74(4), 356-9.
  • Abernethy, A. D. & Lancia, J. J. (1998). Religion and the psychotherapeutic relationship: Transferential and countertransferential dimensions. Journal of Psychotherapy Practice and Research, 7(4), 281-289.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (1998). Working with racial themes in group psychotherapy. Group, 22(1), 1-13. doi:10.1023/A:1023025500831.
  • Abernethy, A. D., Naumburg, E. H., & Siegel, D. (1998). Rethinking partnerships: Bias in health care. In A. Suchman & P. Hinton-Walker (Eds.), Partnerships in health care (pp. 139-149). Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.
  • Abernethy, A. D. & Glover, R. (1996). Recognizing and responding to cultural dimensions of care. Medical Society Bulletin, 62(4), 16,18.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (1995). Managing racial anger: A critical skill in cultural competency training. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 23(2), 96-102.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (1995). The development of an anger management training program for law enforcement personnel. In L. R. Murphy, J. J. Hurrell, S. L. Sauter, & G. P. Keira (Eds.), Job stress intervention: Current practice and future directions (pp. 21-30). Washington, DC, American Psychological Association.
  • Abernethy, A. D. & Cox, C. (1994). Anger management training for law enforcement personnel. Journal of Criminal Justice, 22(5), 459-466. doi:10.1016/0047-2352(94)90036-1.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (1994). Cultural competency training: Survival techniques for trainers. Psych Discourse, 25, 15-16.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (1994). Culture and psychological evaluations. OMH News, 6(10),16.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (1993). An Afrocentric perspective in ethnicity training. Psych Discourse, 24, 10-11.
  • Abernethy, A. D. (1992). Anger management training for law enforcement personnel. [Abstract]. Proceedings of the American Psychological Association/National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Conference, Washington, DC.
  • Abernethy, A. D., Cowan, P. A., Gurza, R., Huang, K. H., Kim, M., King, N. F., & Lum, J. (1988). Psychology tomorrow: A unified ethnic psychology course. In P. Bronstein and K. Quina (Eds.), Teaching in the psychology of people; Resources for gender and sociocultural awareness (pp. 115-119). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.


Dr. Abernethy’s CV

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