The therapeutic value of pilgrimage: a grounded theory study
Mental Health, Religion & Culture
The purpose of this constructivist grounded theory qualitative study was to explore the meaning assigned to pilgrimage experiences, to evaluate the similarities and differences between religious and non-religious pilgrimages, and to elucidate the therapeutic value of pilgrimage journeys. The theoretical underpinnings for the current study integrated historical and contemporary pilgrimage theory, personal construct theory, and multicultural counseling theory. Ten participants, who represented
... who represented diverse pilgrimage experiences, were interviewed about their particular journeys. The semi-structured interview protocol was based on previous pilgrimage scholarship and psychological theory. The interview transcripts were analyzed and coded in congruence with a grounded theory research design model. In specific, initial, focused, axial, and theoretical codes were established. After validation of the four levels of codes by study participants, the investigator posited an emerging theory that pilgrimage is therapeutic in biological, psychological, social, and spiritual ways. Further, the researcher observed that pilgrimages appear to differentiate along a dimension of linearity and were classified as either linear or nonlinear. Despite this classification, both types of pilgrimages in the current study shared a sacred focus. The limitations of the study were explored and the personal and societal implications of pilgrimage were addressed. Additionally, recommendations for future research, counseling practice, and counselor training were provided. Finally, conclusions were offered regarding the promotion of pilgrimage as an antidote for the loss of soul in modern society.