McKay School professor Scott Richards recently received a large grant of $3,572,011 from the John Templeton Foundation, a private philanthropic organization that funds research “relating to the Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality.” Richards’ research focuses on evaluating the healing potential of faith and spirituality in psychotherapy sessions.
“A lot of people are hesitant to seek professional help because they are afraid that psychotherapists won’t respect their faith and religious beliefs. We’re hoping that this project will help change that,” Richards explained.
Over the next few years, Richards and his team will distribute $1.8 million in funds to other researchers to help advance the field of spiritually integrated psychotherapy. They have already had researchers from many places around the world contact them to express interest in collaborating on the project.
“It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m excited to collaborate with my project co-directors at BYU—Professor Daniel Judd in Religious Education and Professor Kawika Allen in Counseling Psychology. We’ll also have the support of BYU administrators and staff and many talented BYU students,” Richards said.
The research will be a collaborative endeavor with professionals from around the world, including various locations in North America as well as England, Spain, South America, and Israel. “We’re excited about collaborating with other scholars, practitioners, and treatments sites . . . to develop a large data set about spiritually oriented treatment approaches and to develop a network of people . . . to help the field move forward. Our overall goal is to help legitimize and mainstream spiritually sensitive mental health treatment approaches,” Richards explained.
In 2014, after submitting their initial grant proposal, Richards and his team received a notification from the Templeton Foundation that informed them that of the 240 grant proposals that had been considered, theirs had been selected as one of ten finalists. Richards was invited to submit a revised proposal for consideration. Five of the ten finalists eventually received grants, including Richards and his team who in December 2014 received a preparatory grant of $207,000.
After receiving the preparatory grant, Richards and his team worked hard for two years to prepare for the project. They submitted a report of their progress and a final grant proposal asking for additional funding at the end of November 2016. It was just before Christmas when they received the notification that the Templeton Foundation had decided to award them a grant of $3,572,011 to lead a three-year project titled, “Enhancing Practice-Based Evidence for Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapies: An Interdisciplinary Big Data Project.”
For others interested in pursuing a grant of their own, Richards recommends seeking opportunities to publish their work. In this way, they can become recognized as a scholar contributing to research in their particular topic area.
“The next step is to think about research that needs to be done in their area [to] help advance the field,” Richards explained. “Think about worthwhile projects that would be at the cutting edge of the field, that would advance the knowledge and practice in that field.”
He further advises others to look for a good match for funding. When it comes to searching for funding agencies or foundations, find one that would be likely to fund the type of research you’re interested in.
Another great resource is colleagues, according to Richards. Consulting with colleagues who have had experience with writing grant proposals can be a great aid.
Finally, Richards emphasized the importance of writing a carefully crafted grant proposal. Taking a workshop on writing grant proposals can be beneficial.
“Write a top-notch proposal that really builds a strong case on why what you want to do is important and why you’re capable of doing the project effectively,” Richards recommended.
P. Scott Richards received his PhD in counseling psychology in 1988 from the University of Minnesota. He has been a faculty member at Brigham Young University since 1990 and is a professor in the McKay School of Education’s Department of Counseling Psychology and Special Education.
Writer: Janine Swart
Contact: Cindy Glad (801) 422-1922