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Alexis D. Abernethy

Chief Academic Officer and Professor of Psychology, Clinical Psychology Department

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

Courses 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

Campus Affiliations

Areas of Expertise

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

“Spirituality and health emerged as my focus 25 years ago. What’s fascinating is that now it’s not only my research speciality: my teaching, exploring worship—all of these things are now converging on a greater focus on spiritual experience and its health-related dimensions.”


Alexis Abernethy reflects on the calling that has emerged from her years in academic careers.


Alexis Abernethy is a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology in the School of Psychology & Marriage and Family Therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary. In 2021 she was named chief academic officer at Fuller. Prior to that she served as the chief of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She graduated from Howard University with a BS in psychology. She received her MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.

Her primary research interest is the intersection between spirituality and health. Dr. Abernethy’s Spirituality and Health Lab includes three research teams: Experience of Spirituality and Health-Related Outcomes; Spirituality, Cancer, and Health Disparities; and Spirituality, Culture, and Eating Disturbance. She is the principal investigator of the Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services-Fuller Theological Seminary Research Collaborative. She has numerous research publications including the following: “Patient Patients: Increased Patience Associated with Decreased Depressive Symptoms in Psychiatric Treatment” in the Journal of Positive Psychology; “Understanding the Roles of Religious Comfort and Strain on Depressive Symptoms in an Inpatient Psychiatric Setting” in Psychology of Religion and Spirituality; “God Imagery and Affective Outcomes in a Spiritually Integrative Inpatient Program” in Psychiatry Research; and “Spiritual Struggles and Mental Health Outcomes in a Spiritually Integrated Inpatient Program” in the Journal of Affective Disorders. The Eating Disorders Team published the article “Spirituality and Eating Disorder Risk Factors in African American Women” in Eating and Weight Disorders.

She has conducted institutes and workshops nationally on cultural competence and spirituality in group therapy. Abernethy is a certified group psychotherapist and fellow of the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA). She currently serves on the Board of Directors for AGPA. She was the editor of a special edition of the journal Group (2004) on spirituality in group therapy and contributed the chapter “A Spiritually Informed Approach to Group Psychotherapy” in Kleinberg’s edited volume, The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Group Psychotherapy (2012). She coauthored an article with Lee Stevens on “Neuroscience and Racism: The Power of Groups for Overcoming Implicit Bias” and another article with David Allen and Marie Carroll on “Adapting Group Therapy to Address Real World Problems: Insights from Groups Offered in the Bahamas” in the International Journal of Group Psychotherapy (2017).

Download Abernethy’s CV, which includes a list of her current publications, here.

Featured Publications