“Going to the WELL”
The Wellness Education for Living and Loving is now a public charity, tax-exempted under 501-(c)(3), and called together to:
- Promote Christian wisdom as a pathway and model for personal and systemic wellness,
- Demonstrate with research that living in Christ by Biblical principles produces holistic health,
- Enhance an online test of personal wellness: the TAW is free, anonymous, and Biblically based; and
- Create a popular website to promote wellbeing, and through the TAW, draw people to Christ.
20 Q & A about WELL and the TAW
for Prospective Board Members,
Paid Professionals, and Volunteers
1. What is the TAW?
The Traditional Assessment of Wellness is a free, online, anonymous, and comprehensive test of holistic personal wellbeing. It measures healthy and sickening uses of nine life resources: truth, security, respect, concern, anger, money, time/energy, sexuality, and bodily health. (See question 7 below for an outline of its primary scales.) The test takes 20 minutes to complete, and offers 5 pages of immediate feedback: narrative and graphic information about the person’s 47 scores, plus resources and activities suggested for personal growth. For research purposes, the TAW asks for 14 pieces of demographic information about such things as age, occupation, education, income, gender identity, and political views, to see how these can be the causes or effects of changes in a person’s wellness.
2. What’s the benefit from taking the TAW?
The TAW is the only test of wellness that actually teaches and motivates compliance, not only with the directives of medical wellbeing, but also with the laws of mental, emotional, financial, sexual, social, and spiritual health as well. The test feedback gives users new and better solutions to their problems, teaching them to see and desire what is healthiest for the most people in the long run. The hallmark of traditional wisdom is that instead of trying to change moods (to make us happy or calm), it grows character (teaching us to carry and convey more joy and peace). Instead of bringing health to the body, it inspires health in the person who takes care of that body, and of other bodies too.
3. Has this been proven to work?
The TAW is a revision of an established wellness test in use for 40 years, the Character Assessment Scale (the CAS), . It’s been sold all over the world as a test for moral character. Its validating research was given a one-hour presentation at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association, who later published the test themselves. That research proved these issues have significant impact on physical and mental health, and it identified 12 lifestyle issues that impacted personal wellbeing. The TAW now uses these age-old moral concepts as a model for wellness. The best items from the CAS have been adapted to a new Likert scale format, and expanded to include the ninth issue of Fear vs. Faith.
4. What is the current structure of WELL?
It now has all the legal and financial nonprofit structures in place to start promoting the test, and to show how much good it does. The TAW will be taken through the website to-the-well.org, which will direct interested users to a host of wellness resources. In October 2020, we began to assemble a board of directors, and FOUR TASK FORCES to include board members, paid professionals, and volunteers: Testing Technology (to streamline the presentation and scoring of the TAW), Research (to revise and validate the TAW, and publish the findings from its data), Website Development (to make it interactive, educational, and attractive), and Publicity and Fund-raising (grantsmanship, traditional and social media).
5. What are volunteers and paid professionals needed for?
They are needed to serve alongside each other and board members, on one or two or the four task forces listed in the previous question.
6. Why study these particular nine issues?
Besides this scientific evidence proving they strongly affect health and illness, they are based on age-old summaries of what’s taught in the Bible for wellness. A little over 4000 years ago, Abraham was given his covenant from God, who promised simply to bless his descendants so that they would be a blessing to the whole world (Gen. 12: 1-3). About 500 years later, the Ten Commandments were given to us through Moses (Deut. chapter 5), who told us that following these commands would enable us to “enjoy long life” (6:2), “so that it may go well with you” (6:3, 18), and “so that we may always prosper and be kept alive” (6:24, NIV). About 500 years after Moses, King Solomon explained that his book of Proverbs “was written down so we’ll know how to live well and right” (Pr 1:2, the Message). When Jesus began His teachings with the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), He explained at the outset He was teaching us how to be blessed (5:1-12), and at the end that these guidelines were to make our hearts healthy so they would bear good, long-lasting fruit (7:15-27). The apostle Paul listed these sick and healthy fruits of the flesh and spirit in Gal 5:19-23. The TAW was deliberately designed to measure the good/healthy and bad/sickening fruits the Bible teaches us about. In 590 A.D., Pope Gregory catalogued seven of the nine sickening attitudes into “the seven deadly sins.” These traits and their positive healthy counterpart “virtues” have dominated most of the pastoral counseling literature since that time. Until the time of Freud and the marketing of the medical model, these nine issues were among the most widely discussed topics in Western society.
7. Exactly what does the TAW measure?
The first set of three issues deal with Jesus’ first great commandment, and Moses’ first four. The last two sets of three issues deal with Jesus’ second great commandment, and Moses’ last six (see Main Feedback Sheet). These concepts have remained our best guide through the years to find wellness and avoid illness.
8. What other tests or programs already provide similar benefits?
Of the tests that measure several dimensions of wellness, most are proprietary, to profit the businesses that created the test. Only the TAW will offer percentiles based on the entire normative sample, comparisons with the local sample through which their scores were submitted, all corrected for social desirability (the effort to present oneself in a favorable light). Of the few free, anonymous, online tests, none measures even a third of the issues this tests examines.
By far the best competition is from the National Wellness Institute, clearly a profit-minded nonprofit. It is based on a six-dimensional theory about wellness, but the theory doesn’t generate cause-and-effect insights, or remedial solutions. Individual memberships cost $100, groups can join for $300, and “health professionals and wellness administrators” can become certified for $500. Their annual summer wellness conference looks good, and costs $350 for online participation. Feedback on the free online test gives just a raw score for each of the six dimensions. One of the dimensions is spiritual, but it is not at all Biblical. It doesn’t touch the moral motivational issues the TAW covers.
9. What will be required of board members?
The board will have its initial meeting at Dr. Schmidt’s home, where outdoor social distancing can be maintained, and creative synergy will be maximized for setting our course. Future meetings will probably be held virtually, every two months in the first year, and quarterly in the next. They will not be expected to support the corporation financially.
10. What will be benefits for board members?
Liability insurance will be furnished, as soon as the board decides it is needed. (It is expensive, so we’ll need to raise some money first.) Board members may be paid for their services and products, which can also be featured/recommended on the website. They will be part of a community of people who all share mature Christian faith embodied in living healthy lives, bearing good spiritual fruit. They will have the rich reward of co-creating experiences that will leave the world a much better place.
11. Why would anybody take the TAW?
Their cost would be only a half hour of their time: twenty minutes to take the test, and ten minutes to read through their immediate written feedback. There would be no risk of losing any money or privacy. The substantial benefits would include:
- Improvements in health from better medical compliance,
- New self-knowledge about their own healthy and sickening habits and motivations,
- Challenges from comparing with previous scores, or with local or worldwide peers,
- New problem-solving skills, new ways of handling nine powerful life resources,
- Empowerment in recovery and healing for people suffering from trauma and addictions, and
- Devotional and Bible study aids for their personal growth and healing.
12. Why would pastoral counselors or life and wellness coaches use the TAW?
Pastoral counselors will naturally want to use the Bible study aids for all nine issues the test covers. Literature reviews find that all fields of coaching (fitness, nutrition, financial, dating, career, life, wellness, etc.) are still searching for a proven model for how to find and keep the good life. Without any money or time investment in training, these coaches could take the TAW themselves, and experience the benefits in their own lives. Then when they teach their clients to take it, they would be weaving their professional work into the oldest and most successful theoretical model ever found for personal and organizational wellness.
13. How could the website to-the-well.org promote wellness?
Imagine a popular, colorful, interactive website for personal wellness, offering mostly free, all healthy resources and links for articles, podcasts, programs, products, research, movies, music, novels, short stories, and self-help books, all prescreened by our board to be based on this model, or compatible with it. It will give away the best of what we know to people seeking wellness and healing. It will feature a podcast and a blog, both like Dr. Schmidt’s “Brain Food for the Good Life.” It will post old and new studies discovering how people get sick, and how they get well. The website will host the test, and the board promote both with regular posts on social media, and press releases to traditional media.
14. Would college professors want their school/department to partner with WELL?
This would certainly appeal to Christian schools, from high school on up. Without front-end costs or training, any college could quickly generate publishable studies for their students, because all data from research with the TAW will be shared openly at openresearch.org. If all faculty or students were required to take the tests each year (again, at no cost to the school), their department or school could gain recruiting advantages by advertising the proven and growing wellness of their campus. One Christian school will serve as our primary research partner, for validating and revising the test. University faculty who oversee these technical upgrades for the TAW will be honored and appreciated by receiving authorship of research studies, and co-authorship of the test itself.
15. Would corporations and family-owned businesses want to partner with WELL?
Any size business may want the reduced health-care costs and increased productivity of becoming a healthier place to work. We may issue WELL Workplace certifications for those who have demonstrated exceptional scores, or creative programs. Given the free nature of this program and the widespread need for outcome-based programs, our services and products should appeal to the boards and HR directors of large corporations, plus the small independent Christian business owner. Both educational and business partners can use their own portals for presenting the TAW, as long as data is shared with WELL, and their administration of the test is still free, online, and anonymous.
16. Will these practices be followed by the Board of Directors for WELL?
We will all take the test annually, and share what we have learned from the experience. Board members will be sought who demonstrate mature and healthy Christian lifestyles and beliefs. They will be confessing some degree of calling to join in with the work of this group. Their lives and testimonies will show that they are at home abiding in the vine, bearing good fruit in their private and public lives. Board members will bring wisdom, knowledge, skills, and connections from their previous experiences working to leave the world a better place, and leave the glory to God. Additional benefits will include:
- The fulfillment of learning, of seeing how God is redeeming this broken world,
- Contributing content for the TAW, both creating new items and revising current items,
- The freedom of working with a Spirit-led group not dominated by a forceful leader,
- Creating knowledge together of how the Christian life is to be experienced as the good life,
- An insurance policy to cover any liabilities our board members may incur,
- Opportunities for compensation by the board for their products, or for their services,
- Having their own and colleagues’ work considered for publication on the website, and
- Safe quarterly board meetings, with either virtual attendance or careful distancing.
17. What else would the board of directors do?
The board is being called together to network with other human resources. They will exercise ownership and management of the TAW, and of the website. Our Creative Commons Copyright allows anyone to use the test in their own research, even adding other items to it, as long as they credit our work and share their data with us. To encourage extension and wider publication of all this research, it will all be shared with the public for free on openresearch.org. Initially the board will need to raise funding and donated resources for:
- Technical assistance to streamline the online test, collect its incoming data, translate raw scores to percentiles, and establish test reliability and validity, all using the free and secure software platform PSPP from the Free Software Foundation for nonprofits; and
- Social and traditional media promotion to interest more people in taking the TAW for personal wellness, once it’s in its final form.
Then in the next phase we’ll be
- Performing research with the data that will compare our findings to the results of previous studies, generate articles in professional journals and mainstream periodicals, and fulfill the purposes of WELL above (including before and after studies showing how taking the TAW with feedback affects health), and
- Organizational networking to make professional organizations (counselors, life coaches, pastors) and institutions (businesses, schools, denominations, churches) aware of how they can benefit from using the TAW, plus our website and research.
18. What longer term goals does WELL have?
Later, in Phase 3, WELL would be
- demonstrating increased wellness with individuals and groups who use the TAW,
- discovering groups and lifestyles which show particular signs of holistic health and illness,
- publishing our findings in professional journals, conventions, and traditional media,
- planning educational and media events to promote the experience of wellness,
- teaching professionals (therapists, pastoral counselors, life coaches) how to use the TAW,
- seeking business, nonprofit, and university partners in wellness promotion & research, and
- conducting other research to fulfill the purposes of WELL given above, to the glory of God.
19. Is the ball already rolling on some of these things?
Dr. Schmidt has been working on all things on his own for seven years, without funding or assistance. His research with the CAS has been reported at the conventions of several different organizations, and in several different professional journals. He has been giving away to his clients and the public what he has been learning through his blog on the website he maintains, mynewlife.com, and his podcast, brainfood.libsyn.com. He has written the items and scoring protocols for the TAW, and has secured the website domain for to-the-well.org. Now to go far instead of fast, he’s being led to let a new generation put their own marks on this project, and take it on into the future. Here’s what could be done within a year by a few skilled contributors if we find a university research partner, or if it is underwritten by a grant for some $40,000:
- revising definitions of basic scales for interdisciplinary agreement with historical concepts,
- doing item revision to change items that don’t correlate with TAW scale and total scores,
- establishing norms for all 47 scales of the TAW: means and standard deviations of all scales (dependent variables) and demographic factors (independent variables),
- using the hosting platform PSPP to render scores immediately as percentiles,
- establishing the reliability of the TAW by achieving and demonstrating internal consistency, and test-retest reliability,
- managing a new website offering free wellness experiences and resources, and finally,
- establishing the validity of the TAW by doing factor analysis, demonstrating predictive validity, correlating it with other established wellness measures, and correlating it with reported wellness on the 14 demographic variables.
20. In brief summary, what is the market niche of the TAW?
Seven Reasons why the TAW is
Needed and will be Widely Used
- There is now no widely accepted model for wellness, and there is no good way to measure it.
- The need for more comprehensive wellness tools is huge and growing, especially for ones that are easily understood.
- This model has both staying power (4000 years) and face validity (it measures things we all talk about).
- The TAW has particular appeal for pastoral counselors, 12-steppers, life coaches, and HR departments seeking healthier workplaces. [All 12-steppers are supposed to “take inventory” of the seven deadly sins, but virtually nobody feels they know how to do it.]
- Our society needs access to sound yet understandable research on the nature of holistic wellness and illness, and their causes and effects.
- Depending on the audience being addressed, these concepts can be taught in several “languages”: using biblical traditions, social science, 12-step recovery, and/or stories from everyday life.
- The TAW will have an evangelistic outreach: some nonbelievers will be looking for more guidance and strength to grow in wellness. Some of these will be led into knowing the Bible as a teaching tool, some into knowing believers, and some at last into knowing the Lord Himself.