Author

Jung H. Hyun

Date of Award

8-17-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Catherine Y. Chang, Ph.D. - Chair

Second Advisor

Gregory L. Brack, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Henry G. McMahon, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Catherine J. Brack, Ph.D.

Abstract

The growing literature on the impact of doctoral programs on marriages has identified four major areas of concern: financial difficulties, change of lifestyle, lack of time, and communication issues (Bergen & Bergen, 1978; Cao, 2001; Giles, 1983; Middleton, 2001; Norton, Thomas, Morgan, Tilley, & Dickins, 1998; Williams, 1977). In addition, Looney, Harding, Blotcky and Branhart (1980) found that psychotherapists were more likely to have marital discord and failure in their marriages than in the general population. Moreover, studies have shown that female doctoral students reported more stress compared to male students (Mallinckrodt, Leong, & Kralj, 1989). With the recognition that marital conflicts are a significant indicator for lower persistent rates for married graduate students, it is critical to examine how married counseling doctoral students cope with their marital conflicts during the program. Following a constructionist philosophical stance, this exploratory study examined how married female counseling doctoral students cope with marital conflicts during their program using a phenomenological method approach. Fourteen married female counseling doctoral students in the development of competence stage of their program of study (Bowen & Rudenstine, 1992; Lovitts, 2001) were interviewed, and 13 interviews were analyzed in a recursive manner. The findings indicated that female counseling doctoral students utilized both couple-focused coping strategies and individual-focused coping strategies to balance two distinct lives, school and marriage. In addition, the participants identified a solid marriage, their husband’s support, cohort’s support, and other married couples’ support as coping strategies for maintaining balance between school and marriage. Factors that might influence coping strategies of married female counseling doctoral students are discussed. Implications for counselors and recommendations for future research are discussed.

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