Date of Award

1-10-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Catharina Y. Chang, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Greg Brack, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Don E. Davis, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Philip B. Gnilka, Ph.D.

Abstract

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP, 2009) defines a counseling student’s internship as the “capstone” experience in his or her training (p. 60), and the importance and value of the counseling internship experience has been established in the literature (Bernard & Goodyear, 2004; Gibson et al., 2010; Gnilka et al., 2012). However, despite all of its benefits, the masters-level internship process itself can pose several stressful challenges for the counseling intern, specifically “peripheral stressors”. Peripheral stressors refer to those stressful challenges or issues that counseling students face outside of counseling sessions and beyond client work. The purpose of this study was to assess counseling interns’ perceived peripheral stressors when completing their masters-level internship. Research questions included: What are the student-perceived peripheral stressors when completing a masters-level counseling internship? How stressful are these challenges to counseling interns, if at all? Do students in CACREP recommended internship structures experience various stressors differently than students in longer internship structures? Is there a difference in the effect of stressors among demographic groups?

A survey was developed and distributed in Qualtrics survey software. The survey was used to identify counseling interns’ perceived peripheral stressors as they relate to the counseling internship, and determine how stressful these challenges are to interns, if at all. The results indicated that some peripheral stressors experienced by interns could be considered “a concern” or “problematic.” Further, an exploratory factor analysis was conducted, resulting in the peripheral stressors being appropriately grouped into six common or underlying dimensions: Deficient Training Experience at Internship Site, Struggles with University Supervisor, Internship Site Selection Process, Personal Wellness and Financial Strain, Meeting CACREP Requirements, and Issues with Internship Site Personnel. The factor scores were then used to compare peripheral stressors in internship across internship structures and other demographic groups through analysis of variance and t-tests. Certain groups of students, including but not limited those employed outside of their counseling internship and those that must find and secure their own internship site, perceived more stress in some of the peripheral stressor factors than other counseling interns.

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