The Effects of Counselor Trainee Stress and Coping Resources on the Working Alliance and Supervisory Working Alliance
Counselor trainees’ stress and coping resources have the potential to influence the relationships formed with supervisors and clients. Two hundred thirty two (N = 232) Master-level counselor trainees completed surveys designed to measure perceived stress, coping resources, the working alliance, and the supervisory working alliance. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire, the Working Alliance Inventory – Short Form Therapist Version (WAI-S; Tracey & Kokotovic, 1989), the Supervisory Working Alliance Inventory – Trainee Version (SWAI-T; Efstation, Patton, & Kardash, 1990), the Perceived Stress Scale – Short Form (PSS; Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983), and the Coping Resources Inventory for Stress – Short Form (CRIS; Curlette & Matheny, 2008). The working alliance was negatively correlated with Perceived Stress (r = -.25, p < .01) and positively correlated with the coping resources Situational Control, (r = .23, p < .01), Emotional Control (r = .18, p = .01), Social Support From Family (r = .19, p < .01), Mental Tension Control (r = .18, p < .01), and Making Plans (r = .15, p < .05). The supervisory working alliance was negatively correlated with Perceived Stress (r = -.23, p < .01) and positively correlated with the coping resources Situational Control (r = .17, p < .01), Emotional Control (r = .18, p < .01), Social Support From Friends (r = .14, p < .05), Mental Tension Control (r = .22, p < .01), Asserting One’s Rights (r = .13, p < .05), and Trusting Oneself (r = .14, p < .05). After controlling for the primary internship setting, Stress (∆R2 = .055, â = -.21, p < .001) and Social Support from Family (∆R2 = .021, â = -.21, p < .025) explained 7.6% of the variance in the working alliance, F (10, 221) = 3.71, p < .001. After controlling for the number of counseling sessions and total number of weekly individual counseling hours, Perceived Stress (∆R2 = .047, â = -.14, p < .10) and Situational Control (∆R2 = .026, â = .18, p < .025) explained 7.3% of the variance in the supervisory working alliance, F (4, 170) = 7.73, p < .001. Implications for counselor training and implications for research are discussed.