Date Awarded

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Charles R. McAdams

Committee Member

Victoria A. Foster

Committee Member

Thomas J. Ward

Committee Member

Charles R. McAdams


Abstract Counseling students in CACREP-accredited counseling programs are facing a compound form of stress which is comprised of both academic and clinical stressors, and is negatively impacting their mental health. The current approaches for promoting their psychological wellbeing and mitigating the negative effects of stress (i.e., self-care strategies) seem to fail to consider the differences between students’ psychological resources and how students are benefiting from them in coping with stressors. Unlike the current approaches, the construct of psychological capital (PsyCap) that has been operationalized as individuals’ level of hope, optimism, self-efficacy and resilience, does recognize the differences in how individuals perceive and cope with stress. Given the uniqueness of the training stressors for counseling students, their vulnerability to those stressors, and the importance of their effectiveness in working with clients, the present study sought to explore the relationships among PsyCap, academic and clinical stress, and mental health in a national sample of 216 masters-level counseling students in CACREP-accredited counseling programs. The results of this study indicated that counseling students with higher levels of PsyCap reported experiencing lower levels of academic and clinical stress and higher levels of mental health. Additionally, the findings identified PsyCap as a predictive variable for participants’ mental health, and revealed that the positive effects of PsyCap were partially mediated by participants’ perceived academic stress. The outcome of this study provides insight into understanding the issue of stress and self-care for counseling students, and offers implications for counselor educators and practitioners. Keywords: psychological capital, PsyCap, self-care, counseling students, academic stress, clinical stress, CACREP




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