Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Resilience in clinical and counseling graduate students was examined as a tripartite construct consisting of personality, coping, and psychological functioning in a structural equation model. Specifically, five personality traits were included as predictors of coping and psychological functioning, and coping served as a predictor of psychological functioning. Three hundred and nine graduate students in clinical and counseling psychology programs participated in an online questionnaire survey consisting of self-report instruments measuring the five-factor model of personality, coping, social support, depression, anxiety, wellbeing, and burnout. In the best fitting model, conscientiousness was a positive predictor of coping and a negative predictor psychological functioning, neuroticism negatively predicted coping, and openness to new experiences positively predicted coping. Extraversion and agreeableness were not significant predictors of coping or psychological functioning in the structural equation model. The goal of the study was to better understand the relationships between personality, coping, and psychological functioning as well as contribute to the empirical data on the functioning of graduate students in clinical and counseling psychology. The results suggest that there are certain characteristics that may be more important for graduate students and their mentors and supervisors to be aware of to increase the wellbeing of graduate students and protect against burnout and other stress related problems later in their careers. For example, conscientiousness positively predicted coping, yet negatively predicted psychological functioning, suggesting that high levels of conscientiousness could be problematic if the student is over-extended academically. Future work in this area might productively focus on examining more comprehensive and complex models of resilience, utilizing additional personality constructs and variables for a clearer idea of resilience in both psychology graduate students as well as other populations.
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