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Black, Linda L.

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This study represents the initial attempt to create an emergent theory of how counseling students cope with the stress and anxiety inherent in a live supervised individual practicum from CACREP accredited training programs. This research followed the qualitative research traditions surrounding emergent theory creation and involved nine participant masters’ students throughout the entire practicum semester. This study found 16 themes separated into three categories. Sources of anxiety: (a) anticipatory anxiety and fear, (b) meeting obligations outside of practicum, (c) interpersonal conflicts, (d) the live supervision environment, and (e) feedback. Modifiers and influencers of stress and anxiety: (a) practicum social environment, (b) need for perfectionism, (c) trait anxiety, and (d) previous experiences. Coping strategies used by students: (a) support, (b) effective supervision, (c) positive attitude change, (d) self-care interventions, (e) blaming, (f) catharsis, and (g) foreclosure or no coping. The emergent theory consists of six coping dimensions that every practicum student must navigate. Each of the dimensions are anchored and defined by a continuum of coping effectiveness: poor, moderate, and excellent. The six coping dimensions are: (a) personal characteristics, (b) interpersonal characteristics, (c) group interactions, (d) emotions, (e) cognitions, and (f) use and understanding of coping skills. The final component of the emergent theory are three coping trajectories that help to explain individual student's pathways throughout the practicum semester, with regard to the coping dimensions. These coping trajectories are: effective, inconsistently effective, and ineffective. Recommendations for counselor educators and supervisors include creating a formal student self-care plan, the addition of a pre-practicum skills class, and group stress relieving activities for students.


Anxiety, Stress, Coping, Live supervision, Counseling Ssudents, Counselor education, Emergent theory


165 pages

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