PERSONAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS IN EXPERIENCED STRESS AMONG COUNSELORS

DAVID LEO PENDERGAST, Fordham University

Abstract

The study sought to determine the extent to which experienced stress among counselors can be predicted from two clusters of predictor variables: (1) environmental factors associated with the job, including role ambiguity, role conflict, and workload; and (2) individual counselor personality characteristics, including defenses and psychological competence. A sample of 132 master's level counselors working in agency settings completed a survey instrument containing five measures: role conflict and ambiguity were measured by the Role Questionnaire; workload was assessed by a self-report questionnaire; psychological defenses were assessed using the ten defense scales of the California Psychological Inventory developed by Joffe and Naditch; psychological competence was measured by Tyler's Behavioral Attributes of Psychosocial Competence test; and stress was measured by Farber's Psychotherapist Attitude Scale.^ A K-means clustering procedure applied to the defense and psychological competence scales suggested that counselors can be classified according to personality characteristics as falling into one of three groups: (1) "doubters" were characterized by high scores on the defenses of doubt and displacement and by relatively low scores on psychological competence; (2) "competents" were high on competence and on the defenses of denial and reaction formation, but were low on doubt; and (3) "undefended" counselors were very low on both competence and psychological defenses.^ Subsequent analyses demonstrated that doubters were significantly higher than other counselors on depersonalization, a dimension of stress assessed by the PAS. Role Conflict and Role Ambiguity were correlated positively (p $<$.01 to p $<$.001) with all three dimensions of stress measured by the PAS: depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and lack of professional accomplishment. Psychological competence was correlated negatively (p $<$.05 to p $<$.001) with the three stress measures.^ In depth interviews were conducted with three counselors from each of the three personality groups. Findings suggested the need for inservice education programs for counselors, quality supportive supervision, and efforts to improve the status and work conditions of counselors. ^

Subject Area

School counseling

Recommended Citation

PENDERGAST, DAVID LEO, "PERSONAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS IN EXPERIENCED STRESS AMONG COUNSELORS" (1987). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8725686.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8725686

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