Counseling Psychology Trainees' Experiences With Debt Stress: A Mixed Methods Examination

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Abstract

Financial debt accrued by graduate psychology students has increased in recent years and is a chief concern among psychology trainees (El-Ghoroury, Galper, Sawaqdeh, & Bufka, 2012). This study examined debt stress among counseling psychology trainees using a complementary mixed methods research design. Qualitative analyses (N = 11) using the consensual qualitative research method (CQR; Hill, Thompson, & Williams, 1997; Hill et al., 2005) revealed six domains, 15 categories, and 34 subcategories. Domains included social class contributions, institutional contributions, long-term effects, coping mechanisms, personal relationships, and effect on well-being. The transactional model of stress and coping (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) and social class worldview model (Liu, Soleck, Hopps, Dunston, & Pickett, 2004) guided quantitative analyses. Results of a path analysis (N = 285) indicated total debt and subjective social class were significant predictors of debt stress and that the relationship between debt stress and psychological distress was mediated by avoidant coping. Avoidant coping also moderated the association between debt stress and psychological distress. Results are discussed in relation to professional training and the career development of counseling psychology trainees.

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