Stress, Burnout, and Experiential Avoidance in Clinical Psychology Doctoral Students
Research has shown that clinical psychology doctoral students experience stress and burnout, with attempts to moderate their experience utilizing various coping skills. The current study aimed to expand the literature on stress and burnout in clinical psychology doctoral students and the impact of experiential avoidance as a coping style. The current study surveyed clinical psychology doctoral students on their integration of experiential avoidance, as well as various coping styles, to mitigate stress and burnout. COVID-19 data and descriptive statistics were gathered as well. A correlational analysis and dependent sample t-test were conducted to understand the relationships between variables. The results from the study supported five out of the six hypotheses. The more experiential avoidance students engaged in, the higher their perceived stress and burnout scores. The higher levels of perceived stress, the higher levels of burnout. With respect to approach and avoidant coping styles, those with avoidant coping had higher levels of perceived stress, while those with approach coping showed no significant relationship with perceived stress. The results also suggested that self-care was reported to have increased due to COVID-19. The study calls for clinical psychology doctoral students and clinical psychology doctoral programs to practice and implement coping strategies, such as psychological flexibility, rather than avoidant strategies which may result in increased stress and clinical and academic burnout. Future studies may benefit from taking into account for particular coping styles and which are efficacious, as well as a specific look at multicultural factors.