"Putting My Best Self Forward:" An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Self-Care Among Graduate Students in Applied Psychology
Wachs, Brent R.
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Unmanaged personal and professional stress has been identified as having deleterious effects on the physical and psychological health of professionals working in the field of applied psychology. A result of increased awareness of practitioner stress within the field has led to a growing body of literature promoting self-care and wellness among this population, reinforcing the value of self-care approaches as a means of ensuring personal and professional wellness and vitality. While self-care is increasingly recognized as a valuable component of well-being in the field of psychology, research on self-care among graduate students in applied psychology remains relatively limited. The current study provided a means to examine the self-care experiences of graduate students in applied psychology in managing personal, academic, or work-related stress. Five graduate students of an applied psychology program ranging in age from 28 to 47 years, participated in this study. Data were collected through individual interviews which were analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith & Osborn, 2009). Two super-ordinate themes emerged: Self-Care: A Composition of Layers with the sub-themes Recognizing Vulnerability, Prioritizing Self, Paradigm Shift, and Laying the Foundation; and Challenges of Self-Care: Obstacles to Prioritizing and Maintaining Self-Care with the sub-themes Time Poverty, and Guilt. The themes describe the self-care experiences of the students, highlighting the vulnerability of graduate students in applied psychology to stress, support the importance of intentionally taking time for self to address self-care needs, reinforce the value of engaging in approaches helpful in combatting stress and promoting optimal functioning, and draw attention to the challenges that come with incorporating a lifestyle of self-care during graduate school. Considerations for research and practice are identified.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
DepartmentEducational Psychology and Special Education
ProgramSchool and Counselling Psychology
CommitteeHellsten, Laurie; Walker, Keith; Mousavi, Amin
Copyright DateJune 2020