Author ORCID Identifier

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Beth Boyd


In general, graduate students experience unhealthy stress levels throughout their graduate careers. Clinical psychology doctoral students experience additional stressors related to intensive training in providing psychological-related services to clients. There is a gap in the literature in understanding how clinical psychology doctoral students with a personal history of mental health effectively navigate highly stressful graduate programs. This dissertation explored the experiences of clinical psychology Ph.D. students who 1) have a history of mental health diagnoses and 2) experience current psychological distress as they manage educational/training demands and administer psychological interventions to clients. A phenomenological qualitative approach was utilized to fully capture the essence of participants’ lived experiences. Data for the study was collected through individual semi-structured interviews. Transcriptions of the interviews underwent a rigorous coding process to determine the study results. Findings were delivered as overall themes that described the participants' lived experiences. There were five overall themes: Heavy Emotional Experiences, Advisor/Mentor, Disclosure, Unique Relationships with Psychotherapy, and Resiliency. Recommendations for interventions and strategies to support this population are discussed.


clinical psychology, clinical psychology graduate students, graduate students, mental health, psychopathology

Number of Pages



University Of South Dakota



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