The psychological adaptation of psychologists in clinical training : the role of cognition, coping and social support.
Objectives: The current study sought to profile the psychological adaptation of psychologists in
clinical training and examine the extent to which appraisal, coping and social support mediate
and/or moderate psychological adaptation.
Design: A mixed within-persons and between-persons design was used.
Methods: A sample of 183 psychologists in clinical training (60.2 per cent response rate) from
15 British clinical psychology training courses participated at time one, 167 of whom participated
at time two one year later (91.3 per cent of the time one sample). They completed measures of
cognition, coping and social support. A multidimensional assessment of psychological adaptation
included measures of perceived stress, anxiety and depression.
Results: Trainee clinical psychologists reported high levels of stress, but as a group did not
experience extensive problems of psychological adaptation in terms of anxiety, depression, selfesteem
problems, marital problems, family problems, external stressors, interpersonal conflict,
work adjustment or substance abuse. However, a significant subgroup reported self-esteem
problems, work adjustment problems, depression and anxiety. Gender, age, year of training and
training course were related to psychological adaptation. Appraisal processes, coping and social
support predicted a significant amount of variation in psychological adaptation. Appraisals of
threat, avoidance coping, emotional support from clinical supervisors, emotional support from
courses and emotional support from a confidante at home all predicted the variance in
psychological adaptation over time.
Conclusions and implications: The findings were discussed in terms of a cognitive model of
stress and adaptation. Implications for trainee clinical psychologists, training courses and the
clinical psychology profession were considered.