Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Psychology

First Advisor

Alexandru Cuc

Second Advisor

Jennifer Davidtz

Third Advisor

Barry A. Schneider


early memories test, illusory mental health, psychological defensiveness, psychotherapy for psychotherapists, therapists in training, trainees attitudes toward seeking psychotherapy


The current study investigated whether psychologically-defensive clinicians-in-training were more resistant to engaging in personal therapy while pursuing a graduate degree in a mental health discipline. Participants were selected from graduate level mental health counseling and clinical psychology programs. Three groups were of interest: ‘manifestly distressed’ (MD), who report high levels of subjective distress; ‘illusory mental health’ (IMH), defined as individuals who report low levels of subjective distress but are identified by the Early Memories Test (EMT) as defensive; and ‘genuine mental health’ (GMH) individuals, rated as non-defensive on the EMT while reporting low subjective distress levels. The following measures were used to assess for the variables of interest: the Early Memory Index, the Trainees’ Attitudes Toward Seeking Psychotherapy Scale, and the Subjective Distress Scale. Findings included equally high ratings on the TATSPS among each of the three mental health groups and a substantial number of treatment hours reported by each of the three groups. Compared to GMH participants, IMH and MD participants attended significantly more hours of personal therapy, and mental health grouping influenced treatment seeking over and above the influence of attitudes measured with the TATSPS.

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