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Melody Weber, L. Mickey Fenzel, Ph.D.

Relationships among Spirituality, Self-Care and Wellness in Masters-Level Counseling Students

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In this pilot study, the researcher conducted a quantitative study to explore the relationship between self-care, spirituality and wellness for masters-level counseling students. Theoretical perspectives lend support to the supposition that practicing self-care supports overall wellness, and clinical training and research to date have explored this view through a focus on the potential positive impact of particular self-care behaviors (Colman et al., year). However, no known quantitative studies have examined whether general self-care practice actually does positively impact overall wellness for counseling students. This present study was designed to address this current gap in the literature. In addition, the role of spirituality in this relationship is also of interest. Spiritual practices in particular have frequently been explored for their potential self-care benefit for counselors and counseling students (e.g. Blair, 2015; Graham, Furr, Flowers, & Burke, 2011; Morse et al., 2012; Osborn, Street, & Bradham-cousar, 2012), and spirituality has also been identified as a component of Wellness (Myers, Sweeney, & Witmer, 2000). Current understandings of spirituality go beyond just the practices involved, and current quantitative measures operationalize spirituality in different ways. Spiritual transcendence, which identifies spirituality as an intrinsic source of motivation, and sanctification of work, which explores the extent to which individuals view their work as connected to the sacred, were included to explore the role of spirituality in contributing to overall wellness (Pargament & Mahoney, 2005; Piedmont, Ciarrochi, Dy-Liacco, and Williams, 2009). Based on the literature reviewed, it was hypothesized that spiritual transcendence, sanctification of work, and self-care would each uniquely and positively contribute to counseling students’ overall wellness, and that self-care would mediate the relationship between sanctification of work and overall wellness in counseling students.

Convenience sampling was utilized in this study. Emails including the link to an online questionnaire were distributed to counseling program faculty members at various universities across the United States. Faculty members were asked to pass the link along to their students with the invitation to participate in the research. The link and recruitment request was also publically posted on the researcher’s personal social media pages, and this post was shared by various contacts on social media on their own pages as well.
The impact of self-care and spirituality on wellness were explored through multiple regression and mediation analyses. Preliminary findings indicate support for the hypothesis that self-care and sanctification of work each contribute uniquely to wellness scores, when controlling for the impact of personality and other spirituality variables. Spiritual Transcendence was not found to significantly contribute to overall wellness for this sample. The hypothesis that self-care would mediate the relationship between sanctification of work and wellness was also not supported. Implications, limitations and directions for future research and practice will also be explored.

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