Developing purpose as a psychosocial task related to college students' perceived tendency to seek help from counseling centers

No Thumbnail Available
Backels, Kelsey Kime
Gerstein, Lawrence H.
Issue Date
Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of Counseling Psychology and Guidance Services
Other Identifiers

This study examined the relationship between college students' level of "developing purpose" as a psychosocial task and their tendency to seek help from a professional counselor at a university counseling center for a variety of personal and vocational concerns. Chickering's (1969) theory of college student development provided the theoretical basis for this study. The association between students' sex, educational status and type of problem, and their tendency to seek help was also investigated. Finally, this project explored students' likelihood of seeking help from persons other than professional counselors. Students' level of "developing purpose" was measured by the Student Developmental Task and Lifestyle Inventory (Winston, Miller, & Prince, 1987), while their tendency to seek help was assessed by the Tendency to Seek Help scale (Tinsley, de St. Aubin, & Brown, 1982).Preliminary analyses revealed a connection between previous counseling experience and students' tendency to seek help; therefore, data from 180 respondents reporting no previous counseling experience were used to test the hypotheses. The main analyses involved a 2 x 2 x 2 fully crossed fixed effects MANOVA design where the variables were sex, educational status, and level of "developing purpose." The dependent variables were respondents' rankings for seeking assistance from a professional counselor for personal and career concerns. Each effect was tested having first controlled for all other effects at or below the effect level. Friedman's analysis of variance were also employed to examine respondents' rankings of their perceived tendency to seek help for personal and career problems. Results indicated that there was no significant relationship between students' level of "developing purpose," sex, or educational status and their tendency to seek help. Based on a t-test, however, results suggested that students perceived themselves as more likely to seek help from a professional counselor for personal as compared to vocational concerns.Supplementary analyses revealed that, in general, participants were more likely to seek help from close friends and relatives than any other potential helpers for all personal problems. In contrast, assistance with career problems would most likely be sought from academic advisors,instructors, close friends and relatives. Implications of the findings and suggestions for future research, including a more comprehensive study of Chickering's (1969) theory of student development are offered.