The Effects of Brief Counseling Associated with Coursework on Distress in Students

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Matthew Genuchi


During the past decade, the psychological stressors experienced by college students have shifted from historically low levels to currently notable, high levels (Kitzrow, 2003). The major factors that underlie distress in many students are pressures to succeed, achieve, and a desire for perfection in all aspects of academics (Klibert et. al, 2014). The problematic physical and psychological consequences of such increasing pressures include anxiety, depression, alcohol abuse, and poor sleeping habits (Graceffo et al. 2012).

Since college students are at risk for psychological distress, they are also in need of intervention. Counseling significantly alleviates distress-related symptoms in students (Brunner et al., 2014). While a number of established options for support exist, many students may not seek out counseling services due to stigmas associated with mental illness (Corrigan, 2004).

The purpose of our study was to understand the symptoms of a non-treatment seeking population of college students, and the effects of brief, low-risk counseling. We investigated this by measuring a range of DSM-5 symptoms in students receiving counseling. We hypothesized that counseling would significantly reduce the severity of participants’ anxiety and depression. We secondly hypothesized that participants would report lower overall levels of psychological distress after receiving counseling.

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