Emotional stress and coping strategies in South African clinical and counselling psychologists
This study aimed to explore psychologists' emotional stress levels, as manifested in anxiety and depression, their coping strategies, and the relationship between stress and coping strategies. A stratified random sample of 238 South African clinical and counselling psychologists completed internet surveys that Included a biographical questionnaire, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), and the Brief Coping Orientations to Problems Experienced (Brief COPE). According to category cut-off points in the manuals, results indicated that 56.3% of participants reported above average anxiety levels, while 54.2% were mildly depressed. A combination of the coping strategies of self-blame, behavioural disengagement, denial, a lack of humour, self-distraction, a lack of acceptance, venting, and substance use significantly predicted anxiety, A combination of substance use, self-blame, self-distraction, denial, and a lack of seeking instrumental support significantly predicted depression. The results suggest that South African psychologists fall to manage their emotional stress as manifested in depressive and anxiety symptoms. A coping programme for South African psychologists in practice and training is recommended. In addition, psychologists are encouraged to nurture their emotional health through psychotherapy and support groups. The limitations of sampling in terms of possible psychological sophistication and self-selection, as well as the need to further differentiate the work settings of psychologists, are discussed. © Psychological Society of South Africa. All rights reserved.