Monthly Archives: September 2010

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Separation-Individuation and Coping

This topic investigated how college adjustment was influenced by the level of separation-individuation and problem-focused coping strategies of freshmen students. Independent variables included Problem-focused Coping (measured by the Adolescent-Coping Orientation for Problem focused Experiences), Positive Separation Feelings from parents (measured by the Conflictual Independence subscale of the Psychological Separation Inventory and the Separation-Individuation Test of Adolescence), and Independence from Parents (measured by the Functional, Attitudinal, and Emotional Independence subscales of the Psychological Separation Inventory); the dependent variable was college adjustment (measured by the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire). College freshmen (n = 87) from a mid-sized southeastern university in the United States completed the scales at the end of their first year.

A path analysis using an ordinary least squares regression approach indicated that Freshmen students with higher Positive Separation Feelings and Problem-focused Coping strategies reported higher college adjustment. Also, the path analysis showed no direct effect of Independence from Parents on College Adjustment. However, there was a moderate indirect effect (through Problem-focused Coping) on college adjustment. Additional analyses revealed a significant multivariate effect for gender and parents’ marital status. Separate path analyses indicated that higher Independence from Parents was associated with lower Problem-focused Coping for both genders. Also, females and males who scored higher on Positive Separation Feelings from parents tended to report higher levels of college adjustment. Problem-focused Coping was a significant predictor of college adjustment significant predictor of adjustment for males only.

Results suggested that counseling interventions addressing ways to manage feelings about separating from home and the degree of independence from parents could be implemented to help freshmen resolve developmental tasks and, in turn, adjust better to college. In addition, programs that teach problem-focused coping strategies could be designed which help freshmen develop the resources needed to cope with the various college adjustment difficulties that arise, and thus reduce the number of students who fail to complete college.