Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Marie-Christine Goodworth, PhD

Second Advisor

Rodger Bufford, PhD


It has been observed in prior studies that student spiritual engagement and attribution tends to decline throughout graduate clinical training in psychology (Eisele, 2016; Fisk et al., 2013). This is problematic considering the inverse relationship between spirituality and stress (Calicchia & Graham, 2006) and the protection it provides against burnout. Also protective against burnout, and correlated with spirituality, is Emotional Intelligence (EI; Kaur, Sambasivan, & Kumar, 2013). Both EI and spirituality are related to lower burnout, less depression, and greater life-satisfaction (Kroska et al., 2017). Despite burnout being a common experience for graduate students in medical school (Amir, Kumari, Olivetta, & Mansoor, 2018; Kroska et al., 2017), few studies have considered possible underlying risk or protective factors against burnout among graduate students. This study evaluated the possible roles EI and spirituality may play in student burnout in 76 doctoral clinical psychology students. All but 1 of the 76 students who participated reported experiencing at least some symptoms of burnout over the course of their studies, though most did not reach a critical risk level. However, students who scored higher on both measures of EI and spirituality reported lower than average levels of burnout symptoms. EI had a large effect size in predicting group membership, while spirituality had a moderate effect size in predicting group membership. The two groups differed significantly in degree of burnout symptoms. Other studies’ findings that spirituality was lower in more advanced cohorts than in lower cohorts (Eisele, 2016; Fisk et al., 2013) were not replicated in this study; rather scores were significantly higher for more advanced cohorts, raising the possibility that prior studies may have found cohort differences rather than developmental changes. This study’s findings suggest that graduate clinical training programs may wish to increase their focus on enhancing student EI and spirituality as a way to improve clinical training, decrease student burnout, and minimize deleterious student training experiences.