Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Mary Peterson, PhD

Second Advisor

Luann Foster, PsyD

Third Advisor

Nathan Engle, PsyD


Burnout among health professionals had been increasing over the last decade, but amidst the global impact of COVID-19, burnout has contributed to a national health care crisis (Bednar, 2019; Sklar et al., 2021). Due to increased demand and patient acuity, entry-level mental health professionals (MHPs) in acute settings are specifically at risk (Morse et al., 2012; Simpson et al., 2018). Moreover, unique variables related to personality disposition and emotional vulnerability from trauma can create a predisposition for burnout (Alarcon et al., 2009). This study explored the impacts of personality and emotional awareness curriculum on managing stress amidst crisis work and minimizing burnout. This study used the Big Five Inventory-2-Short Form (BFI-2-S) personality measure and curriculum in the context of a semester long graduate level course that included emotional awareness training, stress-management strategies, and peer-to-peer process groups, to explore if clinical psychology doctoral students at a private university could increase emotional awareness and applicable stress management skills. The intervention group participated in the 15-week course, was tested pre- and post-intervention and at 4 month follow-up of work in rural emergency departments using the Difficulty in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS-18) and Emotional Self Awareness Scale (ESAS) and a qualitative questionnaire to assess for long-term efficacy. Results showed statistically significant differences in the total score of the ESAS, and in subdomains for Contextualization and Decision-Making with small to very large effect sizes. However, the changes were in the opposite direction than hypothesized. It appears that students reported more confidence in their emotional self-awareness at the beginning of the intervention than at the conclusion. We failed to find a significant difference in participants’ ability to regulate difficulty emotions (DERS-18) and yielded only small to no effect size. The paired sample t-test comparing subjective reports found statistically significant increase in their confidence to manage emotions with a large effect size between T1 and T2. A repeated measures ANOVA failed to find significant difference, suggesting that changes between T2 and T3 were not retained. Although not statistically significant, results showed a moderate effect size in their confidence to maintain the use of the coping strategies.