Repressive defensiveness in masters level psychology students: Implications for practice

Nilufer E Barbour, Tennessee State University


The purpose of this study was to explore the proposition that people may become psychotherapists because they wish to resolve their own emotional issues. It was considered that personality, and thus defensive style and specifically repressor dynamics, might influence a career choice in psychotherapy, and psychotherapeutic orientation. Data was collected from masters level counseling psychology students and from masters level students from non-health related fields, from two regional public universities located in the southern and midwestern United States. Repressive defensiveness was measured according to widely used, valid, and reliable instruments. Statistical analysis included multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) for investigating interrelationships among variables related to repressive-defensiveness and a series of Chi-square tests to delineate differences in expected and observed values between groups on variables such as repressor status, therapeutic style, reporting of distress, and engagement in personal psychotherapy. Results indicated that there was a repressive defensive trend among counseling psychology students. There was also an overall preference for a cognitive behavioral modality in terms of psychotherapeutic style. Most students reported never having experienced personal psychotherapy. However, the results seem to be dependent on the counseling program. For instance, those students who had personal psychotherapy came almost entirely from one university sample, which also showed a preference for a more dynamic style of psychotherapy. Based on the results, suggestions were made for future research.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Nilufer E Barbour, "Repressive defensiveness in masters level psychology students: Implications for practice" (2004). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3127543.