Advisor(s) - Committee Chair
Dr. Frederick Grieve (Director), Dr. Eric Manley, Dr. Elizabeth Jones
Department of Psychology
Master of Arts
The goal of the present study was to examine the relationships between college students with prior therapy and psychotropic drug experience and total number of therapy sessions. This study also investigated specific types of medications students were taking and total number of therapy sessions attended. The first hypothesis under investigation was that students who have received therapy prior to beginning treatment would remain in therapy significantly longer than participants who have received no prior therapy. It was also hypothesized that students who were prescribed psychotropic medications prior to beginning therapy will remain in therapy significantly longer than students who were taking no psychotropic medications. Lastly, it was hypothesized that students who reported taking anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications would stay in therapy longer than students taking other types of psychotropic medications will. Participants (n = 279) were collected from a pre-existing database and included students who received therapeutic services from a Southern university whose population comprised 18,485 students. The first two hypotheses were evaluated using a 2 (Prior Therapy: Yes vs. No) x 2 (Prior Medication: Yes vs. No) Analysis of Variance (ANOVA). The third hypothesis was analyzed using a 2 (Antidepressant Medication: Yes vs. No) x 2 (Anxiolytic Medication: Yes vs. No) x 2 (Other Psychotropic Medications: Yes vs. No) ANOVA.
Results supported hypothesis 1: students who have previously attended therapy will stay in therapy significantly longer than students with no prior therapy experience F (1, 275) = 6.65, p = .01). However, findings did not support either hypotheses 2 or 3: students who were taking psychotropic medications prior to entering therapy did not stay in therapy significantly longer than students who were not taking psychotropic medications prior to therapy, regardless of type of medication.
Results of the present study are important, as they provide a basis for future research examining prior college student therapy and psychotropic medication experience and duration of treatment at campus counseling centers. Additionally, results suggest that students with prior exposure to therapy stay in therapy longer than students with no prior exposure to therapy. One explanation for this finding is that students with prior therapy experience are likely more familiar, and more comfortable, with the therapy process than those with no prior experience. In turn, they stay in treatment longer. Universities and campus counseling centers may consider providing students with information about mental health and therapy, as this finding and research suggests that students with personal experience or prior knowledge of mental illness or therapy have more favorable attitudes about therapy than those with no prior knowledge or experience. It is also feasible that students who continue therapy while attending college have more severe mental health problems or disorders and require further treatment. This finding is significant for universities and campus counseling centers, also, as many counseling centers use a brief model of therapy, which may not prove beneficial for students with more severe problems. However, definitive information is not available, as the current data set lacks important information, such as the previous duration of treatment, student diagnoses, time of semester that the students entered therapy, and improvement in symptoms following current therapy. Thus, results should be interpreted with caution. Other limitations and suggestions for further research are also discussed.
Mathis, Leigh Ann, "Student Psychotropic Drug Use, Past Therapy Experience and Length of Therapy" (2008). Masters Theses & Specialist Projects. Paper 49.