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Date of Award


Degree Type

Dissertation (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Jay Thomas, PhD, ABPP

Second Advisor

Margaret Smith, PhD


A social cognitive theory was used to generate an intervention for social assistance recipients who experience psychological barriers to employability. The aim of the program was to enhance individuals' coping self-efficacy and cognitive control self-efficacy in order to reduce mental distress and increase employability self-efficacy. It was hypothesized that increases in self-efficacy will result in higher levels of agency---motivation and goal setting activity and will generalize to more successful participation in job search and job skills programs, and to productive employment and job retention. The experimental intervention was designed as a 10 week long workshop emphasizing coping skills training, communication and problem-solving skills, and the management of maladaptive cognitions. Six sources of self-efficacy information--verbal persuasion, physiological and emotional arousal, imaginal, vicarious, and performance experiences, were integrated with various teaching and reinforcement tools (e.g., role play, modeling, positive feedback, group discussion, guided imagery, relaxation and meditation) to target specific behaviors. A preliminary pilot study was developed to precede the experimental intervention in order to assess program feasibility. Program design included the: (1) random assignment of participants to either an experimental or a control group; (2) administration of pretest, post-test, and follow-up (3 months post-test) questionnaires; and (3) analyses of data to guide further development and refinement of the program. An ongoing evaluation procedure was outlined. A detailed treatment manual was developed, but not tested. Possible applications of the program as well as limits and generalizability of the study were discussed.