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Attachment, negative self-schemas, and coping with separation-individuation during the transition to college

Roring, Steven Anthony, II
Scope and Method of Study: This study examined the relationships between and among parental attachment, negative self-schemas, feelings of separation and individuation, and coping strategies among 149 freshmen college students.
Findings and Conclusions: Freshmen college students with more secure attachments to their parents were less likely to experience difficulty with rejection expectancy, engulfment anxiety, and separation anxiety and were significantly less likely to have negative self-schemas. Freshmen college students with higher levels of negative self-schemas associated with a personal sense of defectiveness and the expectation that they will experience emotional deprivation and who are hypercritical of themselves and who suppress their emotions tended to feel they will be rejected by others, while freshmen college students who expected to experience emotional deprivation from others and who met the needs of others at the expense of their own personal needs tended to feel lonely and less likely to be closer to their parents emotionally. Counselors and psychologists may be able to help college students who present with difficulties adjusting to college by focusing on the relationships students have with their parents. By focusing on parental attachment, counselors and psychologists may be able to normalize the feelings college students have about their parents, which may result in students becoming more comfortable with being apart from their parents. Counselors and psychologists may also help freshmen college students by exploring negative self-schemas that impact their ability to have secure attachments with their parents and to use positive coping strategies.