Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education

Major Professor

Marianne Woodside

Committee Members

Trena Paulus, Shawn Spurgeon, Pricilla Blanton


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to describe the experiences of resilience following parental divorce for university freshmen. Five participants were interviewed using a multiple case study methodology and Richardson’s (2002) resilience model as the theoretical framework. It examined how the three needs of Self-Determination theory (autonomy, relatedness, and competence) and the three categories of protective factors (individual, family, and community) contributed to resilience. Data were collected through demographic surveys, divorce artwork, resilience artwork, and interview transcriptions. General themes, typological self-determination need themes, and typological protective factor themes were developed for each individual and across cases. The findings suggested that autonomy needs and individual protective factors were the same, competence needs and most community factors were the same, and relatedness needs and family protective factors, along with the community protective factor of friends, were same. Therefore, this study linked the empirical support of protective factor research to the tenet of self-determination theory that stated that by facilitating the three self-determination needs, optimal positive psychological, developmental and behavioral outcomes occur (Deci & Ryan, 2008). Findings also revealed a) the importance of cognitive coping strategies, b) the benefit of helping others, c) the significance of the relatedness need, and d) the value of multiple types of relationships. Implications for counselors and recommendations for future research on resilience in children of divorce were provided.

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