Emotion Regulation Training in a First-Year Experience Course: A Qualitative Analysis of Students’ Experiences

Natalia Van Doren, Stephanie A. Shields, José A. Soto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The transition to college is a stressful time that can present many emotional challenges and demands. One way to help ease this transition is through the implementation of emotion regulation skills training in first-year experience courses. However, little is known about how students who receive such instruction implement emotion regulation, and what challenges and difficulties they face in doing so. In the present study, first-semester college students (N= 24) who were enrolled in a first-year experience course and received emotion regulation traitning and reported on their experiences regulating their emotions in their everyday lives. Results of thematic analysis revealed six themes in the experience of emotion regulation: emotion regulation as an effortful process, the impact of regulatory goals on regulatory success, the role of timing, emotional awareness, affective forecasting, and regulatory clarity. Findings highlight the challenges that first-semester college students experience while attempting to regulate their emotions during emotional situations, and may aid counseling psychologists understanding of the transition to college with respect to emotion regulation skill development. Further, findings suggest that implementing emotion regulation training in first-year experience courses can provide a meaningful training ground for the development of emotion regulation during the first semester of college.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-392
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of College Student Psychotherapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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