Young pregnant clients in college or university counselling centres: Environmental and symptom experiences

Rayna D. Markin, Kevin S. McCarthy, Jeffrey A. Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This archival study sought to examine the sociocultural contextual factors and symptom experiences with which young pregnant clients typically present to university and college counselling centres (UCCCs). Participants were 154 pregnant clients (aged 18–24), and 154 matched case–control women seeking counselling at their UCCC. Data were archived between 2013 and 2015 through the Center for Collegiate Mental Health. Pregnant clients were more likely to be relatively older, economically disadvantaged and first-generation college students from a racial/ethnic minority group, as compared to the general population of women at UCCCs. Pregnant clients reported more depression and less social anxiety, but not more distress overall, than did matched controls. Contrary to this, counsellors judged pregnant clients to have a higher frequency of problems than control clients. Risky behaviours, social support and trauma correlated with distress similarly for pregnant clients and their matched controls, except for peer support, which emerged as a potentially unique protective factor for pregnant women against academic distress, and interpersonal abuse, which emerged as a potentially unique risk factor for substance abuse distress for pregnant women. These findings suggest that: (a) counsellors and clients differ in their perception of presenting problems and level of distress when pregnancy is a concern, (b) it is important for counsellors to understand the sociocultural context in which pregnant clients’ problems or distress occur, and (c) social support and interpersonal abuse seem to be unique protective/risk factors for young pregnant college students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)768-780
Number of pages13
JournalCounselling and Psychotherapy Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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