Explanatory Styles of Counsellors in Training

Wanda Boyer, Paul Jerry, Gwen R. Rempel, James Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review


Explanatory style is based on how one explains good and bad events according to three dimensions: personalization, permanence, and pervasiveness. With an optimistic explanatory style, good events are explained as personal, permanent, and pervasive, whereas bad events are explained as external, temporary, and specific. For counsellors, an optimistic explanatory style creates positive expectancy judgments about the possibilities and opportunities for successful client outcomes. In this research study, we explored the explanatory styles expressed in 400 events (200 good events and 200 bad events) extracted from 38,013 writing samples of first year and final year graduate level counsellors in training. Across the three optimism dimensions and within good and bad events, there was one occurrence of a positive relationship between counsellor training time and the amount of expressed optimism. The implications of this study include the need to cultivate optimistic explanatory styles of counsellors in training and practicing counsellors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-242
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal for the Advancement of Counselling
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun. 2021


  • Counsellors in training
  • Explanatory style
  • Optimism
  • Positive psychology
  • Quantitative content analysis


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