Date of Completion


Embargo Period



phobia, college students, qualitative

Major Advisor

Dr. James O'Neil

Associate Advisor

Dr. Robin Grenier

Associate Advisor

Dr. Orville Karan

Field of Study

Educational Psychology


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


Phobias, including specific, social and agoraphobia, are the most common psychiatric disorders in the United States. Although much research has been conducted on the origins of phobias, little has been studied on the lived experiences of individuals with phobias, in particular the experience of college students with phobias. This study used a qualitative basic interpretive design to ascertain the unique experiences college students have with phobias and the coping strategies they implement to manage their phobias. Participants were 10 students who self-reported with phobias. Data collection included a brief demographic questionnaire and two semi-structured, audio taped interviews. Data were analyzed using open and axial coding and constant comparative methods. The results indicated that students with phobias: (a) experienced physical reactions as a result of triggers; (b) experienced a fear of failure in the formation and maintenance of the phobia; (c) had difficulty forming and maintaining relationships, (d) wanted to overcome the phobia on their own; (e) used avoidance coping; and (f) had elaborate rituals to cope. The study enhances college professionals’ understanding of students’ unique challenges and provides needed information for counseling students on campus.