Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Micah L. McCreary

Second Advisor

Edmund O. Acevedo


In our sedentary society, physical inactivity has become the biggest public health concern of the 21st century. In addition to physical health promotion, physical activity has been associated with a number of positive psychological and social outcomes. Psychologists are well positioned to provide physical activity counseling and may have ethical obligations to address physical activity with their clients. Training the next generation of psychologists about the role of physical activity and health is critical to ensure best practices in graduate education. Researchers have cited insufficient training as a barrier to integrating physical activity into clinical work, yet little is known about effective training in physical activity counseling. One way to address these barriers is to employ an online-based training program allowing greater accessibility for doctoral psychology students across the United States. This exploratory study evaluated the effectiveness of a constructivist online interactive intervention, and compared it with a more traditional online content intervention and a control group, for enhancing doctoral psychology students’ self-efficacy in using physical activity counseling. It was hypothesized that 1) online interactive intervention would enhance self-efficacy, knowledge, and use of physical activity counseling compared to the online content intervention; and 2) both of these active treatments would yield improvements in physical activity counseling outcomes (e.g. self-efficacy, knowledge of health benefits of exercise, practice of physical activity counseling with clients, and personal level physical activity) compared with a control group. Results partially supported the original hypotheses. Mixed ANCOVA analyses indicated that participants in both intervention groups showed more self-efficacy at post-intervention assessment compared to their control group peers but the interactive intervention was not more effective than the content based intervention. Participants in the intervention groups demonstrated more targeted knowledge of physical activity counseling at post-intervention compared to their control group peers. No differences were found in the practice of physical activity counseling with clients post intervention. This study indicates there may be promise in using online platforms for enhancing physical activity counseling self-efficacy among psychologists in training. Future studies should continue to assess the effectiveness of physical activity counseling and refine training interventions to examine the effects of such interventions among the next generation of psychologists.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2013