University Counsellors’ Experiences of Working with Students who Procrastinate: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

  • Shirin Shams

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Procrastination as problematic delay is a widely occurring phenomenon in modern society. It is particularly prevalent in academic settings where some students avoid or postpone their work in numerous ways. Over the last three decades, a substantial body of quantitative and some qualitative studies have been conducted, however, to date researchers are still unclear about what causes this problem and how it can be effectively helped. Working with procrastination is therefore considered an important issue for counselling psychologists, many of whom work in university student counselling services. The aim of this research was to conduct an inductive qualitative study to explore how university counsellors understand and work with students who present for help with procrastination. Ten volunteer participants were interviewed who mainly identified themselves as working integratively. An interpretative phenomenological analysis was conducted and the results produced four master themes that highlighted firstly general challenges of working with students who procrastinate in university settings. Secondly, three distinct styles of procrastination were identified from these participants’ accounts as “de-skilled”, “anxious/fearful” and “conflictual”. These indicated a need for tailored therapeutic approaches that seemed to be enabled by an integrative therapeutic stance. Overall, it may be concluded that procrastination as a presenting problem in academia is a heterogeneous phenomenon that requires adaptable therapeutic approaches for individual students’ styles in relation to studying autonomously.
Date of Award28 Mar 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorGina Pauli-Jones (Supervisor) & Jean O'Callaghan (Supervisor)


  • Procrastination, Counselling, Counselling Psychology, IPA, Qualitative, University Counsellors

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