A Longitudinal Case Study of Graduate School as Logotherapy for an International Ph.D. Student Studying in the United States


Author: Amber Esping

Category: Articles

Pages: 27

JEPP Issue: Vol. 3 No. 2

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The present study describes the graduate school experience of Lorena, an international student who was pursuing a Ph.D. in the United States.  Three years of longitudinal data were explored from within the a priori theoretical framework of Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy. Lorena’s graduate work facilitated meaning-discovery through creative, experiential, and attitudinal values simultaneously.  Specifically, graduate school (1) offered opportunities to realize creative values through scholarship, mentoring, and advocacy, (2) facilitated the realization of experiential values such as self-understanding, (3) promoted attitudinal values by helping Lorena reframe challenges posed by her unique status as an international student, and (4) provided outlets for exercising responsbilness. When Lorena considered quitting, this responsibleness kept her going, suggesting that the logotherapeutic framework might be useful for conceptualizing both motivation and mental health among international Ph.D. students. The author argues that more attention should be paid to the existential reasons for pursuing advanced education in the U.S.