Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Wierzbicki, Michael J.

Second Advisor

Saunders, Stephen

Third Advisor

Hoelzle, James


Cognitive flexibility is broadly defined as the ability to shift perspective or approach in order to adapt to changes in the environment. This implies the abilities to generate alternatives and then to implement effective approaches. High cognitive flexibility has been associated with psychological well-being and effective coping, whereas low flexibility, or rigidity, has been linked to several types of psychopathology. The goal of the current study was to provide exploratory evidence of the utility of a brief, self-report measure of cognitive flexibility in identifying relationships to coping strategies, symptomatology, and treatment duration in a clinical setting. A total of 18 individuals seeking treatment at a university-affiliated mental health clinic participated in the study. Participants completed measures of cognitive flexibility and coping styles. Demographic information and data regarding symptomatology and treatment were gathered from client files. Correlational analyses indicated strong positive relationships between aspects of cognitive flexibility and use of problem-focused coping, suggesting that greater ability to generate and implement effective approaches is linked to greater use of pragmatic strategies to improve a situation. Results also indicated a strong positive correlation between the perceived control over challenging situations and duration of previous therapy. However, no relationship was found between flexibility and symptomatology. These exploratory results provide preliminary evidence for the relationship between cognitive flexibility and aspects of mental health in a clinical setting.