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Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - Research: Why transitioning to college is more stressful for some young adults

By Eric Reikowski, Public Information Specialist

Joel Lane
Dr. Lane’s research revealed a correlation between the strength of one’s relationships and their ability to cope during various life stages.
Joel Lane, Ph.D., a 2013 doctoral graduate of Oakland University’s Counseling program, recently earned high honors from the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC), a major certifying body for professional counselors in the U.S. His dissertation, “The Impact of Attachment Working Models and Social Support on the Subjective and Psychological Well-Being of Emerging Adults in Transition” was recognized with the NBCC’s Annual Dissertation Award.

Dr. Lane’s research focused on the mental health and well-being of young adults going through life transitions. He said his interest in the topic grew out of his professional experiences working with young adults.

“In my work as a counselor and an academic adviser, I was constantly exposed to young adults who experienced various difficulties in their lives resulting from life changes, such as entering and leaving college, and starting professional life,” he explained. “I wanted to better understand why some young adults experience great distress during these transitions while others can move through them without issue.”

Dr. Lane’s research revealed a correlation between the strength of one’s relationships and their ability to cope during various life stages.

“I was able to show that the more secure a young adult's relationships were, the more supported they felt by their social networks, which helped them maintain well-being during these life changes,” Dr. Lane said. “On the other hand, those who reported more insecure attachments also felt less supported by their social networks and less well-being during life transitions.”

Robert Fink, Ph.D., chaired Dr. Lane’s dissertation committee and praised him for “groundbreaking” work.

“No previous study has looked at the issue of emerging adults confronting developmental transitions as fully as Joel's study,” said Dr. Fink, an associate professor in OU’s Department of Counseling. “It set the standard. It will stimulate significant future work in terms of theory development, research and counseling practice with emerging adults.”

Prior to completing his Ph.D., Dr. Lane earned an M.A. in Professional Counseling at Oakland. He has served as a special lecturer in OU’s Department of Counseling and as a mental health counselor specializing in treatment of adolescents and young adults. He credits advisers at OU with helping him understand the full impact of earning a doctorate.

“They stressed that earning a Ph.D. is about more than just working in research, but also about endeavoring to become a leader in your field. I don't think I fully appreciated that until I began progressing through the doctoral program, where I was given some opportunities to teach classes and present at conferences. I fell in love with all aspects of doctoral work – research, teaching, service and leadership – the whole profession.”

Along with the award, Dr. Lane received $1,500 and published an article based on his dissertation in the NBCC journal, The Professional Counselor.