Using the Theory of Planned Behavior to Predict International Students' Help-Seeking Intentions and Behaviors
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U.S. colleges and universities have hosted international students from all over the world. Along with the increase of international student enrollment, campus counselors are challenged with identifying the students who need professional help but are reluctant to utilize their campus counseling services (Zhang and Dixon, 2003; Mitchell et al., 2007). Employing the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), the current study investigated Virginia Tech international students' help-seeking process in terms of their attitudes toward counseling services, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control. A total of 132 international students completed a cross-sectional online survey. Contrary to TPB, the results indicated that attitudes toward help-seeking and subjective norms were not correlated with help-seeking intentions. Perceived behavioral control, however, was identified as a predictor of international students' willingness to seek professional help. Intentions and perceived behavioral control were not predictors of international students' utilization of the Thomas E. Cook Counseling Center. The correlation between acculturation and self-stigma with international students'] help-seeking intentions and behaviors was insignificant. Gender was a marginally significant predictor of help-seeking behavior. Previous experience of counseling services was strongly correlated with international students' help-seeking intentions and behavior. The majority of Virginia Tech international students reported emotional issues as their biggest challenge while studying in the U.S. Overall, as the first study which investigated international students' help-seeking process within the Theory of Planned Behavior framework, the present research expanded the literature about foreign students' adjustment issues and utilization of their campus counseling services. Limitations, future directions, and general implications were addressed.
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