The effectiveness of relaxation training in reducing the anxiety level of vocational rehabilitation clients prior to an audio-videotaped simulation of a job interview

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The Department of Rehabilitative Services of the Commonwealth of Virginia is charged with the responsibility of assisting eligible citizens (clients) with physical and/or psychological handicaps to enter, return to, or remain in gainful employment. To accomplish this goal, it is often necessary to have the client undergo training in Job Search Skills (JSS). Part of this training includes helping clients to develop better job interviewing skills. Empirical evidence gathered in recent years indicates, however, that anxiety associated with job interviewing is a major problem for many clients.

This study was designed to field test a relaxation training technique to help vocational rehabilitation (VR) clients reduce their job interview anxiety. The subjects were 60 adult VR clients (46 males and 14 females) participating in a five-day JSS training program. The subjects were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups: The experimental group (n = 30) and the control group (n = 30). On the first day of the program, all subjects were administered the Trait Anxiety Scale of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). Experimental subjects received relaxation training and practiced self-relaxation during the five-day program. Control subjects received a placebo training exercise. On the fifth day of the program, all subjects completed the STAI State Anxiety Scale and had their blood pressure taken immediately prior to participating as the interviewee in an audio-videotaped simulation of a job interview.

Data were analyzed using frequency distribution, chi-square analysis, t-tests, and multiple regression analysis procedures. Results showed that the experimental group had significantly (p .01) lower state anxiety scores than the control group. In addition, the groups were found to differ significantly on trait anxiety, years of education, age, and body weight. The interaction effects of these variables were discussed. It was concluded that relaxation training had a significant effect in helping rehabilitation clients to reduce their job interview anxiety. The implications of the findings for JSS training programs were discussed.