Date of Graduation

Summer 8-15-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PsyD)


School of Nursing and Health Professions




Clinical Psychology (PsyD)

First Advisor

Dhara Meghani, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Brent Ferm, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

William Bosl, Ph.D.


The transition to parenthood is considered both an exciting and inherently stressful time. The related changes and challenges may be associated with increased levels of anxiety and depression. Parental self-efficacy (PSE), or parents’ perceived ability to succeed at parenting-related tasks and challenges, may be both a product and predictor of mental health during this time. There is little research on the relationship between general self-efficacy (GSE) and PSE, although theory suggests that GSE may influence PSE. This quantitative study utilizes a longitudinal and dyadic design to examine the relationship between GSE, PSE, and mental health across the transition to parenthood for first-time mothers and fathers. 24 heterosexual couples (n = 48) participated in the study. Participants completed a questionnaire during the third trimester of pregnancy and at approximately three months postpartum. Questionnaires assessed perceived GSE, PSE, anxiety, depression, and levels of infant fussiness. Mixed effects modeling was used on a nested data set to test all hypotheses. Exploratory analyses examined differences between mothers and fathers. Results suggest that GSE is a significant predictor of PSE, and that PSE is a significant predictor of postnatal anxiety and depression. Exploratory analyses reveal that these results may be significant for mothers, but not fathers, suggesting differences between parenting partners, though more research is needed in this area. Clinical implications include targeting self-efficacy in perinatal support programs and interventions in order to mitigate mental health symptoms during the transition to parenthood. Additional research is warranted to further examine influences of one partner on another.