Exploring the effects of personal counseling on the development of counselors in training

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kathleen H. Driscoll (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Craig Cashwell

Abstract: Graduate students from all disciplines report stressful experiences related to academic workload, lack of a healthy work life balance, assistantship responsibilities, and finances (Fox, 2008; Mazzola et al., 2011; Oswalt & Riddock, 2007; Wyatt & Oswalt 2013). Specifically, counselors in training (CITs) experience a combination of graduate school academic rigor with the practice of sitting with clients and developing skills, knowledge, and counseling style. Becoming a counselor is emotionally demanding (Folkes-Skinner, 2016; Folkes-Skinner, Elliot, & Wheeler, 2010; Howard, Inman, & Altman, 2006; Orlinksy & Rønnestad, 2005; Skovholt & Rønnestad, 2003) and interpersonal and intrapersonal changes are elicited through training (Furr & Carroll, 2003). As self-exploration is emerging in training, perturbation of the self is also developing, occasioning developmental transitions that present unique challenges. It appears that CITs need support throughout their counselor development journey to buffer personal and psychological distress. Although there may be many such factors, including emotional, logistical, and financial support from family and friends, the support of other students in the program, and faculty who are sensitive to student struggles, personal counseling seems one approach to self-care and self-awareness that warrants attention. It seems possible that personal counseling may be an avenue for CITs that could facilitate increased self-awareness, healthy counselor development, and personal well-being. To date, research on personal counseling has been primarily a) international, b) with participants who were mandated to access counseling, and c) with participants who were from a range of interdisciplinary mental health training programs. Accordingly, little is known specifically about US-based CITs’ experiences related to accessing personal counseling during their training program. That is, counselor education researchers have yet to uncover the breadth and depth of the lived experiences of US-based CITs who voluntarily access counseling services. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of CITs accessing personal counseling and how this impacts counselor development in specific regards to self-awareness, empathy development, self-reflection, tolerance for ambiguity, self-efficacy, and self-care. The following research questions were addressed through this study: (1) What are the experiences of CITs utilizing personal counseling during their training program? (2) How do CITs understand how their personal counseling experience has influenced their development as a professional counselor? Through qualitative interviews, the experiences of CITs and the impacts on counselor development were explored, as well as the positive and negative aspects of these experiences. In analyzing ten individual interviews with master’s level CITs voluntary seeking counseling, five domains emerged that provide insight into the research questions. The domains include the following: (1) previous counseling experience, (2) motivation, (3) personal takeaways of going to counseling, (4) professional takeaways of going to counseling, and (5) other. Categories and subcategories emerged within these domains as well including the following: a) academic/professional encouragement, b) meaningful counseling experiences, c) family, social and cultural influences, d) logistical barriers, e) counselor relationship, f) learning from the counseling, g) positive impact on counselor development, and h) personal counseling is considered “best practice”. Research results, study limitations, implications for counselor educators, counselor training, and CITs, and future research directions are discussed.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
Counseling, Counselor education, Counselors in training, Self-care, Therapy, Wellness
Counselor trainees $x Counseling of
Counselor trainees $x Mental health
Self-consciousness (Awareness)
Self-care, Health

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