Online counselor training: challenges and successes in the experiences of online counselor educators

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Daniel P. Hall (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
J. Scott Young

Abstract: Online education has grown significantly in higher education despite a decline in overall enrollment (Allen & Seaman, 2015; U.S. Census, 2014). Notwithstanding the growing trend of online education, counselor education has been slower than many fields in adopting the online medium for providing professional training for counselors. However, the growing number of counselor education programs offering fully online counselor training indicates that this new approach to formal education is gaining momentum and acceptance within the field. Counselor training is a distinctive form of educational training because it requires a combination of theory knowledge, skill development, advanced cognitive complexity, and personal self-awareness and reflection (Giovannelli, 2003; Ivey, 1994; Nelson & Neufeldt, 1998). The current body of research provides evidence that online counselor training can be effective in facilitating the development of specific student skills (Ilieva & Erguner-Tekinalp, 2012; Nelson, 2014), competencies (Ilieva & Erguner-Tekinalp, 2012; Chapman et al, 2011), and attributes (Perry, 2012). Although this research is helpful in understanding specific aspects of online counselor education, these narrowly-focused examinations have failed to provide evidence of how this growing modality of counselor training is being developed and implemented. This study utilized a theoretical framework of constructivism, which posits that knowledge is constructed through understanding the experiences of those actively involved in a process (Dewey, 1916; Merriam & Bierema, 2013; Narayan, Rodriguez, Araujo, Shaqlaih, & Moss, 2013). In the context of this study, counselor educators served as the entry point for developing a deep understanding of how online counselor training is being developed and implemented, as they experience all aspects of the counselor training process (Senge et al., 2000; Tallent-Runnels et al., 2006). This study utilized a Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) (Hill, Thompson, & Williams, 1997) methodology to explore the experiences of Counselor Educators developing and delivering online counselor training. The CQR method was chosen because it allows individuals immersed in a phenomenon to give in-depth and rich descriptions of their experiences. CQR provides a rigorous examination of these experiences by using the consensus process of the research team to analyze the key themes from the participants’ experiences and an external auditor to provide detailed feedback during the data analysis. Findings from the current study revealed two general and seven typical themes across participants’ experiences. This suggested that participants’ experiences developing and delivering online counselor training were highly individualized. Despite the overall low frequency counts, several categories emerged that suggest there are commonalities among experiences of developing and delivering online counselor training. Three of the most common themes that emerged in this study were institutional support, educator-student connection, and student-fit for the online environment.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
Counselor, Education, Online, Training
Counselor educators
Counselors $x Training of
Counseling $x Computer-assisted instruction
Internet in higher education

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