Preparing master’s level counselors-in-training to work with trauma

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Brittany E. Wyche (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Carrie Wachter Morris

Abstract: Research on trauma continues to expand, building on the work of scholars, practitioners, advocates, and survivors over the past one hundred years (Courtois & Gold, 2009; Herman, 1997; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2014; Webber et al., 2017; Zarse et al., 2019). The considerable existing literature on trauma, and its direct and indirect impact on individuals, families, and systems, has prompted many calls for the use of a trauma-informed approach in education, supervision, and treatment (Berger & Quiros, 2014; Black, 2006; SAMHSA, 2014). Scholars have supported the claim for counselor education to include trauma (Lu et al., 2017; Newman, 2011; Trippany et al., 2004), and some researchers have begun to clarify what needs to be taught in Master’s level curriculum to ensure basic competency for all counselors so that they are better prepared to meet the needs of a wide range of clients once they are out in the field (Cook et al., 2019; Land, 2018). Yet despite the expansion of research on working with trauma and the need for greater graduate preparation to work with trauma for counselors-in-training (Bride et al., 2009; Newman, 2011), most existing researchers have focused on the usefulness of trauma-informed supervision to support clinician training (Berger & Quiros, 2016; Knight, 2018; Pieterse, 2018), with limited studies exploring the actual process of teaching clinical students about trauma in their academic coursework (Abrams & Shapiro, 2014; Black, 2008; Butler et al., 2017; Cook et al., 2019; Ghafoori & Davaie, 2012; Greene et al., 2016; Miller, 2001; Shannon et al., 2014a; Shannon et al., 2014b). There is a need to focus on how to teach students about trauma in a trauma-informed way while still covering the necessary academic material that could better prepare them to work with clients who have experienced trauma (Berger & Quiros, 2016; Butler et al., 2017; Cook et al., 2019; Lu et al., 2017). As researchers begin to move beyond identifying the necessary content of teaching about trauma, research on counselor pedagogy could offer a lens to explore how to teach about trauma effectively – both to reduce risk of traumatization and to increase student ability to work with future clients (Barrio Minton et al., 2018; Lu et al., 2017). However, research on pedagogy in the counseling field has been limited, and is an area of study that could benefit from further exploration (Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, Teaching Initiative Taskforce, 2016; Barrio Minton et al., 2018; Nelson & Neufeldt, 1998; Waalkes et al., 2018). Thus, there is a need for researchers to examine the pedagogical processes of teaching about trauma in counselor education for Master’s level counselors-in-training to better understand the design, implementation, and impact of trauma coursework on students. This dissertation study utilized case study research methodology to explore the selected case of a required, standalone course on trauma offered to Master’s students at CACREP accredited counseling program. Data were collected from the course instructor, classroom observations, and student assignments. All of the data were analyzed using qualitative thematic analysis, and results were described and synthesized to answer the proposed research questions. Results from the study were then discussed in light of existing literature on counselor education and trauma pedagogy. Study limitations, implications for counselor educators, and suggestions for future research were included as well.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2021
Counseling, Counselor education, Counselors-in-training, Pedagogy, Trauma, Trauma-informed teaching
Counseling $x Study and teaching (Higher)
Counselors $x Training of
Psychic trauma $x Treatment

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