Counseling -- Evaluation, Counselor educators, Counselor trainees, Phenomenology


Counselor educators are charged with facilitating the development of counseling students towards becoming ethical and competent counselors (American Counseling Association [ACA], 2005; Council for Accreditation for Counseling and Related Educational Programs [CACREP], 2009). In addition, counselor educators serve as gatekeepers for the profession and deny entry to counseling students who demonstrate deficiency of necessary competencies (ACA, 2005; Association for Counselor Education and Supervision [ACES], 1993; CACREP, 2009). Numerous assessment tools utilized for the evaluation of counseling competencies have been developed, yet none has gained universal acceptance in the field of counselor education. The Counseling Competencies Scale© (CCS, UCF Counselor Education Faculty, 2009) is a 32 item counseling-student assessment tool developed to measure counselors-in-training counselor competencies (counseling skills, professional dispositions, and behaviors). The psychometric properties of the CCS have been investigated (Swank, 2010); however, questions related to perceptions, purposes, and uses of the CCS remained. Therefore, the purpose of this descriptive, exploratory phenomenology was to understand counseling students‘ and practicum supervisors‘ lived experiences with the CCS. The sample included counseling practicum students (N = 23 [individual student interviews only, n = 11; student focus group interviews only, n = 4, individual student interviews and student focus group participants, n = 8]) and practicum supervisors (N = 6) from a CACREP accredited counselor education program in the Southeastern United States. The data was collected through individual interviews and focus groups with practicum students and individual interviews with practicum supervisors. All data was recorded, transcribed, coded, and analyzed for themes (Creswell, 2007; Moustakas, 1994). The data analyses utilized a research key iv comprised of 34 meaning units (Devenish, 2002; Moustakas, 1994) and identified five themes within the data: (a) Cognitive understanding, (b) Emotional Understanding, (c) Feedback, (d) Trustworthiness, and (e) Gatekeeping. A visual metaphor was developed to illustrate the interaction of the five themes. Trustworthiness measures employed throughout the research included the use of (a) descriptions of researcher positionality, (b) a self-reflective field journal, (c) triangulation (student and supervisor individual interviews, student focus group interviews, and examination of the CCS document), (d) member checking, (e) peer debriefers, (f) an external auditor, (g) an extensive description of previous literature, and (h) an openness to disconfirming evidence (Creswell, 2007; Marshall & Rossman, 2006; Moustakas, 1994). The results supported that counseling students and their clinical supervisors identified the CCS as an appropriate and comprehensive supervisory tool; however, they acknowledged CCSrelated limitations including inconsistent application, problematic scoring system, pass/fail structure, and delivery by instructors and practicum supervisors who demonstrated minimal investment of time and effort. Implications for counselor educators include the importance of program and faculty members‘ engagement and consistency regarding the use of (a) evaluation and feedback tools, (b) remediation and gatekeeping processes, and (c) counseling student performance expectations. Replication of this study at diverse institutions is suggested. In addition, quantitative and qualitative investigations examining counseling student competencies and development (e.g., CCS) would contribute to the counselor education, counseling-student development, and counseling supervision literature. A discussion of the investigation‘s limitations is included.


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Lambie, Glenn


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education








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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education, Education -- Dissertations, Academic

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