Experiences of co-counseling among counselors-in-training
Palacios III, José Rogelio
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In this study I explored the lived experiences of counselors-in-training (CITs) who were engaged in co-counseling. While there is some literature about co-counseling there is little that investigates it as a training method for CITs. Codes of ethics of professional bodies as well as Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) standards require counselor education programs to provide training that adequately prepare counselors. The overarching research question of this study was: What were the lived experiences of master’s-level CITs engaged in co-counseling at a university counseling and training clinic? The secondary research questions were: How did CITs perceive their interactions with co-counselors? What were the perceived benefits of co-counseling in their training? What were the perceived difficulties of co-counseling in their training? This study utilized a phenomenological approach that employed journal entries, semi-structured interviews, and a focus group as data sources. Participants included 8 master’s-level CITs completing their clinical fieldwork at a Counseling and Training Clinic on the campus of a CACREP-accredited counseling program located in the southwestern region of the United States. During the study CITs provided counseling services to the community free of charge. Analysis of data resulted in the emergence of five distinct themes. One, support and shared responsibility reflected the importance of support and encouragement as well as being mutually responsible for each other’s work and growth. Two, co-counseling presented CITs with unique opportunities for learning. Three, the essential role of communication reflected how communication was helpful and aided teamwork, issues that arose as a result of a lack of communication, and suggestions for establishing communication. Four, appreciating multiple perspectives assisted CITs in developing conceptualization skills, provided awareness they may not have had, and enhanced respect for their co-counselors. Respect required patience, understanding, and tolerance between co-counselors. Five, challenges with co-counseling refers to participant experiences of particular problems. Implications for practice include the possibility for counselor educators to employ co-counseling as an approach to introduce CITs to the counseling process as well as the need to train supervisors in effective co-counseling supervision. Future research expanding knowledge about co-counseling is warranted.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in COUNSELOR EDUCATION from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas.