Working from the heart: Mexican American counselors-in-training and the development of counselor identity




Majors, Stephanie


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Within the past 10 years, the fields of both counseling and counselor education have worked to improve their professional identity. In addition to the development of solid counselor identity through the American Counseling Association’s (ACA) consensus definition, the field has also worked to diversify its clinicians, faculty, and student populations. There have also been efforts by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs (CACREP) to support diversity in both masters and doctoral programs across the country. However, most students and faculty in programs across the nation identify as white. Yet not much is known about the development of professional counselor identity amongst students of color, specifically the Mexican American population of counseling students. Mexican Americans are one of the fastest growing subsets of the Hispanic population in our country, yet little is known about how these students develop and integrate their professional counselor identities during their master’s programs. This study explored the lived experiences of Mexican American CITs as they relate to the development of their professional counselor identities. A total of six participants were interviewed for this hermeneutic phenomenological qualitative study. This study resulted in the identification of five themes with corresponding subthemes. Themes identified are: (a) My cultural identity is who I am as a Mexican American CIT; (b) As a Mexican American CIT I need different types of support; (c) My Mexican American culture makes me a better CIT; (d) I want to help my people; and (e) I am a lifelong learner. This study helped to identify what is important with regards to counselor identity development and the integration of cultural and professional identities within the Mexican American CIT population. Implications for future research include repeating this study with Mexican Americans in different parts of the country as well as exploring counselor identity development with other Hispanic subpopulations.



counseling, counselor development, counselor education, hispanic, mexican american, professional counselor identity



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