Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education

Major Professor

Marianne Woodside, Joel Diambra

Committee Members

Shawn Spurgeon, Victor Barr


Research supports the link between higher levels of cognitive complexity and counseling efficacy. Counselor educators, therefore, strive to promote higher levels of cognitive complexity in different areas of counselor preparation, such as individual counseling and multicultural training. Presently, the research literature lacks studies focused on cognitive complexity in group work training. To address this gap in the literature, this study used content analysis, a qualitative methodology to describe cognitive complexity of 10 counselors-in-training enrolled in a Group Dynamics and Methods course. Using Bloom’s Cognitive Taxonomy to analyze participants’ written reflection assignments, I found that participants demonstrated cognitive complexity primarily in knowledge through application levels. Several categories/themes emerged from a separate analysis, including leader styles/techniques, norms, activities, and sharing/disclosing. I discuss these findings and highlight key aspects of the findings in relation to the broader literature. I identify implications for counselor educators and suggest future studies for counselor education researchers.

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