Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education

Major Professor

Joel F. Diambra

Committee Members

Shawn L. Spurgeon, Victor W. Barr, Ralph G. Brockett


Because the counseling profession often involves responsibilities associated with providing both individual and group-based client services, it is important that counselors-in-training are instructed in ways that prepare them to be effective in facilitating both therapeutic modalities. Researchers noted that group therapy constitutes an equally effective, if not at times more effective, approach to treating a range of client issues (Corey, 2015; Gladding, 2012; Ward, 2004; Yalom & Leszcz, 2005). The ways in which counseling students are currently trained in group work frequently involve experiential methods (Guth & McDonnell, 2004), one of which is the increasingly popular requirement of small group participation (Furr & Barret, 2000; Lennie, 2007). Although CACREP (2009) currently requires that students engage in 10 hours of group membership over the course of one semester, little mention is made of requiring students to engage in group facilitation practice. As such, it is currently unclear in the literature how required experiential small groups prepare counseling students as future group facilitators. To address this gap in the literature, this study used a content analysis approach to analyze qualitative interviews with seven counseling graduates who participated in experiential small groups as part of their Group Dynamics and Methods course. Using Kolb’s (1984) Experiential Learning Theory as a lens to examine transcribed interviews, five themes emerged, including: “Expectations”, “The Emotional Experience”, “The Learning Process”, “Preparation”, and “Missing Pieces”. I discuss these findings and detail their key aspects in relation to both counselor education and existing literature. I also identify implications for counselor educators and accreditation bodies, and provide recommendations for future research.

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