Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education

Major Professor

Jeff L. Cochran

Committee Members

Joel F. Diambra, Gary J. Skolits, Jennifer Bolden


Therapeutic relationships and counselor qualities as contributions to therapeutic relationships are widely recognized as critical to counseling outcome (Norcross, 2011). Counselors in training (CITs) tend to possess certain traits at certain stages, such as high anxiety, lack of confidence, and a high focus on self in an early stage of development. Child-centered play therapy (CCPT) represents a specialization within counseling, and the current research highlights how the CITs learn CCPT within the classroom (Fall, Drew, Chute, & More, 2007; Homeyer & Rae, 1998; Kao & Landreth, 1997; Lindo et al., 2012; Ray, 2004; Ritter & Chang, 2002; Tanner & Mathis, 1995) but not within training experiences. Thus, the purpose of this study is to explore how counselors develop during an early training experience in CCPT utilizing a case study (Stake, 1995; Yin, 1994, 2003) of an existing supervision group. I utilized the Integrative Developmental Model (IDM) as a theoretical lens to better understand the participants. I used the constant comparative method (Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Merriam, 1998) to analyze the online blogs, semi structured interviews, and focus group. Several themes emerged including counselor development, empathy-shared experience, performance anxiety, confidence development, buy-in, skill development, greater understanding of theory, greater understanding of self, as well as valuing supervision and the supervisory relationship. I discuss the findings in detail in relationship to the current research on counselor development and within the context of IDM. I also provide the implications for counselor educators and supervisors, as well as outline ideas for future research.

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