Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education

Major Professor

Casey A. Barrio Minton

Committee Members

Melinda M. Gibbons, Lauren Moret, Elizabeth I. Johnson


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to describe the experiences of professional school counselors (PSCs) with children of incarcerated parents (CIP). The study addressed three research questions: In what ways do PSCs conceptualize the needs of CIP? In what ways do PSCs work with CIP? and How do PSCs experience barriers in their work with CIP?

An instrumental case study design (Stake, 1995) was used to consider the experiences of PSCs in a single school district in a Southeastern state. Data sources included interviews with fifteen PSCs, observation of PSC professional development, and document review of policies and practices guiding PSCs in the school district. Themes emerged from analysis of the data sources within the context of the case. Findings suggested PSCs noted observable impacts of parental incarceration among school-age children, including emotional responses, behavioral or cognitive responses, and academic problems. PSCs in the study conceptualized loss experiences for CIP in a way that was consistent with ambiguous loss theory (Boss, 2006), describing changes in family relationships, uncertainty, and stigma. Findings also suggested PSCs sought to meet the needs of CIP using skills inherent in their professional role; however, they experienced barriers navigating professional roles and meeting the needs of CIP. Based on these findings, implications for PSCs and counselor educators and recommendations for future research were provided.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."