Date of Award

5-2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Counselor Education

Major Professor

Joel F. Diambra

Committee Members

Laura S. Wheat, Pamelia E. Brott, Dorian L. McCoy

Abstract

Grief is a universal phenomenon that affects countless Americans each year. Given its ubiquitous nature, it is inevitable that professional counselors will engage with grieving clients; however, research suggests that professional counselors are not receiving adequate training in grief counseling and they lack preparedness in understanding and addressing the needs of their grieving clients. This may be due, in part, to the lack of guidelines offered in the 2016 Council for Accreditation & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) standards, an organization widely identified as the single accrediting organization for the counseling profession. The purpose of this study was to explore professional counselors’ perceived preparedness when counseling clients grieving the death of another individual. I interviewed 11 professional counselors, exploring their clinical experiences counseling grieving clients and their master’s-level training regarding counseling this population. I utilized a qualitative conventional content analysis to examine and analyze the interview data. I identified five themes: Personal Dynamics of the Professional Counselor; Missing Preparation & Desired Training; Perceived Professional Counselor Responsibilities; The Client-Counselor Relationship; and Revolving Systemic Factors. I provide implications for counselor educators, counseling graduate students, CACREP administrators, professional counselors, supervisors, along with recommendations for future research. Overall, the implications involve revisiting counseling curriculum, investing in professional counseling organizations, and advocating for systemic changes in professional work settings. The limitations of the study included lack of a diverse sample size and happenstance interview questions. Lastly, I describe my reflections as the primary researcher of this study.

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