Spring 2015


Professional Issues in Counseling is an on-line, full-text journal published three times annually for counselors, psychotherapists, mental health practitioners and all others in the helping profession. The purpose of Professional Issues in Counseling is to contribute to the counseling profession by providing readers with research reports and scholarly reviews of current professional issues in counseling.

For the Spring 2015 edition of Professional Issues in Counseling, we are very pleased to feature seven articles covering an array of topics. As always, we truly appreciate the opportunity to publish works produced by these authors. We also want to extend our sincere gratitude to our featured authors, as well as all of those authors who submitted manuscripts, for their patience as we worked through our editorial transition. We also want to thank our panel of reviewers for generously giving their time and expertise to help us select and edit the enlightening manuscripts featured in this edition. We are committing to publishing at least two editions of PIiC each year to highlight issues most relevant and important for counselors working in all types of settings. We look forward to bringing you future editions of Professional Issues in Counseling!

J.  Yasmine Butler, PhD, LPC
Jeffrey M. Sullivan, Ph.D., LPC–S, RPT


Counseling Latino Christians in Costa Rica and the United States

Ya–Wen Melissa Liang, J. Yasmine Butler, and Mary Nichter
Sam Houston State University


Over 92% of Costa Ricans are Roman Catholic Christians.  Counseling Latino Christian clients in Costa Rica and the United States were explored in this qualitative research study.  We attempted to understand counseling experiences through interviewing counselors in Costa Rica and the United States.  Phenomenologically informed methods were used to explore cultural contexts and diverse issues regarding counseling Latino Christian clients.

Keywords: Costa Rica, Christian counseling, ethical concern, religious belief

Cybercounseling:  Legal and Ethical Considerations

Megan Hrivnak, Don Coble, and Rebekah Byrd
East Tennessee State University


With the advent of computer systems, our lives have become increasingly digitized.  Once it took months for a letter to travel overseas, now a few clicks can pull up a videoconference from one’s home.  Many face-to-face interactions are being supplemented with their digital counterparts. Counseling is no exception.  This paper will define cybercounseling, review new ethical guidelines and concerns, contrast benefits and challenges, and provide some recommendations for those interested in exploring counseling’s online counterpart.

Keywords: cybercounseling, etherapy, internet counseling, legal, ethical, online counseling

Evaluating the Criminal History of Graduate Students in Counselor Education Programs

Jameson C. Lontz, Paul Hastings, Jennifer Cataldi, and Nicholle Johnston
Gonzaga University

Eric Eidens
Overlake Hospital, Bellevue Washington


Given occasional revelations regarding legal history of prospective students in counselor education (CE) programs, and a dearth of literature on this topic, the authors explored two issues: 1) whether there is a difference in number of legal charges between prospective students by type of CE program, and 2) whether there are any trends by year.  With an absence of suggestions in the literature as to how programs are to conduct criminal background checks of prospective students in CE programs, application screening personnel, faculty, and other stakeholders are hard pressed to adopt consistent means of gathering criminal background history for those students.  Such lack of data makes gatekeeping for the profession even more arduous.

Keywords: counselor education, forensic, policy, trends, service

The International Student Experience:
Studying in an English Language Institute at a Regional University in Texas

Reade Dowda, Chi-Sing Li, and Beverly J. Irby
Sam Houston State University


The purpose of this article is to gain an understanding of the stressors associated with being an international student studying in an English language program at a regional university in Texas. We discovered that international students experience different stressors than their American counterparts including transportation and food concerns. Results from a focus group including international students from Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand are discussed.

Keywords: Multicultural counseling, international students

Seven Students’ Concept of Harmful and Healthy Spirituality

Jason K. Neill, Ph.D.
Montreat College

Joshua M. Gold, Ph.D.
University of South Carolina


This article addresses seven counseling students’ concept of harmful and healthy spirituality.  The counselor education profession lacks consensus on what defines harmful and healthy spirituality and how to prepare future counselors to address this issue in the counseling setting.  This study was conducted at a large school located in the Southeast.  The researchers used a qualitative phenomenological approach to understand the participants’ subjective experience and define harmful and healthy spirituality, and create potential categories for understanding this phenomenon for counselor educators, supervisors, and clinicians. Implications for the counseling field will be discussed.  

Keywords: spirituality, counselor education, harmful spirituality, healthy spirituality

Ethical Case Study of Antwone Fisher:
Ethical Decision Making for Practicing Counselors

Brownwyn Hockersmith and John Arman
Regis University


This paper explores the therapeutic relationship of the two main characters in the movie Antwone Fisher (2002).  The ethical issues surrounding the relationship between Antwone and his Psychiatrist, Dr. Davenport, are explored relative to the ethical issues of confidentiality, professional boundaries, and professional behavior.  The ACA ethical code violations are presented and an ethical decision making model is detailed.  Lastly, ethical implications for practicing counselors are discussed throughout the paper.

Keywords: therapeutic relationship, confidentiality, professional boundaries, implications for counselors