Winter 2013


For the Winter 2013 edition of Professional Issues in Counseling, we are very pleased to feature seven articles covering an array of topics, including group counseling, play therapy, and multicultural competency in counseling development. 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. As part of the New Year, 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


One Counselor-Trainee’s Journey Toward Multicultural Counseling Competence: The Role of Mentoring in Executing Intentional Cultural Immersion

Laura Shannonhouse
University of Maine

Cirecie West-Olatunji
University of Cincinnati


Though multicultural counseling training is required in counselor education, research suggests that beginning counselors continue to feel underprepared and are found to be ineffective in work with diverse populations. One often-employed training strategy is that of the multicultural immersion experience (MIE). After a brief review of themes and trends regarding the use of MIEs in the multicultural counseling competence (MCC) literature, the authors present a case study, the personal narrative of one graduate counseling student as she reflects upon her MIE to South Africa and Botswana. This reflection is considered in the developmental context of enhancing MCC, with a focus on how mentorship during the immersion fostered that growth.Recommendations for impactful cultural immersion in counselor training are provided along with thoughts on future research.

Keywords: multicultural counseling competence, multicultural training, culturalimmersion, mentorship

A Systemic Approach to Program Evaluation and Student Learning Outcomes in Counselor Education

Leila F. Roach, Brigid M. Noonan, & Sara Meghan Walter
Stetson University


The purpose of this article is to describe the role of program evaluation in counselor preparation, with special attention to student learning outcomes and Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) standards. A systemic approach to continuous evaluation and student learning outcomes implemented by one counselor education program at a private university in the Southeastern United States will be presented. Additionally, a case example to illustrate the process of assessment for a student from admission to graduation will be offered, as well as a discussion of the benefits and challenges to the implementation of the assessment program.

Keywords: counselor education, assessment, program evaluation, learning outcomes

Conceptualized Heterosexual Theory and Identity Development

Breyan N. Haizlip
Georgia Southern University

Scott Schaefle
University of Colorado Denver

Danica Hays
Old Dominion University

Jennifer Cates
Regis University


Through the use of consensual qualitative research and interpretative phenomenology, the present study examined how 50 heterosexually identified counselors-trainees conceptualized their sexual identity development. The results provide support for Conceptualized Heterosexual Theory, which indicates that how heterosexual counselors conceptualize their sexual identity is related to four developmental dimensions: inherent orientation responses, pre-conceptualized heterosexuality, heterosexual identity development, and identification, directed towards 3 distinct identities: interdependent heterosexuality, independent heterosexuality, and unresolved heterosexuality. Implications for counselor education and future research are discussed.

Keywords: heterosexuality, heterosexual identity development, sexual identity development, consensual qualitative research

Cultivating a Healing Environment in Play Therapy Using Neurobiologically Informed Interventions: Two Case Studies

Jennifer Boswell
University of Houston - Victoria

Yvonne Garza, Jeffrey M. Sullivan, & Ian Lertora
Sam Houston State University


In this article, the authors present a treatment protocol that utilizes both traditional child-centered play therapy as well as neurobiologically informed activities. Some researchers in neuroscience posit that trauma therapy should functionally target enhancing brain development at the region of the brain where development was arrested at the time of the trauma. An examination of two case studies is presented using both outcome and process data. Additionally, the clinicians’ perspective of the treatment is discussed.

Keywords: case study, neurobiology, play therapy, trauma

Counseling Masters Students’ Personal Growth Group Experience

Cheryl Neale-McFall
West Chester University

Rebekah Byrd
East Tennessee State University


Participating in and experiencing a counseling growth group is a process that is required in all CACREP-accredited counseling programs. Existent literature suggests that multiple variables may impact participants’ learning in growth groups, and call into question the effectiveness of such groups. Overall, the majority of the research (Barnette, 1989; Hogg & Deffenbacher, 1988; Yalom & Leszcz, 2005) implies that growth groups have the potential to produce meaningful and positive outcomes; however, there are gaps in the literature that do not address the direct experiences of individuals in growth group (Berman & Zimpfer, 1980; Goodrich, 2008). This article presents research that utilized phenomenological methodology to explore the experiences of 13 counseling maters’ students who participated in a growth group as part of their degree requirements. Data were collected through individual interviews and focus groups. Eight themes emerged from the analysis in regard to group process and setting. Awareness gained by participants relevant to the perceived purpose of the group, as well as qualities of effective groupleadership, was also examined.

Keywords: group counseling, qualitative analysis, phenomenological

Perceptions of Critical Thinking: Seeking Instructional Strategies in the Development of Critical Thinking Skills

Kelli Saginak, Thomas Scofield, Alan Saginak, and Renae Reljic
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

Amanda Foege
Pitosi School District


Critical thinking is the goal of post secondary and graduate education with the focus on producing independent professionals. However, research has indicated that while critical thinking is the goal, pedagogy has not adjusted to meet the objective. There has been very little research done exploring pedagogy in relation to critical thought with graduate students, and more specifically, counseling students. In this study, six faculty members and thirty-six students provided written interview responses regarding personal definitions of critical thought, and instructional methods that would teach critical thinking. These responses were examined for themes. Both faculty and students believed critical thinking to be essential to professional counseling practice and felt that students needed to be supported and challenged to develop as critical thinkers. Themes and subthemes are discussed in detail in this article.

Keywords: counselor education, critical thinking, pedagogy, qualitative, instructional design

Surviving Economic Challenges to a Counselor Education Program: One Response in Today’s Recession

Joshua M. Gold and David P. Leach
University of South Carolina


This paper introduces the challenge of economic sustainability facing counselor education programs. A description of one program’s innovative response to this challenge is described, as well as the financial results and outcomes of an on-line student satisfaction survey with this new program. The implications of this innovation for the mission of the program and for future development and study will be offered.

Keywords: innovation, financial sustainability