Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Counseling and Psychological Services
One in five children and adolescents in the United States has a mental health disorder (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1999) and 12.5% of children and adolescents receive treatment in a special mental health setting each year (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2009). Children and adolescents have special needs in counseling, and applying adult based counseling skills and knowledge onto children is inappropriate and unethical (Lawrence & Robinson Kurpius, 2000). There exists no nationally recognized licensure, certification or training standards for professional counselors to work with children and adolescents in non-school settings despite the need for specialized skills. Several scholars have made recommendations for the training of professional counselors who work with this population including coursework and supervised clinical experiences. There has been no examination to date, however, of whether these recommendations are in line with the experiences of professional counselors who work with children and adolescents in non-school settings. It is essential that counselor educators advocate for the students, the profession and the youth by examining what training is necessary. This grounded theory study aimed to identify what the experiences of professional counselors who work with children and adolescents in non-school settings are as well as what training and clinical experiences these professional counselors have. There were 14 participants in the study all of whom had at least 5 years of experiences counseling children and adolescents in a non-school setting, currently practicing, and were perceived by their peers as exhibiting exceptional practice. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews and data analysis included open, axial and selective coding. Trustworthiness was established using peer debriefing, progressive subjectivity, member checks, and detailed record keeping and was confirmed through the audit process. Authenticity was also established. Themes were identified and a theory of skill acquisition to work with children and adolescents in non-school settings was developed. With a greater understanding of the experiences of these professional counselors, counselor education programs can more appropriately construct training experiences thereby producing more competent and prepared professional counselors to work with children and adolescents in this setting.
Walsh, Maggie E., "The Experiences of Professional Counselors Who Exhibit Exceptional Practice with Children and Adolescents in Nonschool Settings." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2012.