Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




The purpose of this phenomenological investigation was to explore the counseling internship experience and gain knowledge of the variables that counselor interns perceived impacted their psychological growth. The interns who volunteered for the study were participating in a counseling internship to complete their requirements for a master's degree from a CACREP accredited institution. This qualitative study was chronicled for phenomenological analysis by conducting four interviews with each intern during their counseling internship. Further items for data analysis included a record of observations made by the researcher's attendance of their weekly internship class, analysis of videotaped counseling sessions presented in the internship class by use of the Flanders Interactional Analysis for Counseling and written essays of internship goals produced by the interns at the beginning of the internship experience. Cognitive developmental theory was used as a framework for discussion of how knowledge was assimilated and accommodated as interns faced the challenges of counseling clients independently for the first time. Internship sites included substance abuse and family therapy clinics. This phenomenological analysis found the following issues critical to the interns' psychological development: age of the intern, type of clientele at the internship site, supervision, need for sense of personal power (defined as self-reliance, viewing oneself as capable of producing knowledge, and insight into one's own life experiences) to overcome their desire to be authority figure in counseling relationships, and the process of learning case conceptualizations especially with reference to the interns' conceptualization of client-counselor relationships.



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