Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling & Human Services


Counselor Education and Supervision

Committee Director

Gülşah Kemer

Committee Member

Emily Goodman-Scott

Committee Member

Helen Crompton


Counselor education researchers have explored the need for high levels of cognitive complexity (CC) in mental health counselors due to its relationship with high quality counseling skills and counselor ways of being (e.g., Castillo, 2018; McAuliffe & Lovell, 2006; Ridley et al., 2011; Welfare & Borders, 2010b). In these studies, researchers have called for continued study of means of enhancing CC in counselors in training (CITs) through andragogical efforts (e.g., Castillo, 2018; Duys & Hedstrom, 2000; Welfare & Borders, 2010a). However, we do not have an understanding of minimally acceptable CC for graduating CITs. In this study, I explored counselor educators’ perspectives of a minimally acceptable level of CC in master’s level CITs at the end of internship. I followed three primary steps of Q method which yielded two factors, titled: (1) Trainee’s Conceptual Integration Ability and (2) Trainee’s Ability to Apply Integrated Knowledge. The findings of this study inform teaching, supervision, and gatekeeping practices in counselor education programs, filling in the gaps for how we assess CC and prepare students to be more cognitively complex in their thinking. This dissertation outlines and details the background, purpose, significance, methodology for the present study, including a review of the existing literature, explanation of results, and a discussion pertinent to counselor educators.


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