Date of Award

Summer 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling & Human Services

Committee Director

Kaprea Johnson

Committee Member

Narketta Sparkman-Key

Committee Member

Christine Berger


Finding meaning in one’s work as a counselor has been demonstrated as an important step in the development of altruism, an essential component of counselor effectiveness. Previous studies in counselor education-related research involving program outcomes focus on the core skills of counseling such as knowledge, skill building, self-appraisal and self-efficacy. Yet little investigation has concentrated on the internal rewards of the clinical experience, such as the meaning found in or the altruism development derived specifically from the practicum or internship. This dissertation research took a phenomenological approach to explore the meaning-making and altruism development of counselor education practicum students providing social and emotional support to adolescents identified as at-risk. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews to understand former practicum students’ conceptualization of meaning through work and thoughts related to personal altruism development. The themes illuminated through the study suggest that students found challenges in the experience, were able to collaborate toward successful outcomes, related the impact of the experience to working with at-risk adolescents, were able to describe the personal meaning derived from the practicum, and reflected on personal altruism development. Implications for counselor educators and supervisors and suggestions for future research are provided.


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