Date of Award

Winter 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling & Human Services



Committee Director

Garrett McAuliffe

Committee Member

Kathleen Levingston

Committee Member

Theodore P. Remley, Jr.


The purpose of this study was to examine the gatekeeping experiences of a group of PhD counselor educators, by utilizing a phenomenological approach. This design was chosen as it could best examine the lived experiences of the participants. Nine PhD counselor educators participated in this study through a series of two interviews. All of the participants had a general definition of gatekeeping and all were able to express clearly how important the process was in ensuring as much as possible that only qualified students enter their programs, graduate from their programs, and enter the field as effective counselors. Each participant also shared several what they called "horror stories" of students they had worked with and the issues involved, as well as what the results of their gatekeeping efforts were. It was in these stories that some of the challenges, frustrations, and stresses of gatekeeping emerged. Some of the challenges involved non-supportive departments, the difficulty of being able to actually quantify impairment issues, having to decide if the student would be able to mature and improve over time in the program, and what to do with students who grades are good or adequate but whose skill levels are not. These challenges, frustrations and stressors where greatly mitigated, though, by supportive departments and colleagues.

The stories of the participants in this study provided some important details and "color" about what it is like to be a PhD counselor educator, to be ultimately responsible for ensuring that only qualified, effective counseling students leave their program and enter the counseling field. The challenges, rewards, and ultimately the satisfaction of playing a role in the development of future counselors are clearly seen.