Date of Award

Winter 2009

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counselor Education and Supervision

Committee Director

Danica G. Hays

Committee Member

Theodore Remley

Committee Member

Jennifer N. Fish


The purpose of this study was to investigate the contextual and definitional qualities of professional identity as well as the perceptions of success as defined by female counseling professionals. The ideals and beliefs related to professional identity were examined in order to determine if they are upheld by females who practice as professional counselors, counseling doctoral students, and tenure-track counselor educators. Findings indicated 16 themes that addressed issues related to personal and professional congruence and the counseling philosophy; particularly with regard to a conflict with the professional success model as it intersected with personal and professional roles. The information gathered through a grounded theory approach was subsequently used to create an inventory to assess professional identity and success based on the perspectives of women in the field. This inventory was reviewed by experts and consensus coding team members prior to distribution. A quantitative analysis of the inventory was then conducted with male and female participants from the same professional demographic pool as the qualitative portion of the study. Discriminant, correlational, and regression analyses were performed in order to determine if the new inventory was compatible with the values and perspectives of female professionals and with a previously developed inventory developed to assess the counseling professional identity. Male professionals were included in quantitative procedures and analyses. Males were included in the analysis to determine if the data related to the responses of female counseling professionals were significantly different than those of their male counterparts. Significant statistical and practical differences for gender, status of development (student, faculty, and practitioner roles), family composition, and amount of income participants allocated to professional activities were found. Gender differences indicated significantly higher subscale scores for male professionals with regard to engagement and development and lower subscale scores for professional beliefs and orientation. Those who spent between 6-20% of their annual net income on professional activities were found to have significantly higher subscale scores across all dimensions of both instruments used. Implications for training and the counseling field are presented with the findings.