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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Men's Lived Experiences in a Counselor Training Program: A Phenomenological Investigation
by Wise, Suzanna Marie, Ph.D., Northern Illinois University, 2020, 201; 27832440
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative study explored the lived experience of seven counselors-in-training (CITs) who are men in one accredited masters-level counselor preparation program in the Midwestern United States. Over the course of a single interview that ranged in length from approximately one to two hours each, CITs were asked to describe and define their gender identity and expression, describe their experiences of being men in their families and communities, in their respective counseling programs, and as they reflect on the process of becoming a counselor in a woman-concentrated profession. Predominate gender socialization patterns in the United States in which men worked and women stayed at home were disrupted in large part by the decades-long women’s movement which fueled the increase of women in the workplace. However, women were often slated into the helping professions and the “soft sciences” because of assumed characteristics and abilities, such that they became a nontraditional or atypical career choice for men who have different assumed characteristics and abilities. Men who choose to become counselors are a “rare breed” and make up less than 20% of the counselor trainee population. Simply by statistics, these men experience contextual minority status, yet they still carry a certain amount of assumed privilege. This assumed privilege may cause conflict in peer relationships, in student-faculty interactions, and in counselor and professional identity development. Men of color and men of other diverse social locations may additionally experience being a token minority, despite still holding the privilege of being a man in society. In line with the counseling profession’s ethical standards and the standards of the accrediting body, faculty in training programs are expected to be responsive to the intersectional identities of all counselors-in-training if they are to strive for holistic multicultural and social justice competency. To that end, men are not typically considered a cultural group within this paradigm and thus may be overlooked. This study sought to explore their experiences. Following the research question and sub questions in the interpretative phenomenological data analysis, findings indicated a broad range of experiences for men in the counselor training program. Several threads connected some of these men, but one emerged as a thread that connected them all. They each experienced adversity as boys and young men as a result of not fully meeting society’s expectations for masculinity and manhood. Navigating the social consequences of not neatly fitting in, they forged their own path, paths which ultimately led each participant to the profession of counseling, an atypical career choice for men, but an authentic one for these participants.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Fickling, Melissa J.
Commitee: Jaekel, Kathryn S., Carter, Adam W.
School: Northern Illinois University
Department: Counseling and Higher Education
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 81/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education, Counseling Psychology, Gender studies, School counseling
Keywords: Atypical career choice, Counselors-in-training, Gender expression, Gender identity, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, Masculinity
Publication Number: 27832440
ISBN: 9798662379466
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