This study is a qualitative investigation of master's degree level counselors' perceptions of their experiences and development during their first professional year after graduation. The main research questions of the study are (1) what is the first professional year like for master's degree level counselors?, (a) what are the challenges master's degree level counselors face during the first professional year?, (b) what are master's degree level counselors' perceptions regarding their preparedness for their first professional year?, and (c) what are master's degree level counselors' perceptions regarding their own professional counselor development during their first professional year?
Grounded theory methodology was used for data collection and analysis. Theoretical sampling of participants occurred in order to maximize opportunities to discover variations among concepts and to expand the limits of the research findings until data saturation was reached. Participants were interviewed from a semi-structured phenomenological stance. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed on an on-going basis throughout the study so that themes could be identified and negative cases sought out until data saturation was reached. Steps in analysis involved microanalysis, open coding, axial coding and finally selective coding per Strauss and Corbin's prescribed approach.
The results uncovered a rich model of master's degree level counselor development and experiences in the first professional year whereby aspects of the counselor's existing self interact with current factors that support and challenge the counselor as they attempt to deal with the primary tasks and experiences of the first professional year. The integral aspects of the counselor's existing self were found to include personality, self-awareness, coping styles, and past education and clinical training. The interacting support and challenge factors that emerged fell under three categories: relational, environmental, and educational. The dominant primary tasks and experiences that emerged were: adjusting to realities of the job/field, managing practical aspects, managing wavering confidence, managing emotional aspects of the work, managing independence, and gaining clinical confidence.
|Advisor:||Erickson, Chris D.|
|Commitee:||Kennelly, Ivy, Marotta, Sylvia A., Megivern, Monica, Ruoff, Janis, Thompson, Barbara|
|School:||The George Washington University|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||DAI-B 70/07, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Developmental psychology, Clinical psychology|
|Keywords:||Counselors, Development, First, Master's degree, Postgraduate, Professional, Professional development|
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