This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Weight Bias Amongst Counselors-In-Training: A Qualitative Inquiry




Adams, Lisa

Type of Degree



School Psychology
Counselor Education
Counseling Psychology


Despite the increasing rate of persons who are overweight and issues caused by the trend, individuals who are overweight and related issues have not been addressed properly in the field of professional counseling. The purpose of the current study was to examine the extent of bias that counseling graduate students might have towards clients who are overweight, and student’s perceptions of the issues overweight clients may present in counseling. Fifty-six counselors in training in graduate programs at two southeastern universities participated in the qualitative study. Students responded to a case study including photographs of a client who is displayed either as overweight or normal weight. Seven themes emerged from the study. The primary finding was that the participating counselors in training have implicit negative bias towards clients who are overweight. Implications for further research, counselor education, and counseling practice were presented.