This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

A Review of the Perceived Critical Incidents of Counselors-in-Training in Practicum




Lacy, Virginia

Type of Degree





Counselor educators and supervisors have long acknowledged the importance of both personal and professional development throughout the process of counselor training. Counseling researchers seeking to better understand this process have used critical incidents, or moments in training that are perceived as being impactful to professional counselor development, as a way to better understand this development for students. The present study looked to identity reported perceived critical incidents among a particular group of students enrolled in their first Practicum course. Students submitted reflective journal entries throughout the semester that were analyzed using psychological phenomenological techniques. Themes were isolated for the beginning, middle, and end of the semester and were also combined to create a picture of the overall themes of the semester. The primary themes that emerged showed that students reported perceived critical incidents related to concerns regarding the management of their practicum experience, skill development, the need to process client content and personal emotions, the role of supervision, and their professional counselor development. Better understanding the emergence and domination of certain themes during certain periods of the semester can provide counselor educators and supervisors more insight as to how best to structure and approach novice counselors-in-training.