This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Transformative Learning in Counseling Programs through International Experiences: A 25-Year Qualitative Content Analysis of the Counseling Literature




Wright, Steven

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


For decades the counseling profession has emphasized the importance of multicultural competence when working effectively with diverse populations (Arredondo et al., 1996; Korman, 1974; Pederson, 1991; Ratts, Singh, Nassar-McMillan, Butler & McCullough, 2016; Sue et al., 1982; Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1992) however, multicultural competency tends to focus more on people within the United States, as immigrants and other cultural minorities are underserved by healthcare services and receive inadequate care as a result (Abe-Kim et al., 2007; David, 2010; Holden et al., 2012; LaVeist et al., 2000; Shea & Yeh, 2008). One method to prepare counseling professionals to work with individuals from an ever-growing international population is to incorporate transformative learning experiences through international travel exposure in counseling graduate programs (Barden & Cashwell, 2014; Choi et al., 2015; Shannonhouse et al., 2015; Smith et al., 2014). Currently, there is a paucity of professional counseling literature pertaining to the utilization of international experiences in counselor training programs. To aid in counselor preparation, I conducted a qualitative content analysis to explore literature in the field of counseling from 1991-2016 to determine how the profession has addressed international experiences for counselors in the development and facilitation of multicultural counseling competencies through transformative learning. An exhaustive search of the top twenty-two American Counseling Association (ACA) and division’s journals resulted in a total of eight publications. Examination of the resulting counseling literature revealed six predominate themes: (1) disorienting dilemmas, (2) critical reflection, (3) critical consciousness, (4) cultural interaction, (5) relationships, and (6) cultural sensitivity. These six themes reflect all ten stages of Jack Mezirow’s (2000) transformative learning process.