This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

A Phenomenological Study Examining the Experiences of Counselors Working with Grief and Death in Early Childhood




Dennis, Elizabeth Brittany

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


The phenomenological study explores the lived experiences of counselors completed grief work with clients in early childhood that have experienced a grief loss. Semi-structured interviews were completed with participants currently licensed and with several years of clinical experience working with this population and presenting problem. Using a transcendental phenomenological approach, the research sought to understand the previously unknown phenomenon of counselors working within this specialized age group. Nine counselors completed the interview process, and through inductive coding, five themes emerged including: (1) Layered Grief and Dyadic Work, (2) Death Discomfort, (3) Sculpting Developmental Understanding, (4) “Sitting in the Fire/Rain,” and (5) Weight of the Work. Implications for counselors and counselor education and relevance of research findings are discussed.