The Experiences of Rural Mental Health Counselors During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic


Brandi Sawyer

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)



Date of Award

Spring 2023


Little is known how rural mental health counselors respond in disaster situations, and relatively no information exists regarding rural mental health counselors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of this study was to qualitatively explore the experiences of rural mental health counselors during this global crisis. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a significant rise in mental health service demand, and mental health counselors have faced challenges in meeting client needs, using teletherapy almost exclusively, and co-experiencing a global disaster. These challenges are likely exacerbated in rural areas where resources are limited, and mental health counselors experience enhanced occupational stressors. Using purposeful sampling, semi-structured interviews, and thematic analysis, this study yielded five overarching themes that provide rich descriptions of the experience, responses, and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on a sample of 11 rural mental health counselors in Texas. Implications for the field of counseling and future research were also generated from the findings.


Ajitha Kumaran

Subject Categories

Counseling | Social and Behavioral Sciences