The Perceptions of College Counselors Who Have Counseled College Students After Mass Crises: A Phenomenolgical Study

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)



Date of Award

Fall 2016


College counselors provide direct counseling services and care to college students after occurrences of mass crises. Sometimes, the role of college counselors extends beyond serving college students and includes attending to family members and the surrounding community. Often, college counselors are also personally affected by the same crises as their clients while simultaneously trying to adapt to additional responsibilities. In this study, the researcher examined the lived experiences of college counselors who had responded to mass crises on their campuses. Prior to this investigation, no qualitative researchers had looked at the experiences of college counselors who had responded to students after occurrences of natural disasters or human-made crises. In phenomenological research, meanings are sought within the original context of the participants’ accounts. The sample included individuals from varying demographic backgrounds. The interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed using Moustakas’s modified method of the Van Kaam phenomenological model, a seven-stage process that searches for themes, meanings, and understanding. The five themes that were developed from this study were: (a) awareness of the possibility of countertransference, (b) reliance upon training, (c) leadership guidance and collaboration with colleagues, (d) recollection of vivid sensory details, and (e) the importance of professional and personal self-care. These themes were considered as recommendations offered to give counselors, counselor educators, and college administrators an added understanding of the lived experiences of college counselors who counsel college students after the occurrence of mass crises.


Chester Robinson

Subject Categories

Counseling | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Student Counseling and Personnel Services