Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Fickling, Melissa J.

Second Advisor

Rheineck, Jane

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling and Higher Education (CAHE)


Counseling research shows a lack of information regarding training counselors to work in rural communities. However, more than 80% of the United States land is considered rural. This appears to be an extremely desperate combination of lack of information and training for a large portion of the country’s population. An additional complication to this dynamic is that neither CACREP standards nor the ACA Code of Ethics mandate any specific trainings or address any specific needs of rural communities.

To improve the understanding of rural community dynamics, this qualitative study explored the phenomenological experiences of counselors working in rural communities. This research was conducted with the purpose of better understanding how rural clinicians name their personal experiences and how they identify the benefits and limitations of working in rural environments. This was done through both individual qualitative interviews and through conducting a focus group of counselor educators.

The goal of this research was to not only better understand the experiences of clinicians in rural communities and how they are trained but also to develop policy changes to repair potential deficits and better prepare clinicians to work in rural environments. This study also identified implications for counselor education.


157 pages




Northern Illinois University

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In Copyright

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NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type