Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education (PhD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Erin Popejoy

Committee Member

David Christian

Second Committee Member

Kenda Grover

Third Committee Member

Anthony Vajda


problems of professional competency (PPC), standardization, formal policies, gatekeeping literature, professional development, qualitative research


In counselor education and supervision, the term gatekeeping is used to describe the ongoing process of monitoring, evaluating, and remediating a student through their professional identity as a counselor. Gatekeeping is an ethical responsibility of counselor educators and supervisors, both faculty and doctoral-level students who supervise master’s-level students and is often identified as being one of their most difficult responsibilities. Doctoral-level supervisors play an important role in gatekeeping, although they are not involved in formal gatekeeping decisions and have not typically been the focus of research. Researchers have suggested there is a need to develop a better understanding of how doctoral-level students are prepared for gatekeeping duties and experience the gatekeeping role.

The purpose of this study was to examine how doctoral-level students describe their lived experience of adopting gatekeeping roles and responsibilities within counselor education. Eight doctoral-level students at three accredited counselor education programs participated. A transcendental phenomenological research design was used to identity themes and describe the participants’ experiences. These revealed that doctoral-level students felt unprepared for their roles and responsibilities. The findings suggest that counselor education programs should improve the training and support of doctoral-level supervisors. Implications and recommendations for counselor education programs, counselor educators, and doctoral-level students are included.