Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education (PhD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


David Christian

Committee Member

Leslie Jo Shelton

Second Committee Member

Erin Popejoy

Third Committee Member

Kristin Higgins


Professional disposition plays an important role in counselor-in-training (CIT) development. Disposition is defined as the attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviors that contribute to a becoming a professional (Spurgeon et al., 2012). In addition, disposition is an attribute that must be evaluated and remediated as a part of accreditation through the council for accreditation of counseling and related educational programs (CACREP). Despite, the importance of disposition in CIT development and the requirement from CACREP, there are several difficulties related disposition. First, there is not a universally accepted definition for disposition in counselor education. In addition, there are few psychometrically tested dispositions assessments available for formal evaluation. Lastly, remediation and gatekeeping of disposition is required, but there are no clear guidelines on how to manage disposition.

The purpose of this study was to explore how counselor educators define, assess, and manage CIT disposition throughout the gatekeeping process. Seventeen counselor educators from CACREP accredited programs participated. A constructivist grounded theory was conducted to find emergent themes of counselor educators experiences of defining, assessing, and managing disposition. Findings revealed that counselor educators have a working definition for disposition, assess disposition regularly, and manage disposition as needed. In addition, participants revealed that they learned how to define, assess, and manage disposition from education and employment. Lastly, participants revealed supports and barriers to defining, assessing, and managing disposition. Fellow faculty members and administration can be both a support and barrier and the complex nature of disposition was found to be a barrier. The findings suggest there is room for continued research, regarding how counselor educators define, assess, and manage disposition. Implications and recommendations for counselor educators and counseling programs are included.