116 Counselor Education & Supervision • June 2018 • Volume 57
© 2018 by the American Counseling Association. All rights reserved.
Counselor Trainees’ Experiences
A Phenomenological Study
Michele Rivas and Nicole R. Hill
Transcendental phenomenology was used in this study to examine the lived
experiences of counseling interns (N = 10) receiving multicultural training to
assist clients with disabilities. Five essential themes were identiﬁed. Drawing on
their ﬁndings, the authors recommend programmatic and curricular changes,
including the infusion of personal narratives and service learning, to the
multicultural training of counselors.
Keywords: multicultural training, disability, phenomenology, counselor education,
Disability is represented in 19% of the total U.S. population (Brault, 2012)
and in 8.6% of persons under age 65 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2016), and
the population with disabilities is considered the largest minority group
in the United States (Drum, McClain, Horner-Johnson, & Taitano, 2011).
From the overall population with disabilities in the United States, approxi-
mately 19.8 million adults also experienced mental health difﬁculties in
2010 (Brault, 2012). Each year, counselors graduate from programs that
prepare them to work with the variety of clients and cultures that mirror
diversity in society. However, several scholars have documented the train-
ing programs’ lack of responsiveness around disability (Olkin & Pledger,
2003; Pledger, 2003; Reeve, 2000; Smart & Smart, 2006; Swain, Grifﬁths,
& French, 2006). In counselor training, narratives of disability are usually
silenced or deﬁcit-oriented (Pledger, 2003; Smart & Smart, 2006), affecting
how students approach the work with these clients (Reeve, 2000).
However, these narratives may change now that the main counselor certify-
ing bodies in the United States, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling
and Educational Related Programs (CACREP) and the Council on Rehabili-
tation Education (CORE), have merged and CACREP has been designated
to carry the mission of both organizations (CACREP, 2015b; Foster, 2012;
Leong, 2008). This presents an important opportunity to enhance the mul-
ticultural discourse by integrating disability into standards of excellence in
counseling pedagogy, research, and professional practice.
Michele Rivas, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Marist College; Nicole R. Hill,
College of Education and Human Services, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. The
research was conducted when both authors were in the Department of Counseling and
Human Services at Syracuse University. Correspondence concerning this article should be
addressed to Michele Rivas, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Marist College, 3399
North Road, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).