Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Research Cognition and Development

First Committee Member

Paul Jones

Second Committee Member

Dale E. Pehrsson

Third Committee Member

William E. Cross Jr.

Fourth Committee Member

Cecilia Maldonado-Daniels

Number of Pages



Although research has effectively isolated and identified the key characteristics of a culturally competent counselor, there are few studies regarding the acquisition of these characteristics. To close the gap between theory and practice, studies are needed researching the emergence and, acquisition of these characteristics. This study explores how Masters-level Counselor Education students narrate the encounters, challenges, triumphs and epiphanies associated with their preliminary attempts to practice in a culturally competent manner. This phenomenological inquiry seeks to shed light students attitudes, beliefs and dispositions; defines the processes related to the acquisition of cognitive awareness and learning, skills and abilities; and illuminates how students describe their individual progress toward the acquisition of the traits and characteristics of a culturally competent counselor. Data was subjected to content analysis. The Cultural Competency Domains Model set the framework for analysis. The findings inform development of pedagogy.

The analysis revealed the challenges, discomfort, angst and discoveries associated with self-understanding and self-confrontation regarding students cross cultural abilities and skills during their earliest exposure to issues of race, ethnicity, culture, religion, age, gender and sexual orientation. Six core themes emerged: (1) Attitudes, beliefs and dispositions. (2) Cognitive awareness and learning. (3) Skills and abilities. (4) Cultural competence. (5) Opinions about school. (6) Self-assessment. Recommendations for educators are offered.


Cognitive awareness; Counseling competence; Counselor education; Cross-cultural counseling; Cultural competence; Educational counseling – Study and teaching; Metacognition; Pedagogy; Phenomenology; Student counselors


Counseling Psychology | Educational Psychology | Multicultural Psychology | Student Counseling and Personnel Services

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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