Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 1-1-2017


Worldwide Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Counselor Education and Supervision (ExCES)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Lisa Lopez-Levers

Committee Member

Waganesh Zeleke

Committee Member

Michelle Zuckerman-Parker


burnout, job-stress, mindfulness, school counselor, Self-care, yoga


The purpose of this study was to examine the lived experiences of school counselors participating in yoga. The primary objective of this research was to gain a thick, rich understanding of how school counselors experience the practice of yoga. A secondary objective of this study was to gain an understanding of how the regular practice of yoga can serve as a method of self-care for school counselors. This qualitative, phenomenologically-oriented study employed van Manen’s (1990) four lived existentials, Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) bio-ecological model of human development, and current mindfulness literature as its theoretical underpinnings.

School counselors regularly face many issues that can create job-related stress. The research literature recognizes role ambiguity, work with traumatized students, excessive caseloads, dealing with school violence, and crisis counseling as potential job-related stressors (Rayle, 2006). If school counselors do not confront job-related stress through regular self-care, compassion fatigue and burnout may result over time (Rayle, 2006). Therefore, the school counselor has an ethical responsibility to practice self-care (Stebnicki, 2007). Practicing yoga has been suggested in the research literature as a potential method of self-care.

Yoga is becoming exceptionally popular in mainstream Western society. The research literature has identified that yoga can be an effective intervention for many different aspects of self-care, including reduction of stress and anxiety (Khalsa et al., 2009; Telles et al., 2009). However, there is a lack of research concerning the use of yoga and how it may serve as a method of self-care and an intervention for school counselors in preventing burnout and compassion fatigue.

This study is a hermeneutic phenomenological study of yoga as a potential method of self-care. The research conducted in this study was qualitative in nature, and the participants were school counselors who participate in regular yoga practice. The data collection process consisted of semi-structured interviewed designed to illuminate the lived experiences of school counselors participating in yoga. Interview data was considered and discussed through the lens of van Manen’s lived existential framework and Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological model of human development.

The findings in this study indicated that school counselors find yoga to be an effective method of self-care in preventing burnout and increasing professional integrity. The risk and protective factors that enhance or hinder school counselor’s development were explored. Specific recommendations are provided for counselor education programs, school counseling professional organizations, school counselor employers, and school counselors in order to better address the importance of school counselor job stress and self-care.