Graduation Date



Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Counselor Education and Supervision (ExCES)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Lisa Levers

Committee Member

Gibbs Kanyongo

Committee Member

Matthew Walsh


Counseling; Education; Supervision; Trauma


Trauma is ubiquitous in our society, taking a costly toll on the physical and psychological well-being of individuals across all social strata, and creating an ever-increasing need for better understanding of how to help the victim survivors.

The purpose of this current study addresses an aspect of that need for understanding by examining the lived experiences of clinicians who have learned about trauma and who are addressing trauma survivors’ needs by acting as supervisors for other clinicians. This qualitative, phenomenologically oriented study used van Manen’s (1990) four lived existentials, Bronfenbrenner’s (1979, 2005) bio-ecological model of human development, and existing trauma literature as its base. Historically, basic trauma education has not been provided to master’s or doctoral level students in counselor education programs. The rapidly expanding base of trauma literature has referenced knowledgeable, competent supervision as a necessity for therapists working with traumatized clients, yet little has been written about those supervisors, how they are trained and educated, and their lived experience in the process of becoming competent trauma supervisors.

For this study, eight clinicians who have been supervising other clinicians who work with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse were interviewed. The results were summarized into five themes that focused on the ubiquity of trauma, the “trial by fire” learning that was required to become knowledgeable, the rise to supervisory roles for which participants were sometimes unprepared, what they needed but didn’t get, and what they deem necessary to support them in their work. The author suggests ways in which the field of counselor education could be enhanced to better support supervisors in addressing the needs of their supervisees, and those of their traumatized clients.