First Advisor

Murdock-Biship, Jennifer

First Committee Member

Weingartner, Angela

Second Committee Member

Kahlo, Danielle

Third Committee Member

Peterson, Lori

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Document Type


Date Created



College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Applied Psychology and Counselor Education, APCE Student Work


Religious and spiritual (R/S) identities are not stagnant constructs, as may often be believed (Strawn, 2019). The landscape of religion and spirituality is shifting rapidly, and these changes point to individual experiences of R/S transition. One place these kinds of individual changes are occurring is within counselor training. Counselor training can be a transformative experience, and these transformations can include religious and spiritual changes (Nogueiras et al., 2019). Little research explores a broad understanding of religious/spiritual transition, and this gap widens when considering counselors-in-training (CITs) specifically. The purpose of this narrative inquiry was to more fully understand the narratives of counseling students who have experienced religious/spiritual transition during their counselor training. The study sought to understand the narrative arc of the process of R/S transition, including how it related to their personal experiences, overall training experiences, and their counselor identity development. Six participants completed the study through participating in an intial semi-strucutred interview and member-reflection interview. Five of the six participants also provided a visual artifact represting their religious and spiritual transition. Meta categories along temporal lines relating to religious/spiritual transition emerged. Before, During, After, and Overarching Contextual Factors outline the holistic-content analysis of the participant narratives. The Beginning category outlined the importance of formative experiences and how they connected to motivations for pursuing counseling. During contained the most primary themes including Catalysts for Transition, Kinds of Changes During Counseling Program, Characteristics Needed for Change, Counselor Identity, and Counseling Program Experience which included facilitative and unhelpful responses. During experiences were comprised of a variety of experiences that are often disorienting and destabilizing. After explored outcomes of R/S transition as well as recommendations for programs. Finally, overarching contextual factors explored factors that moved across temporal bounds including Systemic Considerations, Religious/Spiritual Identity as a Journey. Themes from the visual artifacts were also explored using a modified version of visuo-texutal analysis (N. Brown & Collins, 2021). Considerations from the visual artifacts alone, connected with text, and then woven together created overarching themes from the visual analysis. Overarching consdierations included the nature of religious and spiritual change as ongoing as well as iterative, and the role that nature plays in spiritual understanding. Limitations of the current study along with future directions for research were explored. The findings indicated a need for counselor educators to attend to religious/spiritual transitions in counselors-in-training. Several recommendations were provided both from the voices of participants as well as interpretation from the holistic narratives. The findings of this study pointed to the presence of R/S transitions in CITs, and moreover, the impacts of these experiences on personal experiences, counselor training, and professional counselor identity development. This study pointed to the importance of counselor educators attending to transformational changes to best support counseling student development as they process through religious/spiritual transitions in whatever way is best for their wellness.

Abstract Format



271 pages

Local Identifiers


Rights Statement

Copyright is held by the author.