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Helm, Heather

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Human beings have been curious about the mysteries of the brain for centuries (Bear, Connors, & Paradiso, 2007). Modern advances in neuroscience technology and brain imaging techniques have allowed scientists to see the inner workings of the brains of living people, resulting in increased knowledge and understanding of how the brain functions and how learning occurs (Hardiman, 2012; Sousa, 2017). Findings from neuroscience research are rapidly being used to inform practices in fields such as education (Thomas, Ansari, & Knowland, 2018) and professional counseling (Beeson & Field, 2017; Field, Jones, & Russell-Chapin, 2017; Luke, Miller, & McAuliffe, 2019; Navalta, McGee, & Underwood, 2018; Russell-Chapin, 2016). While neuroscience-informed education and counseling are gaining significant attention and helping to enrich their respective fields, neuroscience-informed counselor education, specifically in regards to teaching and training counseling students, has not matched this momentum. In order to improve and advance counselor education it is important for counselor educators to understand how neuroscience can strengthen the educational process of training counselors and incorporate neuroscience principles related to teaching and learning into their work. The focus of this study was to gain a better understanding of the experiences of counselor educators who use neuroscience to inform their counseling pedagogy and training, specifically their conceptualizations of learning and development, creation of optimal learning environments, and instructional strategies. In this exploration, I hoped to discover meaningful themes in the experiences of counselor educators with neuroscience-informed counseling pedagogy that can support and enhance the field of counselor education. In this phenomenological study, I explored 6 counselor educators experiences integrating neuroscience into their counseling pedagogy. Through multiple interviews and artifact collection, 5 themes were discovered: the neuroscience of learning, the neuroscience of the teaching process, specific methods, neuroscience-informed counselor educator qualities, and beliefs about neuroscience-informed pedagogy. The findings of this study have significant implications for the field of Counselor Education, including greater student learning experiences and outcomes, options for incorporating neuroscience into counseling pedagogy, and specializations in neuroscience-informed pedagogy. Further implications and areas for future research are discussed.


245 pages

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