A conceptual matrix for the development of professional identity as a counselor educator is presented as a method of promoting self-management for doctoral-level counselor education students. Seven areas of intentionality are discussed, suggested activities are provided in each category for a 4-year program period, and implications for current and aspiring counselor educators are presented.
A number of counselor education students enter the doctoral-level training program with some degree of professional experience. This professional experience may be in the counseling field, or it may be in another related field such as educator or community officer. In the transition from community professional to student to university professional, it is essential that counseling students maintain contact with the professional piece of their career identity (Johns, 1996). Furthermore, it is important that counselor educators, as well as students, understand the implications of the dynamics within these transformations (Skovholt & Ronnestad, 1995; Wilkins, 1997). Advisers to counseling students and other department members assist students who are transitioning toward the professorate. Too often these advisers rely solely on their own experiences or use literature from various noncounseling disciplines, because there is little literature in the counseling field regarding this transition process (Warnke, Bethany, & Hedstrom, 1999). Principally, counseling students are responsible for their own educational experience, and by actively monitoring and shaping their own journey, they will engage in self-management opportunities that will ultimately increase possibilities for success in the academy. Elements of self-efficacy theory illustrate this point. People are not merely ill-fated spectators to external events or internal psychological forces, but, rather, they are enthusiastic creators through self-reflection and self-regulation, as well as through goal articulation and plan development (Lent & Maddux, 1997). Entry-level students with professional experience possess a broad array of skills that they bring with them into the counselor education training program. These skills often include organization, time management, coordination, consultation, intervention, and a sense of professional identity that has fostered self-confidence.
The decision to enter a counseling program often emerges from the desire to enhance both personal and professional growth. The self-empowerment and the motivation demonstrated in the decision to enter the advanced degree program may be minimized or repressed as the community professional assumes the student role. This minimization may occur when students enter a social context that triggers the releasing of personal power to authority figures. One example of this is when the decision-making stage of this process is initially relinquished to doctoral-level faculty (Warnke et al., 1999).
The beginning of the graduate student experience may be especially trying for students. Research indicates greater attrition when expectations of the new student and faculty are mismatched (Hoskins & Goldberg, 2005), and it is typically in the early stages of the program that the student initially becomes aware of such expectations. It is also at the beginning of the program when a student is often faced with the challenge of new values and priorities (Kerlin, 1995). This challenge of aligning personal values with that of the academy may lead to a sense of losing oneself (Dryden & Feltham, 1994; Dryden & Thorne, 1991; Nyquist & Manning, 1999). Developing a strong social network may help alleviate some of this feeling of disconnection. Important variables for positive socialization include the degree to which the student feels competent, the degree to which the student understands what is expected (Hoskins & Goldberg, 2005), and the degree to which the student feels accepted and supported by peers and faculty (Bauer & Green, 1994; Hodgson & Simoni, 1995; Schlosser & Gelso, 2001). …