Bridging the Gap: Understanding the Experiences of LPC Associates
Counselor education standards dictate it is the responsibility of counselor education programs to orient counselors in training to career opportunities, roles, and duties they can expect to engage in after graduation. However, studies have found that novice counselors’ expectations for their career do not match the realities they face upon entry into the profession This discrepancy can result in feelings of disillusionment, burnout, and ultimately may lead to novice counselors exiting the profession. This study explored the experiences of pre-licensed counselors’ transition from graduate training to work in the field and sought participants’ perceptions of their graduate training. The researcher interviewed sixteen Licensed Professional Counselor Associates (LPC Associate) from the state of Texas. Using transcendental phenomenological analysis, the researcher identified seven themes: emotional experiences, stressors, historical complications, variation in attitudes, gap in preparation, recommendations, and mediators of experiences. Findings are discussed in relation to the lifetime developmental model of counselor development (LDM; Skovholt & Rønnestad,1992), reality shock, and related literature. Implications for counselors in training, educators, supervisors, and the field are addressed. Recommendations for future research studies are also provided.