Date of Conferral





Counselor Education and Supervision


Katherine Coule


Gatekeeping is an essential function within the counselor education training system that is aimed at helping counselors in training (CIT) achieve competency to practice. The process entails monitoring counselor development at critical points in the process of entering the profession. However, there continues to be gateslippage, with a high percentage of CITs with problematic behaviors completing their training programs, putting the public at risk. There is a lack of research focused on understanding gatekeepers’ lived experiences, including how they resolve challenges within the system. The purpose of this hermeneutic study was to understand the lived experiences of gatekeepers in the counseling profession, including those related to gatekeeping challenges and how they are addressed in the counselor education system. The emerging gatekeeping theory proposed by Ziomek-Daigle and Christensen provided the conceptual framework for exploring the gatekeeping phenomenon. The data collection and analysis process focused on how gatekeepers make meaning of their experience. Five themes with eight subthemes emerged. The five themes were (a) protecting client welfare as an anchor, (b) using an internal gatekeeping process aligns best practices, (c) supportive relationships and the significant impact in gatekeeping, (d) gatekeeping experiences have an impact on the gatekeeper, and (e) gatekeeping experiences and impact lead to evolving best practices. The findings highlight how gatekeeping is an essential process, cannot be done in isolation, and individuals learn from their experiences. These results may inform the counselor training community about best practices to help decrease gateslippage, which may result in better client care and lead to positive social change.