Date of Conferral



Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)




John Schmidt


AbstractLicensure has many benefits to master’s level counselors, including higher wages, legal recognition, and third-party reimbursements, however many professional counselors do not pursue licensure. South Carolina graduates of a master’s level counseling program are not required to obtain licensure in order to provide counseling services. This qualitative comparative case study was conducted to capture why some counseling graduates choose to pursue licensure and others do not based on the experiences, knowledge, skills, and abilities counseling graduates in transition in South Carolina. The research was informed by social cognitive career theory and social learning for career decision making. Participants included four licensed professionals and two non-licensed master’s level clinicians who actively practice counseling in the South Carolina. Semistructured, in-depth interviews were used to gather data. Thematic analysis was employed to examine the data for prominent patterns or trends that may explain the phenomenon of study. Analysis of participant interviews revealed seven key themes: (a) motivation, (b) experience, (c) knowledge, (d) support resources, (e) costs, (f) licensure challenges, and (g) professional challenges. Results revealed a number of ways schools and leaders may help reduce licensure barriers and increase the rate of licensure among South Carolina’s professional counselors. Findings from this study may help stakeholders in organizational psychology in South Carolina to reduce licensure barriers or encourage counseling professionals to pursue licensure.