The Experiences of Male Counselors of Children Who Have Experienced Trauma

Kathleen Michelle Wallace, Walden University


Men are increasingly underrepresented in counselor education and in the counseling profession, with only 27% of members of the American Counseling Association reporting as men. Men in counseling often feel marginalized and isolated. Additionally, they are socialized to be independent, emotionally and physically strong, and to focus on success, while being discouraged from seeking help. Continual exposure to the trauma material of others can cause secondary trauma, with cumulative deleterious effects identified in this study using the Heidegger's hermeneutic phenomenology. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of male counselors who primarily work with children who have experienced trauma. Using purposive sampling 6 licensed male counselor participants were identified, and semistructured interviews were conducted. A hermeneutic interpretation made through the lens of constructivist self-development theory was used to further elucidate participants' experiences. The 13 themes generated from this data included: (a) counselors' use of an eclectic theoretical approach, (b) majority of the clients had experienced trauma, (c) experiences of vicarious trauma, (d) increased empathy and growth; (e) negative impact of vicarious trauma, (f) help-seeking behavior, (g) denial of help-seeking behavior, (h) additional training, (i) coping skills, (j) supportive supervisors, (k) peer consultation, (l) supervisor role, (m) world is unsafe/people are bad, and (o) increasing knowledge. Implications for social change include empowering current and future male counselors to effectively understand and mitigate negative consequences of vicarious trauma from working with children who have experienced trauma.