Date of Conferral





Counselor Education and Supervision


Susana Verdinelli


Licensed professional counselors (LPCs) have encountered difficulties engaging at-risk youth in meaningful treatment. Youth who faced great stress such as abuse, neglect, truancy, family problems, homelessness, and traumatic events have presented with challenging behaviors. Literature suggested adjudicated youth engaged in relational and physical aggression; these behaviors increased the risk for out-of-home placement. Research on community based LPCs’ professional experiences in working with adjudicated female youth is scarce. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to explore community-based counselors' experiences treating female adjudicated youth. Professional counselors' techniques and strategies were explored. The relational-cultural theory provided the conceptual lens through which the study is viewed. Twelve professional counselors consented to 1-hour semistructured phone interviews. Thematic analysis prompted the emergence of three global themes related to meaningful treatment: (a) therapeutic strategies, (b) cross-system collaboration, and (c) expressions of aggression. Building trust and listening to stories is the cornerstone of this inquiry as participants report there is no positive outcome if youth and families do not trust the therapist. LPCs reported resistance from families who did not want an "outsider" entering their home providing treatment, as well as pressure from court systems or schools to "fix the kid" quickly. Participants spoke to the importance of understanding that building trust takes time, and it does not always fit into the ideal service authorization timeline. Results of this study contributes to empirical literature on counseling female adjudicated youth and has the potential to impact public health and safety.