Date of Conferral





Counselor Education and Supervision


Melinda Haley


Human trafficking is a social epidemic that impacts people globally. Human trafficking survivors are often left with a variety of physical and mental health concerns that need to be addressed by counselors. Due to the complex nature of the trauma, counselors may be unprepared to work with survivors. Using a qualitative transcendental phenomenological approach, this study looked at counselors’ perceived preparedness to work with human trafficking survivors by asking what counselors’ experience had been when working with survivors, and what information they would need to know to feel better equipped to work with such survivors. Seven licensed counselors who worked with at least one human trafficking survivor were interviewed. Data was analyzed through a transcendental phenomenological lens. Based on the data analysis, 6 themes emerged: (a) the inherent complexity of working with human trafficking survivors, (b) the importance of trust, safety, and care for creating a place for healing, (c) the need for counselors to engage in self-awareness and self-care, (d) the need for trauma-informed training via coursework or experience, (e) the need for professional training on working with human trafficking survivors, and (f) the importance of professional support and collaboration. Within those 6 themes 4 subthemes emerged: (a) professional experience, (b) personal experience, (c) supervision, and (d) collaboration and consultation surrounding counselor preparedness to work with survivors of human trafficking. Through this research, social change implications may include targeted training on human trafficking for counselors, thus better preparing counselors to provide holistic counseling services, and more counselors available to support the complex needs of human trafficking survivors.