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Amidst growing literature regarding the importance of spirituality within counseling and counselor education, little is known of the experiences of doctoral students regarding their religious and spiritual backgrounds while matriculating through their doctoral program. This research explored the experiences of four researcher-participant counselor education doctoral students from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds. This exploration deepened their understanding of the role their religious and spiritual identities played in their thoughts, emotions, challenges, and strengths of their experiences. A phenomenological autoethnography method was used for this study. A unique data analysis procedure was developed called Integrative Group Process Phenomenology (IGPP), which was used to analyze journal and music data. The overarching experience was described as a journey with four primary categories of themes identified: painful experiences, learning and awareness, velocity (i.e., themes descriptive of movement and action), and connect versus disconnect. This research brought to light the challenges that counselor education doctoral students may encounter in their training, while highlighting the strength and resilience that religion and spirituality may offer. Recommendations, limitations, and implications for the counseling profession are offered to further the development of research regarding religious and spiritual experiences. © 2018: Alyse M. Anekstein, Lynn Bohecker, Tiffany Nielson, Hailey Martinez, and Nova Southeastern University.


© 2018 the authors. Published under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

Anekstein, A. M., Bohecker, L., Nielson, T., & Martinez, H. (2018). Godspeed: Counselor Education Doctoral Student Experiences from Diverse Religious and Spiritual Backgrounds. The Qualitative Report, 23(11), 2862-2882.