Date of Award

December 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Human Services


Melissa M. Luke


burnout, counseling, phenomenology, private practice, resilience, wellness

Subject Categories



Private practice counselors who own their practice are unique from agency practitioners in that they function as both counselor and business owner. Therefore, these counselors must work to find a balance between the human aspects of practicing and the logistical business components of owning and operating a practice. The combination of these two roles can pose unique threats to a private practice counselor’s wellness and how they experience of burnout and resilience - which may differ from agency counterparts. Although resilience and burnout experiences and practices in agency and community counselors are prevalent in the literature, there is a lack of research regarding these concepts in private practice counselors and business owners. A descriptive phenomenological study using Husserl’s perspective and Colaizzi’s 7-step method of data analysis was implemented with a sample of 14 private practice counselors who own and operate their own practice in the United States. Private practice counselors described nuanced differences related to owning and operating their own business. Five themes were identified and developed during data analysis: 1. Being Independent but Needing Connection; the need for control, to make and maintain personal and professional relationships, and obstacles to interconnectedness. 2. Successes and Stressors; clients, personal, and professional. 3. Managing The Many Roles; learning by doing, counselor versus business owner, trying to find balance while doing it all. 4. Caring For Self While Caring For Others; tuning into oneself, caring for the busine to care for oneself, and making time for self-care/burnout prevention. 5. Business Beyond The Clients; personal growth, professional growth, and business growth. Study findings affirm the need for further research in the experience of private practice counselors and the need for more extensive trainings to adequately prepare future counseling private practice owners. Study implications and findings are discussed and recommendations for future research are provided.


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