Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling & Human Services


Derek Seward

Second Advisor

Beth Ferri


CACREP;counseling students;counselor education;perceived wellness;professional identity;self-care

Subject Categories

Counseling Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Counseling students tend to experience high levels of stress during their training (Coaston & Lawrence, 2019). It is known that they can be at high risk of burnout, incompetence, or impairment if they neglect to engage in self-care and wellness practices (Dye et al., 2020; Prikhidko et al., 2020). While these findings have been validated for professional counselors (Rummell, 2015), as well as studied separately in counseling students (Prikhidko et al., 2020), there have not been any studies on how counseling students’ self-care practices and perceived wellness impacts their professional identity. This research study helped to fill the gap in literature by examining the relationships between self-care, perceived wellness, and professional identity among counseling graduate students. This study also explored the potential mediating role of perceived wellness on the relationship between self-care and professional identity within a national sample of master’s-level counseling students in CACREP accredited counseling programs. Additionally, the study investigated if gender and year of study impact counseling students’ self-reports of perceived wellness, self-care, and professional identity. The results of Pearson’s correlation showed that self-care and professional identity were statistically significant positive related, indicating that self-care practices have a significant positive impact on professional identity. Similarly, the results of Pearson’s correlation showed a statistically significant positive relation between self-care and the perceived wellness, suggesting that self-care practices and perceptions positively influence each other. However, the proposed relationship between perceived wellness and professional identity was not supported by the data in this study. The study did not find any gender differences. Regarding the year of study, the results showed that novice students tend to have higher self-care practices compared to advanced students. These insights demonstrate the importance of integrating proactive self-care and wellness training into counseling education, potentially through mandatory classes, cross-disciplinary courses, and internship-focused interventions. Such strategies aim to foster a robust professional identity and contribute to healthier, ethically grounded counseling practices.


Open Access