Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Steven Vannoy

Second Advisor

Sharon G. Horne

Third Advisor

Heidi M. Levitt


Since 1910, college counseling centers have assisted students in making academic and developmental progress; they are also important for psychology training, as they offer the largest number of internships of any type of training site. Among the most predominant concerns for students seeking counseling center services are relationship issues, which often include issues related to sexuality, a topic difficult to discuss with clients even for experienced psychotherapy practitioners. Trainee psychologists’ experiences having conversations about sexuality concerns in the context of a college counseling center will inform how psychology trainees may be better prepared to address these issues in practice, as well as how trainee therapists find these conversations helpful during a very critical period in their development as practitioners. Through a grounded theory analysis of 10 interviews with trainee psychologists with experience discussing sexuality in college counseling center settings, a core category emerged noting that during conversations about sexuality, a potentially charged and shame-generating topic, preserving the therapeutic relationship may feel precarious, and trainee therapists may practice in a more Rogerian way to preserve it. Implications for training psychologists in college counseling centers and doctoral programs are discussed.


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