This descriptive phenomenological study focused on counselor educators’ (CESs) experiences infusing military culture into counseling curriculum. Specifically, this study sought to learn what counseling programs can do to best prepare counselors-in-training to work with military families. The researchers used the McCracken (1988) method to interview ten participants who had terminal degrees in counselor education or a highly related field, experience providing services to military-connected clients, and were aware of military cultural facets (e.g., implicit and explicit expectations, rules, and ways of being). The findings support the need to redefine multiculturalism and intentional infusion of military culture in counseling curriculum to increase counselors’ awareness of military culture to provide more effective services.


phenomenology, multiculturalism, military, culture, counselor, competency, counselor education

Author Bio(s)

Katherine M. Atkins is an assistant professor at the Family Institute at Northwestern University. She is an advocate for increased research, training, and implementation of military culture in counselor education as she is passionate about improving mental health among military populations. Additionally, Dr. Atkins focuses her research on cultural immersions, transcultural counseling, and grief, loss, and bereavement. Dr. Atkins is a licensed counselor and an approved clinical supervisor and still holds her professional educator license in school counseling. She earned a PhD in counselor education and supervision and a master’s degree in counseling. Dr. Atkins has worked in various settings helping children, adolescents, and adults. Additionally, Dr. Atkins is the recipient of the 2023 Teaching Excellence Award from The Family Institute at Northwestern University, the 2016 School Counselor Educator of the Year Award from the Illinois School Counseling Association, and the 2015 Outstanding Women Student Award from Northern Illinois University. Dr. Atkins has advanced training in Military Culture, Grief, Loss, and Bereavement, Gottman Couples Therapy, Trauma and Emotional Focused Therapy with Couples, Neuro-Emotional Techniques, Eating Disorders, and the Enneagram. Please direct correspondence to katherine.atkins@northwestern.edu.

Toni R. Tollerud is a Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita in the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. As an educator for over 48 years, Dr. Tollerud has had extensive experiences in supervision training including student teachers, school counselors, agency counselors, and counselors-in-training. These experiences have been beneficial in helping to develop the supervision course at NIU as well as doing numerous presentations around the state and at conferences on issues related to supervision. Over the past 30 years she has consistently taught core courses, especially in supervision, ethics, and counseling skills. Participants in her classes and workshops come away enthused and informed regarding the ways they can improve their own supervisory skills and relationships. Dr. Tollerud is a past president of the Illinois Counseling Association, North Central Association of Counselor Educators and Supervisors, and the Illinois Counselor Educators and Supervisors. She has received numerous awards for her professional work including the Illinois Mental Health Counselors Association Outstanding Service Award in 2006, the IMHCA Impact Award in 2019, Illinois Counselor Educators' Educator Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, and the ICA Distinguished Leadership Award in 2010. She has published numerous articles and book chapters on counseling issues. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor, National Certified School Counselor, Approved Clinical Supervisor, and a graduate of the University of Iowa. She also holds certificates for elementary and secondary teaching and school counseling for the State of Illinois. Please direct correspondence to tollerud@niu.edu.

Tilottama (Tanya) Roy-White, MA, is a graduate of Northwestern University's Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program. Tanya is dedicated to providing evidence-based and compassionate care to individuals struggling with mental health concerns, with a focus on treating anxiety, depression and trauma. Tanya's expertise includes utilizing elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy, acceptance-commitment therapy, mindfulness-based methods, and relational psychodynamic psychotherapy to assist children, adolescents, and adults via individual and group work. Please direct correspondence to tilottamaroy-white2022@u.northwestern.edu.

Lauren E. Brdecka, MA, is a graduate of Northwestern University's Clinical Mental Health Counseling graduate program. Her clinical experiences include substance misuse counseling, LGBTQIA+ populations, first-episode psychosis, trauma/personality disorders, community mental health and private-pay institutions. Lauren currently works at a private practice in Illinois and is a researcher at the Neuroscience Integration Lab at Northwestern University. Please direct correspondence to lbrdecka@gmail.com.

Deanna Chrones, MA, is a licensed counselor in Illinois and Florida. She received a Master of Arts in clinical mental health counseling from Northwestern University. Deanna created a novel, neural-based treatment protocol for the behavioral construct of emotion suppression, which has been implicated in numerous mental disorders, including depressive, anxious, and trauma, among others. The intervention, which is called RELEASE, is under study at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Deanna is also trained in EMDR and certified in hypnosis. Please direct correspondence to deanna.chrones@gmail.com.

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