Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Herbert Exum, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Cindy Topdemir, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tony Tan, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Jeffrey Kromrey, Ph.D.


Self-Compassion, Counselor Wellness, Self-Care, Positive Lifestyle Behaviors


According to the American School Counseling Association (ASCA, 2010), school counselors are charged with meeting the academic, social/emotional and career needs of all students (2010). In addition, school counselors serve as the front line in dealing with trauma and crisis in their schools. Those counselors who understand the importance of their own wellness and practice healthy lifestyle behaviors are better equipped to meet these demands.

Unfortunately, not all school counselors are practicing what they advocate for their students relative to promoting wellness in their own lives (O'Halloran & Linton, 2000). This lack of congruence, where school counselors are not modeling the positive lifestyle and self-care behaviors they expect of their students, may take a toll on counselors’ emotional health.

Research has been conducted exploring counselor wellness through the lens of compassion fatigue and burnout, but there has been limited research from a strength-based perspective specifically with school counselors. This study aims to add to the literature and explore the experiences of individual school counselors who can prioritize and integrate wellness principles and self-compassion behaviors and have been able to persist in the profession for 10 years or more.

Seven school counselors participated in semi-structured interviews that explored their experiences regarding wellness behaviors and the practice of self-compassion. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the qualitative data. Results indicated school counselors do integrate self-compassion and positive wellness behaviors. All participants shared several wellness practices such as, scheduling and modeling self-care, seeking out opportunities to increase their knowledge in the area of wellness as well as the practice of self-compassionate behavior.