Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Jesse Owen

Second Advisor

Jennifer Gafford

Third Advisor

P. Bruce Uhrmacher

Fourth Advisor

William E. Cross


Therapists’ cultural humility has shown promise for being a “trait like” quality that improves psychotherapy treatment for marginalized populations (Hook et al., 2016, Owen et al., 2016). However, researchers have emphasized that it is important to establish whether cultural humility can be fostered or developed through training (Davis et al., 2016). The purpose of this study was to understand the phenomenon of trainees being humbled in session during graduate school training and its potential relationship to trainee development. This is the first study to specifically examine the experience of being humbled by clients in session or that explores the potential connection between being humbled and therapists’ humility, perceived cultural opportunities, and cultural comfort. Seven clinical and counseling psychology trainees were asked to describe their experience of being humbled in session by a client, which of their clients’ and/or their own characteristics influenced their experience of being humbled, and whether they view being humbled as influencing their development. The findings suggest that experiences of being humbled instigated shifts away from a “way of doing” therapy and participants’ focusing on themselves, to participants’ developing a “way of being” with clients and focusing on clients’ unique experiences. Given that cultural humility has demonstrated potential for improving psychotherapy relationships and outcomes with clients who have marginalized identities, it is beneficial to study precipitants that might increase trainees’ cultural humility. Increasing the effectiveness of psychotherapy with marginalized populations is worthwhile for increasing equity and for helping those in society who are traditionally underserved. It is hoped that this study will encourage further research into whether cultural humility is a quality that can be trained, and if so, how.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Mackenzie White Jessen

File size

169 pgs

File format





Counseling psychology