Preferred Name

Amy M. Sirocky-Meck

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Debbie C. Sturm

Robin D. Anderson

Renee Staton


After natural disaster, survivors may experience moderate to severe signs and symptoms of emotional distress which may subside or worsen as time passes (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2022). Adults pursuing higher education when natural disaster strikes experience an additional array of unique issues which may exacerbate symptoms of emotional distress (Wilkinson et al.,2013). To create and improve curricular and co-curricular structures that meet the needs of their students, educators in many health and mental health disciplines can draw from a variety of quantitative and qualitative studies, particularly those focused on how their disciplines’ students navigate the experience of natural disaster while enrolled in a program of study (Henneman et al., 2020; Matthieu et al., 2007; Myhre et al., 2017; Szczygiel & Emery-Fertitta, 2021). However, there is little to no extant literature on counseling students’ experiences of surviving natural disaster while enrolled in graduate study. Using a qualitative, phenomenological approach this study sought to fill this identified gap in the literature to inform future inquiry and application. Six themes emerged from data analysis that described participants’ lived experience of natural disaster and perceptions of support offered by their program. The findings are discussed in the context of the research questions that framed the study. Implications for counseling and counselor education programs are presented along with limitations and recommendations for future research.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.