Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Education, Counseling

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Emily Brown, PhD


Matthew Taylor, PhD

Phillip Waalkes, PhD

Susan Kashubeck-West, PhD


Counseling and psychotherapy expertise research have been focused on three major areas, namely, characterization of Master Therapists, performance of Healing Involvement, and application of Deliberate Practice. The constructs of adaptive expertise and adaptive performance have never been investigated in the context of counseling or psychotherapy. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to examine the relevance of adaptive expertise in psychotherapy by studying the relationships between adaptive expertise, adaptive performance, and counseling self-efficacy. A total of 460 psychotherapy practitioners from a variety of disciplines and experiences participated in the study, and they included counseling, psychology, social work, and others with experience ranging from 1-48 years. Results reveal that adaptive expertise was associated with counseling self-efficacy, and adaptive performance mediated such interaction. Additionally, practitioners whose work environments encouraged them to step out of their comfort zone and explore alternative ways to work with clients had higher levels of adaptive expertise, adaptive performance, and self-efficacy compared to those who worked at a more restricted environment. Implications of these findings for counselor training, supervision, and professional development are discussed.