When Karen Capone ‘09M was ready to complete her doctorate, returning to her alma mater, Ship, was a “no brainer.”

In October, nearly four years after deciding to return, Capone and fellow doctoral student, Tara Byers ’07M, successfully defended their dissertations. This marks the final step in the process to complete the doctorate of counselor education and supervision (Ed.D).

“Successful defense of the dissertation is the final culmination of significant research conducted over the course of years. Prior to the defense, 60 graduate hours of rigorous academic study along with successful completion of a qualifying and comprehensive examination were required in order to sit for the dissertation defense. Truly a milestone in professional development,” explained Dr. Ford Brooks, professor and chair of Counseling and College Student Personnel.

Capone, who manages her private practice KMCounseling, LLC, defended her research topic, “Through the looking glass: A phenomenological exploration of the lived experience of white, female counselors in South Central Pennsylvania as it pertains to privilege and oppression,” in-person on October 16.

“I was super passionate about the ability to explore an untapped area in the field. My hope is that I get published in an academic journal and make a difference in how counselors are developed and help improve the quality of counselors overall,” said Capone.

Byers, the Clinical Director of Children’s Services at PA Counseling Services, Inc., defended her topic “The impact of caregiver trauma on FBMHS: The relationship between caregiver adversity and eco-systemic structural family therapy child client outcome” via zoom on October 14. Similar to Capone, Byers was inspired to fill a research gap.

“I wanted my dissertation to contribute to the literature on family based services and the ESFT clinical model.  There have only been 2 empirical studies published since 1995 on the model so there was a pretty significant gap in the literature,” explained Byers. 

Both Byers and Capone are happy to have completed this intense endeavor but are thankful for the experience.

“The best part of the degree was getting to know the faculty on a deeper level, connecting with other counselors in my cohort, and growing and getting to push myself regardless of every obstacle put in my way,” said Capone.

Ship’s Counselor Education and Supervision, Ed.D. program primarily serves license-eligible and licensed professional counselors who aspire to advance their professional knowledge and standing across advanced practitioner, clinical supervisory, counselor educator and leadership positions in Pennsylvania and beyond.