A Qualitative Investigation Exploring Feelings of Incompetence Among Counselling Interns


  • Brad Daly University of Ottawa
  • Nick Gazzola University of Ottawa




The aim of this study was to develop an understanding of how three Masters level counselling students completing their internship manage their feelings of incompetence (FOI). In this study, FOI refers to occasions when a counselling intern believes that “his or her ability, judgment, and/or effectiveness as a therapist is absent, reduced, or challenged internally” (Theriault & Gazzzola, 2008, p.20). The two theoretical approaches used in this study were the Imposter Phenomenon and the Self- Efficacy theory. Drawing on Thematic Analysis, inspired by Grounded Theory, the results of this study demonstrate that FOI can have negative emotional and physical effects, but if managed appropriately can also have benefits.

Author Biographies

Brad Daly, University of Ottawa

Brad Daly is a 2nd year MA candidate studying at the University of Ottawa under the supervision of Dr. Nick Gazzola. Brad is conducting research on the experience of Counselling Psychology students during their internship. 

Nick Gazzola, University of Ottawa

Dr. Nick Gazzola Bio: Dr. Nick Gazzola is a Full Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Nick Gazzola teaches graduate courses in Counselling Psychology and conducts research in individual counselling identity, counselling collective identity, counselling supervision processes, and the experience of the therapist in the process of counselling.


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