Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2024

Document Type

Thesis (699 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Counseling


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Aaron Suomala Folkerds


chronic illness, phenomenology, counseling


The population of individuals experiencing a chronic illness are a marginalized group. This vulnerable status necessitates informed practice by the counseling establishment. This study examines the experiences of the chronically ill population during their participation in mental health treatment to better understand their experiences and inform future practice and research. This study employed phenomenological methodology as described by Creswell (2007) and Moustakas (1994), to examine the lived experiences of four participants drawn from a Fargo area mutual aid group for individuals with ostomies. Seven themes were identified from the resulting data. Four themes related to the experience of chronic illness were: the medical journey, layers of stigma & isolation, loss & grief, and perspective & healing. Three themes related to participants' experiences in mental health treatment were: the therapeutic alliance, practical knowledge & support, and advocacy & access. These themes facilitate discussion into the needs of the chronically ill population and how mental health treatment can more effectively respond to those needs.

Included in

Counseling Commons



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