Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Liu, William M

First Committee Member

Westefeld, John S

Second Committee Member

Ali, Saba R

Third Committee Member

Ehly, Stewart W

Fourth Committee Member

Bills, David B


This dissertation describes a qualitative investigation of two research questions: "What do homeless individuals perceive to be the critical incidents that led to their homelessness?" and "What do people who are homeless recommend for how counselors can help the homeless and individuals at risk of becoming homeless?" Twenty-five participants were recruited from an Iowa City homeless shelter and were interviewed using an interview protocol. Participants were asked to provide detailed accounts of critical incidents that led to their homelessness and recommendations for counselors who would be working with people who are homeless or at a risk of becoming homeless. The critical incident technique, a qualitative research methodology, was used to develop the research design and analyze data. From the 25 interviews, 238 useful responses were extracted creating 34 unique categories. Eleven overarching themes were derived, representing groupings of categories. There were seven themes and 18 corresponding categories describing participant responses about the critical incidents that led to their homelessness. The first theme was Employment, Finances, and Resources with the categories Loss of Employment, Resource Problems, Job Search Difficulties, and Financial Problems. The second theme was Interpersonal Incidents with the categories Isolated from Interpersonal Support, Domestic Dispute, Domestic Abuse, and Burdening Interpersonal Support. The third theme was Substance Abuse with the categories Substance Abuse of Participant and Substance Abuse of Other. The fourth theme was Significant Difficult Events with the categories Traumatic Event, Conned/Robbed, and Natural Disaster. The fifth theme was Illness with the categories Psychological Illness and Physical Illness. The sixth theme was Legal Problems with the category Legal Incidents. And the seventh theme was Choices with the categories "I made poor choices" and Choice to Be Homeless. There were four themes and 16 corresponding categories describing the participants' recommendations to counselors who want to work with people who are homeless or people who might be at a risk to become homeless. The first theme was Types of Counseling with the categories Substance Abuse Counseling, Employment Counseling, Family Counseling, Supportive Counseling, and Other Types of Counseling. The second theme was Counseling Not Enough with the categories Counselor Not Helpful, Spirituality Component Needed, Counseling for Other Needed, and Personal Responsibility. The third theme was Counselor Characteristics/Knowledge with the categories Caring Counselor Characteristics, Familiarization with Population, and Understand Etiology of Problem. The fourth theme was Resources with the categories Resource Problem, Accessibility of Services, Shelter Service is Helpful, and Approach Clientele. An overview of relevant literature, a detailed explanation of the critical incident technique, a description of the results, and a discussion of the results and limitations for this study are provided in this dissertation.


Counseling, Homeless


2, vi, 158 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 146-158).


Copyright 2010 Ren Francis Stinson