The Professional Counselor | Volume 10, Issue 4 551 gatekeeping experiences. Third, snowball sampling was used by asking all participants to identify other potential participants who fit our criteria for participation. To meet the study’s eligibility requirements, participants were required to (a) be employed at a CACREP-accredited counselor training program; (b) be instructors or adjunct, full, associate, or assistant professors (Schuermann et al., 2018); and (c) have been involved in at least one emotionally intense gatekeeping experience as a counselor educator. Data Collection Procedures Semi-Structured Interviews After the lead researcher obtained IRB approval, we collected interview data through telephone and Skype interviews. We contacted potential participants with a description of the study, including our definition of emotionally intense gatekeeping, and a copy of the informed consent form. Interested participants responded to our requests via email and the lead researcher scheduled a time to interview them. Semi-structured interview questions were designed from a review of the relevant literature on gatekeeping and our own professional experiences with gatekeeping as counselor educators to gather rich and thick descriptions of the phenomenon (Creswell & Poth, 2018). Interview questions, including “What do you remember most vividly about your emotionally intense gatekeeping experiences?”, were emailed to all participants prior to their interviews. Before audio recording began, all participants created a pseudonym to protect their confidentiality. All interviews were audio-recorded using Garageband. Interviews were between 24 and 45 minutes and were transcribed by Once interviews were transcribed, audio files were deleted. Letter-Writing Activity Once interviews were completed, participants also were invited to complete a letter-writing activity based on their emotionally intense gatekeeping experiences. Letter writing can provide a concrete and lasting record of one’s experiences as opposed to spoken words, which usually disappear after they are spoken (Goldberg, 2000). We used this letter-writing activity to help triangulate the data. The letterwriting instructions asked participants to revisit their emotionally intense gatekeeping experiences, if other prior life events may have influenced their perceptions of gatekeeping, and what, if anything, they learned from these experiences. We received three letters, ranging from 94 to 2,027 words (M = 786). Data Analysis We used Moustakas’ (1994) five-step transcendental phenomenological process to analyze the data. First, prior to reading the transcribed interviews and letters, the research team (composed of all three authors of this article) met and existentially bracketed (Gearing, 2004) their experiences with emotionally intense gatekeeping, identifying biases or presuppositions. Next, we read the transcripts and letters twice independently and began familiarizing ourselves with participants’ experiences. We reconvened to discuss our initial impressions of the data and engaged in horizontalization (Moustakas, 1994), or highlighting and clustering significant statements into groups with similar meaning. Forty-six initial codes were created and grouped into clusters to generate textural descriptions of the phenomena. We met three more times to discuss our emerging themes, reconcile any discrepancies in our analysis, and reach consensus on the findings. In between each meeting, team members independently reflected on the codes and emerging phenomena. We reconvened a fifth time and developed nine larger themes that were organized as textural and structural clusters, or meaning units (Starks & Brown Trinidad, 2007). Through this process of phenomenological reduction (Moustakas, 1994), we refined our themes and identified the crucial elements of participants’ experiences. At this point, two themes were discarded because of inconsistent support and a lack of consensus among the research team. Next, an external auditor, who was a counselor educator with qualitative research experience and numerous publications in counseling journals, reviewed the initial coding and theme construction and provided feedback to