The Professional Counselor | Volume 10, Issue 4 567 influencing gatekeeping would be if the counseling handbook states that the program gatekeeps, but there is an unwritten culture in which the administration will not allow the program to dismiss even the most unethical student. Working as a team, the students had 6 weeks to interview administrators and faculty, collect policy and procedure documents, read and apply relevant literature, and prepare a group presentation of a visual ecological gatekeeping map. Gatekeeping and Heartbreaking Adversity in Level 3, Module 2 The final DEG module began with assigned readings of gatekeeping legal cases. Students were then charged with the responsibility to create a non-academic dismissal scenario, write and compile all documentation, and prepare to dramatize the scenario through a mock dismissal hearing. Roles adopted by students for the mock hearing included the fictitious master’s counseling student, the faculty member central to the dismissal scenario, the department chair, and the college dean. The mock hearing was enacted and was judged in real time by a university attorney and a university administrator (a dean or provost). Immediately following the hearing, the judges processed the hearing with the students, offering legal and procedural corrections. Students then reflected on the experience. Method The question “What are the lived experiences of doctoral students as they engage in gatekeeping instruction?” was addressed through qualitative methodology. Because we were interested in the subjective experiences of the student learners, the qualitative study was conducted using a phenomenological approach (Creswell, 2013; Moustakas, 1994). Investigation through deep exploration of lived experiences is part of the phenomenological paradigm (Creswell, 2014). Deep exploration of lived experiences with the gatekeeping experiential activities was congruent with the goal of understanding the journey of doctoral students to capture the essential meanings of gatekeeping. Husserl (2001) postulated that it was possible for researchers to bracket their own experiences to capture the essence of the experiences of others, which was one of the objectives in this analysis. The ontological assumption, informed by the constructivist paradigm, was that socially constructed multiple realities of gatekeeping exist (Mertens & Wilson, 2012). The study was primarily conducted as scholarly inquiry into the developing professional identity of doctoral students relevant to the gatekeeping role. Aligned with the research question, the data analysis was accomplished through a phenomenological tradition, with a primary goal of revealing rich and concrete descriptions of the learning process and the translation of formal and experiential instruction into professional identity. Subsequent to the analysis, the findings were also used to inform program development and pedagogy for counselor educators. This secondary use of the findings to inform program improvement is aligned with the values branch of program evaluation in which participant responses to program experiences are often viewed through a qualitative, constructivist perspective (Abma & Widdershoven, 2008). The use of the findings to inform counselor education pedagogy did not influence the interview protocol, data collection, or analysis process, which were conducted utilizing the phenomenological approach. Participants For phenomenological studies, Creswell (2013) recommends between 3 and 15 participants. At the point of data collection, there were 12 students enrolled in the CACREP-accredited counselor education and supervision doctoral program where the DEG modules were delivered. The doctoral