1 Assessing Student Dispositions in Counselor Training Programs: Implications for Supervision, Program Policy, and Legal Risk Management Julie L. Williams, MS. Ed., PC-CR, Turning Point Counseling Center, Youngstown, OH Demetrius D. Williams, MS. Ed., PC-CR, D & E Counseling Center, Youngstown, OH Melanie Kautzman-East, MS. Ed., PC-CR University of Akron (doctoral candidate) Alicia L. Stanley, (master s candidate), Youngstown State University William J. Evans, Ph.D., LPC (PA), Slippery Rock University Kenneth L. Miller, Ph.D., PCC-S, Youngstown State University Presented at the Ohio Association for Counselor Education and Supervision Winter Meeting January 31, 2014 Columbus, OH
2 Learning Objectives Understand the role of dispositions as a critical variable for consideration in admissions, retention, and dismissal decisions in counselor education programs Understand the role of dispositions in the context of a Model of Fitness for Professional Duty Understand the process of developing an instrument designed to measure dispositions Know implications of the use of dispositions assessment for supervision, program policy, and legal risk management
3 Evolution of Our Research 2009 Initial discussions about apparent but unaddressed problems related to counseling student and faculty impairment 2010 Development of the Survey of Personal/Professional Impairment (SOPPI, Student and Faculty Versions) - data collected 2011 Presented SOPPI findings at a national conference impairment focus challenged by attorney in the audience 2012 Changed focus from impairment to fitness and ultimately to dispositions Development of the Professional Dispositions Scale (Student and Faculty Versions) 2014 A National Study of Counseling Student and Faculty Dispositions will commence in February
4 Phase 1: A Study of Counselor Impairment
5 TWO FORMS OF IMPAIRMENT Academic Easy to define & identify Strong support for dismissal Non-Academic Difficult to define & identify Varied support for dismissal
6 NON-ACADEMIC IMPAIRMENT Numerous authors have identified various personality factors, interpersonal variables, and behavioral indicators that suggest non-academic impairment Lack of agreement on a universal term Lack of agreement on a universal definition General agreement that a problem exists
7 12 Constructs from Professional Literature that Define Personal/Professional Impairment Inability/ Unwillingness to accept supervisory feedback Unprofessional/ Inappropriate professional behavior Poor personal/ professional boundaries Violations of professional ethical standards Violations of laws/organizational policies Substance abuse/dependency Mental/Emotional Disorders (Axis I) Personality Disorders (Axis II) Inappropriate emotional reactions that interfere with professional functioning Deficient interpersonal skills Personal/ Professional immaturity Any problematic behaviors related to suitability for the profession
8 SUBJECTS Institution A Midsized Public University Institution B Small Liberal Arts College Master s Level Counseling Students Master s Level Counseling Students Faculty Faculty
9 SUBJECTS: STUDENTS Students: 53 students provided usable surveys (40 from Institution A, 13 from Institution B) White n=49; Black n=3; Hispanic n=1 Female=47 (89%); male=6 Average age=30 years (range 22 to 50) Median income $40,000 to $50,000 Single n=27; married n=25 12 (23%) held Master s Degree 46 (87%) reported personal experiences that created a greater awareness of psychological problems 26 (49%) reported involvement as a client in counseling/psychotherapy (mean=13.46 months) About 1/3 of subjects identified School Counseling, 1/3 Clinical Counseling, and 1/3 of Other (e.g., Addictions, College, Community)
10 SUBJECTS: FACULTY 13 faculty provided usable surveys (9 from Institution A, 4 from Institution B) White n=11; Black n=1, No response n=1 Female=9 (69%); male=4 (31%) Average age=41.5 years (range 30 to 64) Median income $80,000 to $90,000 Single n=4; Married n=8; Other n=1
11 INSTRUMENTATION Survey of Personal/Professional Impairment- Student Version (SOPPI-S) 34 Items Survey of Personal/Professional Impairment- Faculty Version (SOPPI-F) 28 Items
12 Student Survey Results: Frequency Top 5 Ranked Indicators of Student Impairment % (n=20) Personal/Professional Immaturity % (n=14)* Inability to accept supervisory feedback 26.4% (n=14)* Deficient Interpersonal Skills 26.4% (n=14)* Any problematic behaviors that question suitability for profession % (n=9) Inappropriate emotional reactions Notes. N = 53. Frequency Observed was Occasionally or Often. *Tied Rank
13 Student Survey Results: Severity Top 5 Ranked Indicators of Student Impairment % (n = 14) Personal/professional immaturity % (n = 13) Any problematic behaviors that question suitability for profession % (n=12) Deficient interpersonal skills % (n=7) Inability/unwillingness to accept supervisory feedback % (n=6)* Inappropriate emotional reactions 11.3% (n=6)* Unprofessional/inappropriate professional behavior Notes. N = 53. Severity was either moderate or severe. * Tied Rank
14 Student Survey Results: Student Perceptions of Faculty Awareness and Response to Impaired Behaviors Top 3 Ranked Indicators of Student Impairment % (n=11) Inability to accept supervisory feedback % (n=7) Personal/professional immaturity % (n=6)* Unprofessional/inappropriate professional behavior 11.3% (n=6)* Any problematic behaviors that question suitability for profession Note. N = 53. *Tied Rank
15 Student & Faculty Survey Results about Student Impairment Percent of students in your program who meet one of more of the 12 criteria of impairment. Students N (%) Faculty N (%) 0-20% 48 (91%) 12 (82%) 21-40% 4 (8%) 1 (8%) 41-60% 0 (0%) 0 (0%) 61-80% 1 (2%) 0 (0%) % 0 (0%) 0 (0%)
16 Phase 2: From Counselor Impairment to Counselor Dispositions
17 Assessing Student Dispositions: Literature Review Student trainees in counselor education programs are expected to demonstrate personal and professional competency beyond theory and basic skill acquisition (Kerl, Garcia, McCullough, & Maxwell, 2002). The process of gatekeeping is designed to ensure that those who matriculate throughout the program and graduate are competent and ethical in their interactions as a professional counselor (Miller, J. J., & Koerin, 2001). It has long been an ongoing and evolving process for professionals to regulate their standards and ethics (Enochs, 2004). Gatekeeping is a process that begins at admission (Miller & Koerin, 2001) and requires attention to all aspects of student performance, including those not linked to grades (Crawford & Gilroy, 2012). Kerl et al. (2002) called for the inclusion of clear behavioral definitions of personal and professional attitudes and clinical behaviors throughout counselor education programs to insure that potential clients are protected from possible harm and that impaired student trainees are identified and addressed.
18 Assessing Student Dispositions: Literature Review While monitoring the competency of student counselor trainees has always been important, little has been published regarding effective policies and procedures for student review and retention, in light of the subjective nature of evaluating personality characteristics and non-academic performance (Lumadue & Duffey, 1999). Elman and Forest (2007) noted that the term impairment had been the most common term used to describe performance and behavioral problems among trainees, although Shepherd, Britton, and Kress (2008) noted that impaired and incompetent are used throughout the literature to refer to students demonstrating substandard performance. J. J. Miller and Koerin (2001) emphasized the need for consistent terms and definitions of counseling student trainee impairment in order to improve the effectiveness of policy and procedure regarding intervention, remediation, and dismissal of impaired students. Huprich and Rudd (2004) reported that only 58% of doctoral training programs in counseling, clinical, or school psychology indicated a formal program or policy to manage trainee impairment.
19 Assessing Student Dispositions: Literature Review Gaubatz and Vera (2006) pointed out that a missing key perspective, the student trainee s, could offer invaluable insight regarding the design of effective gate-keeping interventions. Foster and McAdams (2009) also highlighted the notion that student perceptions and perspectives are lacking in the literature. Overall, research on impaired counselors, as well as student counselors, is limited (Enochs & Etzbach, 2004). Counselor educators and supervisors should be wholly invested in the identification, intervention, and dismissal (if necessary) of impaired student counselor trainees due to ethical mandates of nonmaleficence and potential legal ramifications (Fame & Stevens-Smith, 1995). Despite having legal and ethical mandates, there is a lack of common agreement and uniform approach in how to best address intervention and remediation among impaired student counselor trainees (Bemak, Epp, & Keys, 1999).
20 Assessing Student Dispositions: Relevant CACREP Standards K. Admission decision recommends are made by the academic unit s selection committee and include consideration of the following: Each applicant s potential success in forming effective and culturally relevant interpersonal relationships in individual and small-group contexts. Each applicant s aptitude for graduate-level study. Each applicant s career goals and their relevance to the program (CACREP Standards 2009). P. The program faculty conducts a systematic developmental assessment of each student s progress throughout the program, including consideration of the student s academic performance, professional development, and personal development. Consistent with established institutional due process policy and the American Counseling Association s (ACA) code of ethics and other relevant codes of ethics and standards of practice, if evaluations indicate that a student is not appropriate for the program, faculty members help facilitate the student s transition out of the program and, if possible, into a more appropriate area of study (CACREP Standards 2009).
21 Assessing Student Dispositions: Relevant CACREP Standards AA. Program faculty members engage in continuous systematic program evaluation indicating how the mission, objectives, and student learning outcomes are measured and met. The plan includes the following: A review by program faculty of programs, curricular offerings, and characteristics of program applicants. 4. Assessment of student learning and performance on professional identity, professional practice, and program area standards (CACREP Standards 2009).
22 Assessing Student Dispositions: Relevant ACA Ethical Standards F.5.a. Evaluation Supervisors document and provide supervisees with ongoing performance appraisal and evaluation feedback and schedule periodic formal evaluative sessions throughout the supervisory relationship. F.5.d. Endorsement Supervisors endorse supervisees for certification, licensure, employment, or completion of an academic or training program only when they believe supervisees are qualified for the endorsement. Regardless of qualifications, supervisors do not endorse supervisees whom they believe to be impaired in any way that would interfere with the performance of the duties associated with the endorsement.
23 Definition For purposes of this study, we used the following definition: Dispositions - A person's inherent qualities of mind and character.
24 Role of Dispositions in a Proposed Model of Fitness for Professional Duty 1. Physical Fitness Physical ability to meet essential communication/interaction competencies for the profession 2. Moral Fitness Periodic Criminal Background Checks and reporting criminal convictions Assessments of Moral Reasoning Ethical Code Compliance 3. Academic Fitness GRE Scores Grade Point Average Writing Sample Comprehensive Exam Scores 4. Psychological Fitness Interview Assessment of Psychopathology - MMPI, MCMI, etc. Assessment of Normal Personality NEO-PI-R, 16PF, etc. 5. Dispositional Fitness Based on 8 Core Areas of CACREP Accreditation Standards Dispositional Measures Professional Dispositions Scale
25 Counselor Dispositions Study: Participants Participants selected for inclusion in this study were drawn from a national cluster sample of U. S. states. The U.S. Federal Regions Map, which consists of ten regions, was examined to determine states in each federal region. Within each region, one state was randomly selected and all CACREPaccredited counselor education programs within that state were selected for inclusion in this study. Faculty and students in these programs were subjects in this study.
26 Counselor Dispositions Study: Participants States randomly selected for inclusion in this study are: 1. Vermont 2. New York 3. Kentucky 4. Maryland 5. Ohio 6. New Mexico 7. Iowa 8. Utah 9. Arizona 10. Oregon
27 Development of the Professional Dispositions Scale: Instrumentation The Professional Dispositions Scale-Counseling Student Version (PDS-CSV) is a 74-item (11 Demographic items; 59 Survey items; 2 Ratio items; and, 2 Confidence items) survey designed to collect the following types of data for counseling student respondents: (a) demographic data; (b) data on professional education and experience; (c) evaluations of the extent to which counseling program students and faculty demonstrate 59 dispositions identified in the Professional Dispositions Scale (PDS); and, (d) a determination of the ratios of Suitable/Unsuitable (as defined in the PDS) students and faculty in selected counselor education programs.
28 Development of the Professional Dispositions Scale: Instrumentation The Professional Dispositions Scale-Counseling Faculty Version (PDS-CFV) is a 76-item (13 Demographic items; 59 Survey items; 2 Ratio items; and, 2 Confidence items) survey designed to collect the following types of data for counseling faculty respondents: (a) demographic data; (b) data on professional education and experience; (c) evaluations of the extent to which counseling program students and faculty demonstrate 59 dispositions identified in the Professional Dispositions Scale (PDS); and, (d) a determination of the ratios of Suitable/Unsuitable (as defined in the PDS) students and faculty in selected counselor education programs.
29 Development of the Professional Dispositions Scale: Procedures C0-principal investigators will a hyperlink to the survey for students and faculty to the department chair of each identified counseling program, with a request to utilize only university to forward the link to students and faculty for participation. A hyperlink for the PDS-CSV will be included in s to all students and a hyperlink for the PDS-CFV will be included in s to all program faculty in all of the counseling programs identified above during the week of February 10, These s will include a brief description of the study and an invitation to participate. Exactly one week after the initial is sent (i.e., February 17, 2014), a reminder will be sent to all respondents reminding them of the opportunity to participate in this study. Exactly one week later (i.e., February 24, 2014), a final reminder will be sent to all respondents requesting their participation.
30 Development of the Professional Dispositions Scale: Data Analysis Researchers will use Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS, V21) to analyze data. Microsoft Excel software will be used to report results graphically. Analyses will include: Descriptive statistics Determinations of disposition score differences for student and faculty respondents Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) Determination of factor and instrument reliability coefficients Determination of student and faculty confidence levels in disposition assessments
31 Implications for Clinical Supervision Dispositional expectations should be: Criteria for successful counseling/clinical performance Clearly communicated to supervisees Dispositional assessments should be: Included on all clinical supervision evaluation forms Developmentally sensitive and used along the continuum of counselor development throughout career Results of dispositional assessments should be: Used with other assessment data to develop individual professional development plans as well as systemic professional trainings
32 Implications for Program Policy Dispositional expectations should be: Clearly indicated in program policies and admission materials Dispositional assessments should be: Administered during the admission process Incorporated into evaluation procedures throughout the counseling program at regular intervals Results of dispositional assessments should be: Used to make admissions, retention, and dismissal decisions Used with other assessment data to develop individual Professional Development Plans
33 Implications for Program Policy Training programs should develop policies and procedures for students to report inappropriate student, faculty, or staff behaviors that may suggest dispositional incompetence, without penalty or prejudice for the reporting student.
34 Implications for Risk Management Dispositional assessment instruments must: Possess psychometric properties (i.e., reliability and validity coefficients) appropriate for making individual decisions Be used in compliance with current ethical standards and legal statutes Have consensual faculty, staff, and institutional support Supervisors and Faculty must: Clearly delineate uses of dispositional assessments in department policies and procedures Demonstrate competence to administer and evaluate dispositional assessments Provide due process rights to students/supervisees
35 Conclusions Problematic, non-academic behaviors demonstrated by counseling students and supervisees are commonplace. Ethical standards require gatekeeping through evaluating performance, including those intangible variables (e.g., dispositions) that may lead to counselor impairment. There are currently no reliable and valid measures of counselor dispositions. The Professional Dispositions Scale (PDS) is designed to remedy this problem.
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