Date of Award

12-2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Gary H. Bischof

Second Advisor

Dr. Alan Hovestadt

Third Advisor

Dr. Karen Blaisure

Abstract

The Internet offers unprecedented opportunity for individuals to have anonymous, inexpensive, and unrestricted access to an essentially unlimited range of sexually explicit materials. Counseling clients are increasingly presenting with problematic issues regarding Internet pornography use. The purposes of this mixed-method study were (a) to examine the current status of counselors’ attitudes and self-efficacy about treating clients with Internet pornography addiction, and (b) to ascertain the opinions of counselor educators who are experts in the field of Internet pornography addiction on the current status of counselor training and best practices for preparing counselors.

The quantitative data was obtained from a 90-item online survey which was completed by 286 professional members of the American Counseling Association. Counselors had the most comfort with sexual expression and tolerance toward sexual expressions different than their own. Counselors indicated less comfort around talking about pornography, and finding something positive in pornography use. Respondents had a less negative attitude regarding pornography when it is used as a relationship aid, when women also view it, and when it was used for fantasy. Respondents had the most negative attitudes about topics that dealt specifically with pornography and topics addressed in pornography; both are topics clients will be likely to discuss. Male counselors were more likely to feel competent in their ability to counsel individuals with an addiction. Counselors whose identified religiosity was very important to their counseling work have a significantly lower attitude toward pornography. Men were more comfortable discussing client sexual concerns including Internet pornography use than female counselors.

The qualitative findings resulted from phone interviews with seven counselor educators who are also experts in the field of Internet pornography addiction. The seven global themes that emerged are: (1) Need for Process Addictions Training, (2) Process Addiction Training Critical, (3) CACREP Acknowledgement of Process Addictions/Internet Porn Addictions, (4) Addiction Course Content Delivery, (5) Counselor Education Programs' Inclusion of Process Addiction Training, (6) Qualifications for Teaching Addictions Courses, and (7) Addiction Class Course Design. The qualitative findings are compared to the survey results. Implications for counselor training are offered and recommendations are made for the counselor education profession.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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