Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Suzanne M. Hedstrom

Second Advisor

Dr. Gary H. Bischof

Third Advisor

Dr. Carl A. Wolosyk


The counseling profession requires multicultural competence in meeting the needs of diverse groups. The responsibility for training counseling students to work effectively with the elderly falls upon counselor educators. Textbooks convey cultural values and contribute to what is learned by students. Specifically,textbooks may contribute to how counseling students think about older adults and aging issues. This study was designed to determine how older adults and aging issues are represented in counselor education texts.

The textbooks used most frequently by 11 randomly selected master's degree programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (2001) were identified in these areas: counseling techniques, career development, counseling theory, issues and ethics, tests and measurement research methods, multicultural counseling, and group counseling. Textbooks were examined for representations of the aged and aging issues, and whether the representations were ageist, non-ageist (refuting ageism), or unbiased (neither supporting nor negating ageism). The texts were searched for opportunities that were missed to represent older adults, especially when other diverse groups and age groups were discussed. Examples of more realisticrepresentations of the aged and aging issues were provided, especially when the texts represented the elderly inappropriately. Many discussions, case studies, illustrations, and activities which included older adults and aging issues were created for each counseling text.

The methodologies chosen for this study were grounded in social learning theory and reader-response theory. A textual analysis was utilized in this study. Themost important finding in this study was the invisibility of older adults in counselor education textbooks. An examination of each of the eight core counseling texts used to train counselors revealed a consistent lack of representation of the elderly. On the occasions when older adults were represented in textual passages, the representations were mostly unbiased. There were some instances that supported ageism. On rare occasions, the representations of older adults negated ageism. Slight patterns of representations of the aged were noted in the textbooks, but no themes.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access