Knowledge, Application, and Educational Experiences in Social Justice among Licensed Professional Counselors

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Mary L. Anderson

Second Advisor

Dr. Stephen Craig

Third Advisor

Dr. Marianne Di Pierro


Social justice, advocacy, counselor education


Social justice has been identified as an emerging issue for the field of counseling. Thus, it is important for counselors to understand what social justice entails. While the American Counseling Association (ACA) has helped to identify what social justice should entail, it is important to understand how counselors respond and interact with this definition. Previous research indicates that ACA members identified that social justice is important, but there was no specific information listed on how they engage in social justice; rather, participants merely reported that they do engage. The results of these studies also suggest that although social justice exists as a theoretical concept, this may not always be understood as a distinct aspect of the counseling role.

This qualitative study explored the experience of 12 Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) related to their awareness and understanding of social justice as it pertains to their professional roles and responsibilities and identified their level of involvement in social justice. Five themes emerged from participants regarding their awareness of, understanding of, and involvement in social justice. The themes identified in this study are: 1) understanding social justice, 2) professional responsibility to social justice, 3) personal experiences related to social justice growth, 4) social justice in action, and 5) selective social justice. The findings of this study provide a meaningful contribution to the field of counseling and counselor education by providing an increased understanding of LPCs and how they view their professional esponsibilities related to social justice, as well as their actual involvement in social justice. Implications for counseling and counselor education and future research are also discussed.

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