Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Phillip Johnson

Second Advisor

Dr. Jennipher Wiebold

Third Advisor

Dr. Don Cooney


Social justice and advocacy have become increasingly important topics in counselor training. The 2001 Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) training standards require counselor education programs to provide studies in social justice and advocacy processes. Moreover, 2009 CACREP standards stipulate that accredited programs must provide advocacy training specific to each specialty area. The American Counseling Association (ACA) adopted advocacy competencies, in part, to guide this training (Goodman, 2009; Lewis, Arnold, House, & Toporek, 2003). Despite training standards and frameworks such as the ACA Advocacy Competencies to help prepare students for advocacy, few studies have explored the extent to which counselor education programs provide curricular experiences in this area (Nilsson & Schmidt, 2005). Moreover, there is minimal research that investigates the extent to which training programs address the skills and behaviors identified as important to competent advocacy counseling (Ratts, DeKruyf, & Chen- Hayes, 2007).

The purpose of this study was to investigate perceptions of social justice advocacy training in counseling programs. Specifically, counselor educators and master's level counseling interns were asked to report the extent to which the skills and behaviors outlined in the advocacy competencies are a) important to counselor preparation, b) included in counselor training, and c) how ready counseling students are to engage in the competencies when beginning their internship.

A total of 212 counselor educators and interns from CACREP programs participated in an online administration of the study. Findings showed that participants perceived the competencies are important to counselor education and students are generally not ready to engage in advocacy skills and behaviors upon beginning their internship. Counselor educators' reported that advocacy is included during instruction more so than the interns, but neither reported that it is included often. Positive ratings of importance, training, and readiness decreased as the competencies moved from individual counseling (microlevel) to advocating in a public arena (macrolevel). Finally, it was found that being a racial/ethnic minority and being born between 1970 and 1979 or after 1979 increased the likelihood that a participant would perceive that it is important to include advocacy training in counselor education.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access