Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Patrick H. Munley

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Z. Anderson

Third Advisor

Dr. Donna M. Weinreich


With an emphasis on developmental, strengths-based approaches, as well as a commitment to training multiculturally competent practitioners, the profession of counseling psychology and counseling psychologists are potentially equipped to help address the mental health needs of older adults. Amid projections that Baby Boomers will utilize mental health services at a higher rate than previous cohorts (Rosowsky, 2005), understanding the factors involved in preparing counseling psychologists to provide services to older adults is critical. Older adults, however, have not traditionally been a population served by psychologists (Laganà & Shanks, 2002). Further, possible factors involved in the training and experience of counseling psychologists that may lead to better services for older adults have not been extensively studied. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationships between training and experience in aging issues, fear of death, and multicultural competence on counseling psychologists' global attitudes toward older adults and specific clinical judgments concerning a case vignette of an older client.

A national sample of 364 practicing counseling psychologists, identified by the American Psychological Association, participated in the study. An oversampling strategy was employed to attempt to include adequate representation of ethnic/racial minority counseling psychologists. Participants completed a demographic measure, Polizzi's Refined Version of the Aging Semantic Differential (Polizzi, 2003), the original Aging Semantic Differential (Rosencranz & McNevin, 1969), a survey of professional bias based on a clinical vignette of a 70-year-old woman (James & Haley, 1995), the Collett-Lester Fear of Death Scale 3.0 (Lester & Abdel-Khalek, 2003), the Multicultural Counseling Knowledge and Awareness Scale (MCKAS; Ponterotto, Gretchen, Utsey, Rieger & Austin, 2002), and a training and experience questionnaire. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were used to investigate the extent to which training, experience, fear of death, and multicultural competence predicted more favorable attitudes toward older adults and less professional bias toward an older client. Results revealed that older age and higher total scores on the MCKAS predicted less professional bias in clinical judgments and that gender was a significant predictor of global attitudes toward older adults. Findings and implications are discussed and recommendations for future research are considered.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access