An exploratory study of career counselor professional identity
Littlefield, Lisa Janine
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Lack of a unified and distinguishable professional identity across specialty areas has created a threat to the field of counseling in maintaining its position as a unique mental health resource in the spectrum of psychology-based disciplines. The purpose of this research study was to contribute to the understanding of counselor professional identity through investigation of the specialty population of career counselors. To this end, this study quantitatively explored professional identify beliefs held by career counselors within five possible dimensions tested in prior research using the Professional Identity Scale in Counseling (PISC). The study sample consisted of 285 working career counselors with, at minimum, master’s degrees in counseling or closely related fields and who were also members in the National Career Development Association. Subscales of the PISC addressed Knowledge of the Profession, Philosophy of the Profession, Roles and Expertise, Attitudes, and Engagement Behaviors. Data, from a nine-question demographic survey along with a 55 Likert scale item question set, was collected through an online platform. Previous testing of the PISC indicated that afore mentioned professional identity characteristics resonated with both mental health and school counseling groups. Findings of this study supported the reliability of the PISC to measure the strength with which career counselors aligned with these professional identity constructs as well. Multiple comparisons of groups, partitioned by demographic features including sex, achieved level of education, accreditation of educational training programs, number of professional affiliations, professional roles, years of work experience, and setting of employment were made using t-test and analysis of variance statistical procedures. These analyses showed a variety of statistical significant differences at the p < .05 level between multiple groups within the career counselor study sample.
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