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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Exploring Millennial Generation Counselor Trainees' Perceptions of Aging and their Understanding of Counseling Older Adults: A Qualitative Study of Student Perspectives
by Santiago, Susan Veronica Ann, Ph.D., University of Rochester, 2013, 219; 3561029
Abstract (Summary)

By 2030, older adults will comprise more than 20% of the population and include 80 million adults age 65 and older (U.S. Census, 2010). A corresponding increase is predicted in the number of older adults in need of mental health counseling (American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2010). According to the Institute of Medicine, in 2012, nearly one in five older adults had one or more mental health and/or substance abuse conditions. There is an emerging demand for counselors who specialize in gerontological counseling to meet the mental health and substance abuse needs of older adults. Despite the anticipated demand to increase the workforce with counselors who specialize in gerocounseling, research has shown that students in the human service professions are not interested or prepared to work with older adults (Institute of Medicine, 2012). This lack of interest and preparedness does not bode well for meeting the future needs of this population. If there is a genuine lack of interest in counseling older adults among counseling students, particularly the youngest to enter the profession, then it is important to explore their perspectives to understand them and design training strategies to prepare them for meeting the mental health needs of older adults.

This exploratory study used qualitative description to capture the perspectives of eight millennial counselors-in-training (CITs). Data and findings were organized to construct analysis of the themes that emerged. The framework of critical gerontology was used to examine findings. Participants identified primarily with their own aging family members to describe their age-related perspectives. Findings suggest that CITs struggled with their own privileged status as younger adults as they described their perception of how older adults were devalued by society. Evidence revealed a tension as they realized that they will likely counsel older adults regardless of their area of specialization. Students wanted age-related foundational knowledge to help their own aging family members, to work with clients being raised by grandparents, and to assist families in accommodating their aging family members but experienced systemic and structural obstacles that might prevent them from acquiring this knowledge. This research has critical implications for the field of counselor education.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Douthit, Kathryn Z.
Commitee: Swanson, Dena P., Watson, Nancy M.
School: University of Rochester
Department: Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 74/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mental health, Gerontology, Multicultural Education
Keywords: Counselor trainees, Counselors-in-training, Critical gerontology, Millennial generation, Older adults, Perceptions of aging
Publication Number: 3561029
ISBN: 978-1-303-07803-3
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