With the projected older adult population increase and the prevalence of older adults whose mental health needs are not being met, it is more important than ever that counselors possess the basic knowledge and skills to work with older adults. In order to meet the increasing demand for counselors with the knowledge and skills to work with older adults, an instrument needs to be developed to assess the current competence level of counselors and counselor educators in the field as well as counselor trainees. The purpose of the present study was to develop a reliable and valid measure of counselor competence when working with older adults. Items for the Gerontological Counseling Competencies Scale (GCCS; O'Connor Thomas, 2012) were generated using the rational/theoretical approach to scale construction. Feedback from an expert panel and focus group were used to formulate the initial 50-item GCCS and provide support for its validity (content/face validity). The initial scale was disseminated online via listservs and 268 counselors, counselor educators, and counselor trainees across the United States agreed to participate in the study. The data obtained from these participants was analyzed through a series of Principal Component Analyses and resulted in a final 21-item Gerontological Counseling Competencies Scale (GCCS) comprised of three subscales: Knowledge & Skills, Attitudes, and Bio-Cognitive Knowledge. Reliability analysis indicated that the GCCS and its subscales had good to excellent internal consistency reliability. Furthermore, results revealed that prior educational experience, prior work experience, and prior training significantly predicted counselor perceived competence when working with older adults. In addition, correlations of the GCCS full scale and subscales with social desirability, as measured by the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding (BIDR), indicated that the GCCS was not influenced by socially desirable responding. Overall, the findings of the present study demonstrate that it is important that counselor education programs provide not only coursework in gerontology but also clinical experience with older adults and additional training opportunities such as seminars and/or workshops. The present study also discussed recommendations for future research in the area of counselor competence when working with older adults.
|Commitee:||Perosa, Linda, Queener, John, Reynolds, Cynthia, Sterns, Harvey|
|School:||The University of Akron|
|Department:||Counselor Education and Supervision|
|School Location:||United States -- Ohio|
|Source:||DAI-A 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Gerontology, Aging, School counseling|
|Keywords:||Counseling older adults, Gerontological counselor competencies, Measure of gerontological counseling competencies, Multicultural counseling competencies|
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