Thursday, January 12, 2012

Counselor Cognitions: General and Domain-Specific Complexity

Researchers: Laura E. Welfare, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and L. DiAnne Borders, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Source (Journal name, date of publication):

Counselor Education & Supervision—March 2010—Volume 49

What was the purpose of this research?

The authors explored general and domain-specific cognitive complexity of counselors as it relates to their counseling efficacy.

If applicable, who were the participants, and what were they asked to do?

Counselors-in-training and post master’s-degree counselors from CACREP-accredited programs in Illinois, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia completed a demographic questionnaire, the Counselor Cognitions Questionnaire (CCQ), and the Washington University Sentence Completion Test, a measure of Loevinger’s theory of ego development.

Major findings or points:

Domain-specific measures of cognitive complexity were found to be more informative than general measures of complexity. Counseling experience, supervisory experience, counselor education experience, and highest counseling degree completed were identified as significant predictors of counselor cognitive complexity.

Major caveats:

The majority of participants were master’s-level students or doctoral students rather than post-master’s-degree counselors. Response rates cannot be calculated due to convenience sampling, and only a small number of participants had supervisory or teaching experience, which limited regression confidence.

What does this research mean for counseling practice, settings, and/or training?

It seems as though counseling experience can contribute to increased levels of cognitive complexity, which is most effectively investigated through domain-specific measures. Supervisors could utilize the CCQ in order to identify areas of cognitive need and teachers could focus on mastery of domain-specific concepts. Teachers and supervisors with domain-specific cognitive complexity could have a substantive impact on the cognitive growth of their students and supervisees.

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