Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

The Relationship of Rehabilitation Counselor Education to Rehabilitation Client Outcome: A Replication and Extension

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

The Relationship of Rehabilitation Counselor Education to Rehabilitation Client Outcome: A Replication and Extension

Article excerpt

The research reported in this article was supported by grant number H133C90067 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research to Research Associates of Syracuse. The authors wish to thank James Jeffers, John Kelly, Bob Burns, and John Irons of the Maryland Division of Vocational Rehabilitation; and Randall Parker, William Emener, and Kath Meadows for their assistance and support of this research. The Relationship of Rehabilitation Counselor Education to Rehabilitation Client Outcome: A Replication and Extension

The relationship between rehabilitation counselor education and rehabilitation client outcome in state vocational rehabilitation agencies has been an issue of ongoing interest (Ayer, Wright, & Butler, 1968; Rehabilitation Brief, 1989). The Rehabilitation Act has supported training of rehabilitation counselors at the master's degree level since 1954 (Rubin & Roessler, 1987; Wright, 1980), and The Act currently requires that vocational rehabilitation (VR) services be delivered by qualified personnel (Rehabilitation Act Amendments, 1986). However, over the past two decades while the complexity of rehabilitation counseling has increased, some VR agencies have de-emphasized counselor education (Hershenson, 1988; Pankowski & Pankoswki, 1974). During the same period the literature has reflected discussions about whether rehabilitation counseling, as practiced in state VR agencies, is a profession or a job title (Patterson, 1989) and debates about the meaning of the term qualified in reference to rehabilitation personnel (Graves, Coffee, Habeck, & Stude, 1987; Walker & Myers, 1988; Wright, 1982). The current study addresses some of these issues through an examination of the relationship of rehabilitation counselor education to client outcome in the Maryland Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR).

Despite its importance to both rehabilitation counseling theory and state-federal rehabilitation policy, the utility of research on rehabilitation counseling outcomes has been obscured by inherent complexity and potential for flaws in methodology and interpretation (Szymanski, Parker, & Butler, 1990). Although some studies demonstrated relationships between counselor characteristics or behaviors and client perceptions or outcomes (e.g., Ayer, Wright, & Butler, 1968; Jenkins, West, & Anderson, 1975; Rubin, Bolton, Krauft, Bozarth, & Richardson, 1974; Szymanski, in press; Szymanski & Parker, 1989a), other studies were unable to detect such relationships (e.g., Abrams & Tucker, 1989; Danek, 1979; Emener, 1980). We will, therefore, precede the description of the current study with a brief discussion of past research.

Past Research

The methodology of the current study is built on the foundation of past studies, both in rehabilitation counseling and in other related disciplines. Research methodology remains a challenge for researchers in any area of behavioral and social science (Rosnow & Rosenthal, 1989), and we continue to build on and refine the methodology of our predecessors (W. Emener, personal communication, August, 1988). Thus, although we point to the limitations of previous research, it is important to remember that we continue to build on its foundation.

Szymanski, Parker, and Butler (1990) explained the research on the relationship of rehabilitation counselor education to rehabilitation client outcome has often been complicated by the following methodological limitations: (a) inadequate outcome measures and lack of consideration of different outcome patterns for clients with severe disabilities, (b) low statistical power, and (c) failure to account for the interactive relationship of counselor education and work experience in relation to client outcome. These limitations are discussed and illustrated by past research.

Inadequate Outcome Measures and Different Outcome Patters for Clients with Severe Disabilities

Construct validity of outcome measures (i. …

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