Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

An Examination of Factors Contributing to Public Rehabilitation Counselors' Involvement in Job Placement and Development Activities

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

An Examination of Factors Contributing to Public Rehabilitation Counselors' Involvement in Job Placement and Development Activities

Article excerpt

Job placement and development has been identified as one of the essential roles and functions of the rehabilitation counselor (Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification, 2003; Emener & Rubin, 1980; Leahy, Chan, & Saunders, 2003; Roessler & Rubin, 1992). Despite the prominence of job placement and development in the professional activities of the rehabilitation counselor, very few consumers receive job placement services from their rehabilitation counselor in the public sector (General Accounting Office Report to Congress, 1993; Hagner, Fesko, Cadigan, Kiernan, & Butterworth, 1994). In the public sector, the expectation for the rehabilitation counselor to be involved in the job placement and development process varies from agency to agency. In some cases counselors are expected to provide such services directly, while more often those responsibilities are performed by in house specialists, or contracted to external service providers.

There have been few studies conducted recently to examine the level of involvement of the public rehabilitation counselor in the job placement and development process (Fraser, Vandergoot, Thomas, & Wagner, 2004). A longitudinal research project examining public vocational rehabilitation services and outcomes, conducted by the Research Triangle Institute (2002), indicated that only 32.5% of consumers received placement services, and of those 72.5% had their placement services contracted out to external providers, thus eliminating the public rehabilitation counselor from the placement process. Earlier studies indicate that public rehabilitation counselors devote 6-12% of their time engaged in job placement and development activities (Fraser & Clowers, 1978; Zadny & James, 1977). The apparent lack of rehabilitation counselor involvement may be of concern as there is limited evidence to indicate that increased involvement by the rehabilitation counselor is related to increased client satisfaction, increased appropriateness of the placement, and a decrease in the time to placement (Hansen, 1983). There is a strong emphasis in the rehabilitation counseling literature (Fraser, Vandergoot, Thomas, & Wagner, 2004; Szymanski & Parker, 2003), educational programming (Council on Rehabilitation Education, 2004), and continuing education programs on the rehabilitation counselor's involvement in job placement and development activities. Considering the lack of involvement in this high priority area of practice by rehabilitation counselors in the public sector, it is apparent that role confusion exists regarding their involvement in the job placement and development process (Ford & Swett, 1999).

To address the apparent confusion regarding this specific role and function for rehabilitation counselors in the public sector, the current study examined the impact of attitudinal and self-efficacy factors on the involvement of public rehabilitation counselors in job placement and development activities. The factors hypothesized as influencing the involvement of public rehabilitation counselors in the placement process were personal attitudes towards placement activities, the counselor's perception their organization's attitudes towards their involvement in the placement process, and the counselor's perceived self-efficacy regarding placement activities. The Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 2002) provides a theoretical context for understanding how these variables interact to impact counselor behavior.

The Theory of Planned Behavior

The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) has developed over the years to become an influential model for explaining human behavior (Ajzen, 2002). Based on the original theoretical work of Ajzen and Fishbein (1980), Ajzen (2002) describes the basic concepts of the TPB as follows:

   Human behavior is guided by three kinds of
   considerations: beliefs about the likely consequences
   or other attributes of the behavior (behavioral beliefs),
   beliefs about the normative expectations of other
   people (normative beliefs), and beliefs about the
   presence of factors that may further or hinder
   of the behavior (control beliefs). … 
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