Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Content Analysis of 32 Years of American Counseling Association Convention Programs

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Content Analysis of 32 Years of American Counseling Association Convention Programs

Article excerpt

Over the years, changes in the profession of counseling are reflective of a large number of factors that include broad societal as well as more focused political, familial, economic, and cultural dimensions. These changes have influenced the counseling profession, which is composed of members embedded in the larger society. Evidence of changes includes credentialing such as licensure and certification and changes in the accreditation of counselor training programs. McGowan (2002) believed that the profession is "still evolving" and exists within a "diverse and complex society" (p. 260). Hollis and Wantz (1980) and Hollis (2000) have regularly provided snapshots of counselor training programs and the changes those programs have experienced, including new trends and emphases.

A typical and usual method for documenting and measuring the changes in a profession occurs through a periodic review of the articles published in journals within a field (e.g., Blancher, Buboltz, & Soper, 2010; Minton, Fernando, & Ray, 2008; Pelsma & Cesari, 1989; Williams & Buboltz, 1999). Content analyses typically review the number and kinds of articles published in a field or profession for a narrow time period. A compilation of authors who have published during that time frame and their institutional affiliations often occurs (Weinrach, Lustig, Chan, & Thomas, 1998). In their review, Weinrach et al. (1998) were primarily interested in whether authorg were counselors or psychologists. Perhaps a more revealing portrait of the counseling profession's foci was the study by Harmon and Harker (1989) that replicated and extended an earlier study by Goodyear (1984). They listed all the special topics that were the focus of the Journal of Counseling and Development during the 1970-1987 years. Because of the limited number of articles published by each journal in any given issue or even during a time period such as 10 years, the immediacy and variety of professional issues addressed may be limited. The time lag from writing the manuscript, to acceptance, to publication often argues against the currency of the topic the article addresses. Because most counseling journals represent specific parts of the profession, they focus on a limited number of areas, and only data pertinent to a part of a profession are available for most reviews. For example, a review of professional issues occurs each year for the career development field sponsored by The Career Development Quarterly. This thorough review of career-related publications addresses articles in that specific field, but only for the previous year (e.g., Chope, 2008; Guindon & Richmond, 2005). No one has yet done a comprehensive review (meta-analysis) of all individual years combined. Even so, only a small slice of the counseling field would be examined if that occurred.

Another approach in examining what is occurring in a profession is to investigate what occurs at conventions of professional associations. National associations exist, in part, to provide continuing education opportunities to members. In fact, Kaplan (2002) believed that this was a major reason for the formation of the American Counseling Association as four existing organizations came together and created the American Personnel and Guidance Association (APGA) in 1952.

The purpose of this research was a content analysis of all the ACA annual convention programs offered over 32 years, from 1977 to 2008. This review of the field and its changes was based on thousands of convention programs that presumably represent the profession's trends, patterns, and foci. Our original intent was to do a content analysis for 30 years of convention programs; however, before we concluded the analysis, 2 more years had passed, so we finished with 32. For such an analysis, 32 years seemed adequate. Any 32-year time span would include a number of societal as well as organizational changes that might be reflected in the data. …

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