Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Culturally Relevant Advising: Applying Relational-Cultural Theory in Counselor Education

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Culturally Relevant Advising: Applying Relational-Cultural Theory in Counselor Education

Article excerpt

A greater number of students are enrolling in counselor education doctoral programs; however, the current number of graduates may not reflect higher enrollment trends (Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs [CACREP], 2013). In an extensive literature review, Creighton, Creighton, and Parks (2010) identified the attrition rates of doctoral students as a major concern in graduate education. Across degree programs, the attrition rate has been estimated as high as 50% (Smallwood, 2004). Additional research suggests that these percentages may be higher for women, students of color, and other underrepresented groups (Lage-Otero, 2005). The importance of diversity within the counseling profession is reflected in counselor education program standards (CACREP, 2009) and in the actions of international counseling organizations. For example, in an effort to attract doctoral students from diverse backgrounds, the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) established the Minority Fellowship scholarship program in 2012 (NBCC, 2014). Despite the emerging focus on attracting and maintaining students from diverse backgrounds, few in counselor education have examined effective approaches for addressing the needs of counselor education doctoral students from underrepresented populations once they are enrolled.

Emerging across several qualitative and descriptive investigations is the vital role a close, supportive relationship with a faculty member plays in the experience of students from underrepresented backgrounds within counselor education doctoral programs (Haizlip, 2012; Henfield, Owens, & Witherspoon, 2011; J. K. Miller & Stone, 2011; Protivnak & Foss, 2009; Robinson, Lewis, Henderson, & Flowers, 2009). For example, in a large qualitative study with 141 ethnically diverse counselor education doctoral students, Protivnak and Foss (2009) reported that students experience support and guidance when relationships between faculty members and students are valued and prioritized. Conversely, students lacking supportive relationships with faculty members experience feelings of isolation and marginalization (Protivnak & Foss, 2009). J. K. Miller and Stone (2011) interviewed 10 doctoral students of color in family therapy programs and found that faculty relationships may affect the decision to remain in the program or even pursue a career in counselor education. In most doctoral programs, relationships between students and faculty are developed through the advising role (Creighton et al., 2010; Schlosser, Lyons, Talleyrand, Kim, & Johnson, 2011). Advisors within counselor education are an integral part of student matriculation from admission to graduation (Choate & Granello, 2006; Warnke, Bethany, & Hedstrom, 1999), with CACREP (2009) requiring an assigned faculty advisor throughout a student's program of study.

Currently, there is a high likelihood that a student from an underrepresented background receives advising from a faculty member from a majority background (J. K. Miller & Stone, 2011). Students from underrepresented populations may have unique advising needs separate from those of dominant-culture peers (Butler, Evans, Brooks, Williams, & Bailey, 2013; Henfield et al., 2011; Warnke et al., 1999), such as difficulty developing relationships with faculty and cohort members (Henfield et al., 2011; Robinson et al., 2009), experiencing a lack of consideration of diverse perspectives within the program (Henfield et al., 2011; Protivnak & Foss, 2009), faculty evaluating from a deficit rather than strengths perspective (Robinson et al., 2009), and pressure to conform to the departmental culture and values (Casto, Caldwell, & Salazar, 2005; Protivnak & Foss, 2009). The lack of representation in higher education among women and people of color in positions of power (Bradley & Holcomb-McCoy, 2004) may further contribute to feelings of isolation among underrepresented students. …

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