Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Critical Readings for Doctoral Training in Rehabilitation Counseling: A Consensus-Building Approach

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Critical Readings for Doctoral Training in Rehabilitation Counseling: A Consensus-Building Approach

Article excerpt

In this paper we present the results of research among US graduate programs in Rehabilitation Counseling aimed at identifying and developing consensus among rehabilitation counselor educators about key readings in doctoral rehabilitation counselor education. In this two-part, National Council on Rehabilitation Education (NCRE)-approved research, we first conducted a survey of the NCRE membership to identify: (a) the topics of existing professional seminars and doctoral level courses in rehabilitation counseling, and (b) suggestions for an initial list of key readings in these topic areas from educators in rehabilitation counseling or related programs. We then completed a Delphi analysis with a diverse panel of rehabilitation counseling educators in order to establish consensus on a list of key readings by topic area. Panel ratings resulted in a list of 84 readings in 6 topic areas: education and pedagogy, clinical supervision, psychosocial issues, research and assessment, ethics and professional issues, and counseling theories and mental health. This list of key readings, generated through a consensus building process, is provided as a resource for educators and graduate students in rehabilitation counseling.

Doctoral education in rehabilitation counseling serves a vital role in the preservation, development, and proliferation of the profession through the development of experts and leaders in rehabilitation counseling education, research, and administration. In the United States, colleges and universities have been offering doctoral-level education in rehabilitation counseling, rehabilitation counselor education, or similarly focused doctoral degrees for several decades. Absent accreditation by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE; Leahy & Tansey, 2008) or other unifying accrediting body, rehabilitation counseling doctoral programs have been characterized by considerable variability in degree titles, academic requirements, and curricula (Bolton & Cook, 1999; Bolton & Cook, 2000; Maki, Berven, & Peterson, 2003; Leahy & Tansey, 2008; Tansey, Zanskas, & Phillips, 2012). Despite this variability, review of the various program curricula establishes that rehabilitation counseling doctoral programs have developed a common focus on several core content areas of rehabilitation counseling education. This shared focus on common core content reflects the programs' collective purpose of preparing rehabilitation counselors, researchers, and educators for careers in a dynamic, but well-defined profession.

Knowing, and being able to competently work with the literature, is a critical skill for doctoral students and scholars (Golde, 2007). As explained by Golde, "all researchers and scholars work within particular traditions and build on, modify, or overturn that which has gone before" (p. 344). Doctoral-level knowledge and expertise in the core content areas of a profession is frequently developed through advanced professional, or seminar courses, in which students review, analyze, discuss, and debate critical questions of professional practice, theory, policy, and education. One of the most important considerations for faculty, therefore, is the selection of the readings for such courses. These readings may variously serve as introductions to the problems, questions, and responses of the profession's past; as descriptions of collective current understanding, points of consensus, and issues of contention; and as maps to the profession's future. Readings and assignments set the stage for the process of absorbing content, determining what is known and gaps in knowledge, understanding multiple theoretical perspectives, and extrapolating the "state of the science" at this point in time (Golde, 2007). Students take perspectives gained in professional seminars and apply them to comprehensive examination efforts, dissertation studies, and future research, teaching and mentoring efforts.

Unlike master's education in rehabilitation counseling, which has a tradition of revisiting curriculum requirements to ensure that the content areas are reflective of the needs of the field, the scope of practice, and the functions fulfilled by rehabilitation counselors (Shaw & Keuhn, 2008); doctoral education has not benefited from the same level of discourse or review inherent in accredited programs. …

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