Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Life and Work Values of Counselor Trainees: A National Survey

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Life and Work Values of Counselor Trainees: A National Survey

Article excerpt

This national web-based study used the Schwartz Value Survey (Schwartz, 1994) and Super's Work Values Inventory-Revised (Zytowski, n.d.) to identify general life and work value orientations of 674 female and male entry-level counselor trainees residing in 27 states. In general, trainees emphasized benevolence, self-direction, and achievement and the work values lifestyle, supervision, and achievement. Significant multivariate and univariate differences for age, gender, and program of study were found on both value domains. The sample of practicing counselors scored significantly higher on several values than did trainees. Implications for how students construe values to develop toward their professional role of counselor are considered.

Counselor educators generally agree that counselor trainees become aware of their values and recognize the effect of their value systems on the therapeutic relationship. Although scholars have explicated the typical motivations and needs of helping professionals (e.g., Corey & Corey, 2003; Henriksen & Trusty, 2005), value orientations of entrylevel counselor trainees have rarely been discussed for how they can help trainees prepare for the role of counselor. Consequently, empirical studies of the value orientations of counselor trainees remain sparse in the counselor education literature. Awareness of one's value orientations becomes salient as students question their self-concepts and the personal characteristics needed for the work of counseling (Ronnestad & Skovholt, 2003). A profile of counselor trainees' value preferences, therefore, may expand discourse on the function of values as a viable component of counselor preparation.

We begin with a description of values in general followed by life and work values in particular. A review of the literature regarding the role of values during counselor preparation is followed by an empirical investigation of the general life and work value orientations of counselor trainees. We conclude with a discussion of the importance of value orientations in the development of master's-level counselor trainees.

Conception of Values

Values have long been viewed as an important determinant in guiding human behavior. The literature gives an abundant number of definitions of values (e.g., Allport, 1931; Rokeach, 1973; Super, 1980). A more recent and elaborate definition given by Schwartz (1992) defines values as "desirable states, objects, goals, or behaviors, transcending specific situations and applied as normative standards to judge and to choose among alternative modes of behavior" (p. 2). As a motivational construct, values play a major role in the establishment of personal goals and work-related motivations and have been empirically linked to organizational behavior, academic performance, career decision making, marital satisfaction, and various demographic variables. Historically, values have been conceptualized as either shared or general life values and have been expressed at the collective and domain -specific levels.

General Life Values

Values conceptualized across the spectrum of human experience represent general or global values. General values have no direct link to specific lite roles. Holders of values can be individuals, or people belonging to occupational groups, a subculture, a community, or a country. The Life Values Inventory (Crace & Brown, 2002) is an example of a measure of general values in individuals. Specific theories and measures in counseling have been developed to study cultural values of groups (e.g., Ibrahim & Kahn, 1987). Because values have been identified as central determinants of culturally unique behavior (Sue & Sue, 2002), they are critical to the understanding of cultural differences.

Given individual differences in value orientations, a recent theory that portrays values as universal is Schwartz's (1994) theory of basic values. His values theory defines 10 broad life values according to the motivation that underlies each of them. …

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