Academic journal article The Professional Counselor

Development of Counseling Students' Self-Efficacy during Preparation and Training

Academic journal article The Professional Counselor

Development of Counseling Students' Self-Efficacy during Preparation and Training

Article excerpt

The practice of counselor training is a complex, intentional process of reflective educational and experiential activities to promote the development of knowledge and skills (Bernard & Goodyear, 2013; Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs [CACREP], 2009; McAuliffe & Eriksen, 2011). As such, the primary goal of counselor preparation programs is to educate and train students to become competent counselors by equipping them with necessary skills, knowledge and experiences (American Counseling Association, 2014; Bernard & Goodyear, 2013; CACREP, 2009). Furthermore, students training to be counselors increase their self-awareness and reflective practice throughout their educational experience (Granello & Young, 2012; Lambie & Sias, 2009; Ronnestad, & Skovholt, 2003). Increased understanding regarding counseling trainee development may aid educators' ability to develop and deliver educational and supervision interventions.

Self-efficacy represents an individual's beliefs or judgments about his or her ability to accomplish a given goal or task (Bandura, 1995). Furthermore, self-efficacy is a recognized measure of development in the counseling field (Larson & Daniels, 1998), has a positive influence on work-related performance (Bandura, 1982; Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998), and consequently works as an outcome and developmental consideration for counselor training. In addition, there are assortments of published research examining counseling trainees' self-efficacy (e.g., Barbee, Scherer & Combs, 2003; Cashwell & Dooley, 2001; Kozina, Grabovari, Stefano, & Drapeau, 2010; Melchert, Hays, Wiljanen, & Kolocek, 1996; Tang et al., 2004); however, limited research examines counseling trainees' development of self-efficacy in a longitudinal fashion based upon their experiences from start (e.g., educational courses) to finish (e.g., initial clinical experiences) in counselor preparation programs. Therefore, the purpose of this longitudinal investigation was to examine counselor trainees' self-efficacy as they progressed through the educational and experiential components of a counselor preparation program.

Counseling Students' Self-Efficacy

Bandura (1995) described perceived self-efficacy as "beliefs in one's capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations" (p. 2). Self-efficacy is considered an appropriate scientific lens for examining individuals' beliefs regarding their ability to accomplish professional goals (Bandura, 1997) and is a common research topic in counseling literature (e.g., Larson & Daniels, 1998). Specifically, Bandura (1997) suggested that individuals' ability to accomplish a task or goal not only necessitates skill and ability, but also the belief in oneself that provides the confidence and motivation to complete a task. Larson and Daniels (1998) stated that counseling self-efficacy is "one's beliefs or judgments about her or his capabilities to effectively counsel a client in the near future" (p. 180). Self-efficacy is appropriate for the selection and training of counselors because of the construct's stability and reliability (Beutler, Machado, & Neufeldt, 1994).

Self-efficacy is important in relation to counselor competence (Barnes, 2004; Larson & Daniels, 1998). Larson (1998) suggested that self-efficacy is a critical influence on one's self-determining mechanisms and as a result is a critical variable in supervision. The importance of self-efficacy in the counseling field is documented by the development of measures of self-efficacy for various research constructs (e.g., Bodenhom & Skaggs, 2005; Mullen, Lambie, & Conley, 2014; Sutton & Fall, 1995). Melchert and colleagues (1996) developed the Counselor Self-Efficacy Scale (CSES) to examine counselors' and counselor trainees' level of confidence in knowledge and skills regarding counseling competencies. …

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