There is a growing movement within the counseling profession calling on counselors to integrate a social justice perspective into counseling theories, paradigms, and practices. However, there are no empirical studies illustrating how counselor preparation programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) are preparing master’s level counseling students for social justice. This is concerning given that social justice is considered critical to being an effective practitioner.
The purpose of this dissertation study is to ascertain whether CACREP-accredited counselor preparation programs are adequately preparing counseling students for social justice counseling. Accordingly, the Social Justice Counseling (SJC) survey, developed by this researcher, was distributed to instructors (N = 192) who teach “Social and Cultural Diversity” designated courses in CACREP-accredited counseling programs. The SJC Survey was reviewed for content, construct, and face validity and piloted. The Dillman (2000) mail survey method was utilized to distribute the SJC surveys.
A total of 108 SJC surveys were returned completed for a response rate of 56%. Findings indicated 97% of respondents incorporated social justice principles into “Social and Cultural Diversity” designated CACREP counseling courses. Social justice principles were also introduced to varying degrees by respondents. Parametric statistics (i.e., t-test, ANOVA, and Fisher’s LSD) were also employed. These tests indicate certain target (oppressed) and dominant (oppressor) group identities influence the degree to which issues of oppression are addressed. To illustrate, females focus on classism, ableism, and ageism more than males. In addition, faculty of color tend to address issues of sexism more than White faculty. Non-Christians were more likely to focus on heterosexism than Christians. Significant differences also existed for faculty rank and tenure status with respect to the degree to which issues of racism are addressed.
In conclusion, social justice advocacy efforts appear focused on microlevel interventions and less on macrolevel interventions. Textbooks and course titles tend to center on multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skills. Recommendations are made to develop social justice counseling competencies, to institutionalize social justice into counselor training, to equally address social justice at the microlevel and macrolevel, and to create social justice counseling textbooks and courses.
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