The graduate training of counselors in religious and spiritual competency
Adams, Christopher Michael
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The increasing cultural diversity in the United States (U.S.) has challenged counselors to become knowledgeable about various culturally-relevant factors, including clients' religious and spiritual beliefs. These aspects of clients' cultural background and worldview may be overlooked, possibly due to the minimal attention paid to these in many counselors' own lives. Some authors (G. Miller, 1999; Young, Cashwell, Wiggins-Frame, & Belaire, 2002) have developed competencies to assist counselors effectively address religious or spiritual (RS) issues in counseling. However, minimal research has evaluated such competencies, particularly within counselor education and training. The current study examined to what extent students within APA- and CACREP-accredited counseling programs receive training in RS issues. The study also examined how important various RS competencies were to students and training directors (TDs), to what degree students are trained and prepared in these competencies, and how participants' own religiosity and spirituality were related to these. Results suggest that counseling programs generally do not offer courses specifically addressing RS issues and that most students do not receive supervision in these, although they are addressed with students' core coursework. Generally, participants believed the competencies to be at least moderately important. Although statistically significant differences were not found between students' and TDs' reports of training and preparation in the competencies, medium effect sizes were found for these differences. No differences were found based on program or degree type. Last, participants' religiosity was generally found to have a low positive correlation with the importance of the RS competencies, while spirituality was found to have low negative correlations with the importance of, and training and preparation in, the competencies. Limitations and implications of the present study are also addressed.