Assessing social activism in counselors: Power, justice, and dogmatism

Date of Completion

January 2002


Psychology, Social|Education, Guidance and Counseling|Education, Educational Psychology




Historically, one of the roles counselors were expected to perform was that of an agent for social change. In the last four decades numerous counseling professionals have campaigned for the counseling profession to return to a social action orientation. The current study began by revisiting what these advocates for counselors as agents of social change had to say. The purpose of the current study was to access and compare individuals at different stages in counseling careers for attitudes and qualities related to social action. The participants for the study were (a) 30 first-year master's degree students, (b) 30 second-year master's degree students, (c) 10 counselor educators, and (d) 10 practicing counselors from Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited and CACREP-like master's degree programs in counseling. All study participants were from CACREP or CACREP-like master's degree programs in Connecticut. Questionnaires used for data collection consisted of (a) The D-10 Scale (Schulze, 1962), a shortened version of the Rokeach Dogmatism Scale (Rokeach, 1960); and (b) the combined Personal Power and Injustice Scales (O'Neill, Duffy, Enman, Blackmer, Goodwin, & Campbell, 1988). The study data were collected in a group format, in a classroom setting, and through the use of mailed questionnaires. ^ The general research questions investigated were: (a) Do counselors, at various levels of educational and professional experience, indicate scores on the PP, IJ, and D-10 Scales that correspond to a profile for social activism? and (b) Is there a significant difference in performance, on the PP, IJ, and D-10 Scales, between first-year master's degree students, second year master's degree students, counselor educators, and practicing counselors? ^ Findings indicate that all four counseling groups generated profiles on the three instruments that were consistent with groups who engage in social action. Future research could continue to investigate other individualistic qualities and skills that prevent counselors from engaging in social action, or future research could begin to focus on environmental, situational, and societal factors that stymie counselors from functioning as agents of social change. ^