A Measure of Counselor Competency
Karen Eriksen & Garrett McAulUJe
Counselor educators need to be able to demonslrate their effectl\le~
ness In tralnlng new counselors: however. currenUy few valid or reU·
able measures exist for assessing educalors' lrnpacL. The aulhors
describe lhe development of such an lnslrumenl. the Counseling
Skills Scale. They began by revising an existing scale and then they
soliciled feedback Crom e."<perls and a focus group. They used the
Inslrument to compare beginrtlng counselors-in-trainlng with those
who had completed a counseUng sltiUs course. Finally. lhey conducted
an item analysis. A paJred l tcst showed sIgnillca.nl Improvements In
counseling skills (t= 4.51 . p< .000) from pretest to posttesl Cronbacb·s
alpha showed internal consistency to be .90.
The counseling profession must be able to demonstrate Its effec-
tiveness if it is to gain the confidence of Its public and if its mem-
bers are to practice ethically. Ln parallel fashion. Individuals In
the counselor education field itself must also measure their abil1ty
to produce effective and ethical counselors.
However. many unanswered questions exist about the best way
to assess counseling students' competency. Although efforts have
been made to develop Instruments that rnlght measure counseling
effectiveness. the reliability and valld1ty of these instruments are
generally unsatisfactory (Alberts & Edelstein. 1990; McLennan.
1994; Ponterotto & Furlong. 1985: Shaw & Dobson. 1988: StruPp.
1986). Ln light of this need and these limitations. we desCribe in
this article the development of a valid and reliable measure of coun-
selor competency. one that is particularly targeted at assessing
the skills of beginning counseling students.
Literature Review: Measuring Skills Com etence
The so-called skills training approach (e.g .. Ivey. 1971; Truax &
Carkh uff. 1967) has dominated counselor training for the past 30
Karen Eriksen. Department of Counselor Educar,fDn. Radford Unlversfty: Garrefl