Title

Wide Open Spaces: Rural Counseling Competency in Counselor Education Programs

Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2018

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Counseling

Department

Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Kenneth Messina

Keywords

rural, counseling, competency, counselor education

Abstract

Rural populations are critically underserved in the provision of mental health services (HRSA, 2018). A lack of rural cultural knowledge among trained professionals is a key factor contributing to the difficulty in securing a competent workforce for the dissemination of services. Based on data provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), there is a substantial need for masters-level counselors throughout rural America. Provided that much of the literature on the subject of rural counseling competency has come mainly from the viewpoint of the responsibilities of doctoral-level psychologists there emerges a discrepancy. Currently, the educational opportunities for acquiring these skills within counselor education programs is scant, even within multicultural texts that mainly address working with ethnically and racially diverse populations (Collins & Arthur, 2010). Further, as many programs are primarily located within more urban-based settings much of the curriculum and training opportunities fail to address unique characteristics, concerns, and barriers that come with rural mental health competency and practice (Helbok, 2003; Jameson & Blank, 2007). Most importantly, there is a need for more research and competency development within counselor education at the master’s level (Fifield & Oliver, 2016) due to the heightened desirability for practitioners holding a master’s degree in counseling.

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