Advocating for Advocacy: An Exploratory Survey on Student Advocacy Skills and Training in Counseling Psychology

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Abstract

Advocacy is considered a core competency within the field of counseling psychology, however more attention is needed to the training and assessment of advocacy competence for counselors-in-training. This study utilized Ratts and Ford’s (2010) Advocacy Competencies Self-Assessment survey to measure self-perceived advocacy competence of master’s and doctoral students within counseling (Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs–accredited) and counseling psychology (American Psychological Association–accredited) programs. An exploratory factor analysis suggested 3 underlying factors in self-reported advocacy competence: Alliance Building and Systems Collaboration, Action and Assessment, and Awareness Building. Master’s and doctoral students displayed marginal differences in Advocacy Competencies Self-Assessment scores with doctoral students scoring slightly higher in the Awareness Building factor. Respondents’ perceived level of advocacy importance was a significant predictor of advocacy competence. Program characteristics (advocacy-related resources and opportunities to engage in advocacy activities) were also significant predictors of perceived competence. We propose a developmental model of advocacy competency acquisition as a basis for future research on assessment and training of advocacy skills.

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