Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Rehabilitation Counseling

First Advisor

Dr. Noreen M. Graf

Second Advisor

Dr. Bruce J. Reed

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael A. Abebe


The purpose of this dissertation study was to explore the experiences, perceptions, and readiness (EPR) of vocational rehabilitation counselors (VRCs) supporting people with disabilities (PWD) in self-employment. While PWD are twice as likely to be self-employed than the general population, self-employment case closure rates within vocational rehabilitation remain historically low around 2%.

Descriptive, inferential, and correlational statistical analysis were used to investigate the EPR of 205 Certified Rehabilitation Counselors across the nation via an online survey, the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Self-Employment Process Survey (VRC-SEPS). The VRC-SEPS consists of demographic items, two Likert-type scales examining experiences and readiness, and a set of matched adjective pairs to assess perceptions. This study also identified characteristics that VRCs view as necessary for self-employment success, examined EPR domains from which VRCs perform their work helping PWD, and investigated correlations between these domains and case closure rates.

Several differences were found among counselors related to gender, age, agency, work setting, self-employment status, and years worked, among others. Further investigation is needed to explore self-employment training of rehabilitation counselors and professionals.


Copyright 2018 Deborah Ashley. All Rights Reserved.