Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Rehabilitation Counseling

First Advisor

Dr. Roy K. Chen

Second Advisor

Dr. Jerome Fischer

Third Advisor

Dr. Veronica Umeasiegbu


The purpose of the study is to examine the social justice advocacy competencies of rehabilitation counselor trainees. The study aims to explore rehabilitation counselor trainees’ self-perceived social justice advocacy competencies. More specifically, counselor trainees’ demographic and training variables will be examined to understand the process of social justice advocacy competency. Also, the study will explore the correlation between social justice advocacy competency and ethical awareness. A convenience sample of counselor trainees who are in a master’s-level or doctoral level rehabilitation counseling program or related counseling program was utilized for this study. In total, 132 counselors in training completed the online survey. Demographic variables such as age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability status did not predict social justice advocacy competency for this sample; however, ethical awareness did predict social justice advocacy competency. Counselor training variables such as completion of a stand-alone advocacy course, Master-level classification and completion of an internship or practicum course did predict social justice advocacy competency for this sample; however, counseling program (Rehabilitation counseling) did not. Furthermore, the variable Master-level classification had an inverse effect to social justice advocacy competency score. In regards to relationship of variables, there was a small positive relationship between ethical awareness and social justice advocacy competency. Counselor trainees demonstrated the need for more preparation in particular levels and domains of social justice advocacy, for example, systems advocacy, public information and social/political advocacy. Thus, it is critical that counseling training integrate social justice advocacy both in theory and practice. A suggestion for educators and programs is to highlight social justice advocacy as a core value of professional counseling. To enforce this, a program can include social justice advocacy competency as a component in the graduate comprehensive examination.


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