Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Rehabilitation and Counselor Education
Noel Estrada Hernandez
The importance of ethics in helping professions and ethics education in counselor preparation programs have been stressed and discussed greatly. In order to foster helping professionals' ethical behaviors to ensure clients' rights and welfare, professional organizations have developed codes of ethics to serve as guidelines for helping professionals in ethical decision making; accreditation bodies for counselor education programs also have included standards of including ethics into curriculum. Studies regarding ethics-related issues and ethics education have been broadly explored and discussed within the counseling profession. Research regarding ethics education has emphasized the goals of ethics education, teaching in an ethical manner, using ethical instructional materials, and other general elements in ethics education, and was mainly focused on the perspectives of counselor educators. However, there has been a lack of studies to examine the outcome and influence ethics education has had on students' ability and practice. The purposes of the present study are to: (a) discover the current status of ethics education in master's rehabilitation counseling programs across the United States; (b) identify the general profiles of ethical orientations among a sample of master's students in rehabilitation counseling programs; (c) determine whether ethics education would impact future counselors' ethical reasoning and decision-making skills in terms of ethical orientation; and (d) explore rehabilitation counseling master's students' satisfaction towards ethics education and training received in the programs and their self-perceived confidence and competence level in making ethical decisions.
The study surveyed a total of 47 master's students in rehabilitation counseling programs. The results showed that a majority of programs offered ethics education in a combination method of a separate course and infused ethics-related topics throughout the curriculum, and 48 and 60 credit hours were the commonly adopted graduation requirements. ACA Codes of Ethics and Code of Professional Ethics for Rehabilitation Counselors by Commissions on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) were the commonly used materials in ethics education. Dual relationships on non-sexual nature, confidentiality, informed consent, duty to warn, and scope of practice were the five topics that were indicated to be important concepts to be covered in ethics education. In addition, lecture and whole class discussion were the common adopted methods in teaching ethics, while students' preparation was usually evaluated by examinations, assigned case studies, and term papers. Examination was not perceived as the most helpful evaluation method by master's students. On the other hand, practicum supervision and case studies were perceived to be more helpful in evaluating students' competence to practice ethically.
The ethical reasoning level of all participants as a whole exhibited a primary emphasis on individuals' needs, while societal regulations, norms, and laws are recognized but are considered as secondary concerns in ethical decision making. The results of data analyses also showed that students who received varied formats of ethics education and in different demographic information groups did not demonstrate significant differences on the degree of their moral development and sophistication of ethical reasoning. Moreover, on a 6-point Likert scale, participants reported to have a mean of 4.48 on their satisfaction about their current ethics education and have an overall mean of 4.39 on the confidence level and an overall mean of 4.53 on self-reported competence level in approaching and handling an ethical situation.
viii, 114 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 109-114).
Copyright 2013 Yi-Hua Tsai