Graduate Counseling Students' Interest in Gerocounseling A Quantitative Study
Nielsen, Twyla Ann
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A growing population of older persons in the United States will require not only additional counselors but counselors who are trained to work with an aging adult population. Recent trends indicate that counselor education programs have moved away from gerocounseling as an academic track as well as eliminating units on aging from courses currently offered to counselors-in-training. Some graduate counselor education programs offer individual courses in aspects of gerontological counseling. If the counseling profession is to meet the rapidly increasing needs of a growing older population, more attention must be given to training counselors to meet the needs of this population. The purpose of this study was to assess graduate counseling students, from counselor education programs, regarding the students’ willingness to participate in gerocounseling training and identify specific topics of interest that the graduate counseling students would most be interested in counseling aging adults. Forty-four counselor education programs were contacted in the North Central Region of the Association of Counselor and Education Supervision (North Central ACES) and 211 students responded to the electronic survey through Survey Monkey. The results showed that graduate counseling students are very interested in gerocounseling and working with older adults. Students were willing to take additional coursework but not to the extent that it would delay graduation. Students indicated that they felt prepared to counsel older adults; however, none of the graduate counseling students surveyed had completed their field experience which could impact that sense of preparedness. As the aging population increases, so does the need for counselors who can help older adults with life transitions. It is important that counselor education programs have faculty that identify as gerontology specialists, that graduate counseling students have specialized coursework and are performing research specific to counseling older adults.