Counseling and Complementary Therapy and Complementary Therapy: A National Survey of Counselors’ Experiences

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  • Counseling and Complementary Therapy:

    A National Survey of Counselors Experiences

    Trent Alan Davis

    Dissertation submitted to the faculty of the

    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

    in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

    Doctor of Philosophy

    In

    Counselor Education

    Hildy Getz, Co-chair

    Kusum Singh, Co-chair

    Gerard Lawson

    Maria Papadakis

    Christina McGrady Mathai

    April 11, 2005

    Blacksburg, Virginia

    Keywords: Complementary Therapy, Alternative Therapy, Counseling, Counselor

    Education, Referral, Inclusion, Personal Experience

    Copyright 2005, Trent Alan Davis

  • Counseling and Complementary Therapy:

    A National Survey of Counselors Experiences

    Trent Alan Davis

    Co-chairs: Hildy Getz and Kusum Singh

    (ABSTRACT)

    There has been little research to date specifically addressing counselors

    experiences with complementary therapy. The objective of this exploratory survey was to

    assess counselors professional practice, knowledge and training, and personal experience

    with complementary therapy. The study design was a web-based, random sample survey

    of American Counseling Association members.

    Results indicated the typical respondent was female, Caucasian, holds a Masters

    degree and works in a private practice/self-employed or community agency setting as an

    outpatient counselor. Few respondents asked about or had clients volunteer use of

    complementary therapy. Anxiety and depression were the most common client concerns

    for which respondents recommended or referred for complementary therapy.

    Respondents agreed that client referrals should be to licensed or certified practitioners.

    Respondents reported that complementary therapy provided clients with at least some

    positive benefits and few negative consequences.

    The majority of respondents included complementary therapy in counseling

    during the past year and thought that complementary therapy should be included in

    addition to counseling. Although respondents considered themselves qualified to discuss

    a variety of complementary therapies, few possessed licensure or certification. The

    majority of respondents used informal, self-study to gain knowledge of complementary

    therapy. Most respondents have personally experienced at least one complementary

    therapy, primarily To improve overall wellness. Respondents reported they received

    some to large benefits from this experience.

    A number of respondents descriptors had moderately positive associations with

    client usage, recommendation and referral, inclusion, and knowledge factors. These

    descriptors were those respondents who worked in a private practice/self-employed

    setting, as an outpatient counselor, were licensed as an LPC, provided individual,

    family/couples, or alcohol/substance abuse counseling, and had a psychodynamic

  • iii

    orientation. There were moderately negative associations between respondents who

    worked in a K-12 setting, did not possess mental health licensure and were a Masters

    student and client usage, recommendation and referral, and inclusion factors.

    The data provide support for the idea that counselors are beginning to embrace a

    post-modern approach, which gives consideration to complementary therapy

    interventions. However, the findings also suggested that the counseling profession still

    has a good deal of work to do before it can be considered truly holistic.

  • iv

    DEDICATION

    I dedicate this dissertation to my family for their support throughout this long process.

    Thank you all for your patience and understanding of the long hours I spent working on

    my computer. I also wish to thank my parents for believing in me I finally did it!

  • v

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    I wish to acknowledge my committee members for their encouragement throughout this

    dissertation. I also appreciate their enthusiastic support for my dissertation subject matter.

    Thank you to my co-chair Hildy Getz for her kind spirit, intellectual acumen and

    openness. You made this a great experience.

    Thank you to my co-chair Kusum Singh for her intelligence, insight and humor. You

    were awesome.

    Thank you to Gerard Lawson for his thoughtful feedback at my final defense. I look

    forward to creating a great article together.

    Thank you to Maria Papadakis for her friendship and professional support throughout this

    process. You helped me more than you know.

    Thank you to Christina Mathai for being willing to take on another task along with

    raising your son. Your experience was invaluable.

    Thank you to Vicki Meadows for her calm demeanor and making the paperwork easy.

    A special thanks go to my wife, Joyce, for her personal and professional sustenance. I

    know you will be almost as happy as I am when this is done.

    Thank you also to Ethan and Alanis for their good-humored tolerance of something they

    cannot quite understand yet. Also, a special gratitude goes out to my furry friends, Skippy

    and Summer for their companionship throughout this process. You may miss me when

    this is done.

  • vi

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    ABSTRACT........................................................................................................................ ii

    DEDICATION................................................................................................................... iv

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS................................................................................................ v

    TABLE OF CONTENTS................................................................................................... vi

    LIST OF TABLES............................................................................................................. ix

    CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION................................................................................. 1

    Rationale for the Study ................................................................................................. 3

    Statement of the Problem.............................................................................................. 7

    Purpose of the Study ..................................................................................................... 8

    Research Questions....................................................................................................... 8

    Significance of the Study .............................................................................................. 8

    Methodology................................................................................................................. 9

    Definition of Terms....................................................................................................... 9

    Delimitations and Limitations..................................................................................... 10

    Summary ..................................................................................................................... 11

    CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.................................................... 12

    The Shifting Paradigm of Complementary Therapy................................................... 13

    Effects of Dualism ................................................................................................. 14

    Paradigms Shift ................................................................................................ 15

    Definitions and Categories of Complementary Therapy ............................................ 17

    Utilization Trends in Complementary Therapy .......................................................... 19

    Mental Health Consumers Experiences with Complementary Therapy ................... 20

    The Emergent Role of Counselors and Complementary Therapy .............................. 23

    Training and Education in Complementary Therapy.................................................. 24

    Summary ..................................................................................................................... 25

    CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY ......................................................................... 26

    Web-based Survey Research....................................................................................... 26

    Participants.................................................................................................................. 30

    Representativeness...................................................................................................... 31

    Response Rate............................................................................................................. 31

  • vii

    Sample Size................................................................................................................. 31

    Calculation of Sample Size......................................................................................... 33

    Confidentiality and Informed Consent........................................................................ 34

    Delimitations and Limitations..................................................................................... 34

    Research Questions................................................................................