Rural Counseling Competencies: A Delphi Study




McVay, Katherine E.

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This study explored rural counselors' experiences and expertise in providing services to rural communities. A review of the literature revealed rural counseling practices continue to be left out of counseling literature and research. While there are several different reasons for this including an inconsistent definition of rural, a lack of counselors in these areas, and COVID-19 considerations for rural counselors, the literature speaks to the differences in rural and urban counseling practices. Since the 2019 COVID pandemic, counseling practices have evolved, with rural counselors included. In the efforts to answer the call for more research to be conducted on rural counseling practices and the preparation of counselors to work in rural areas, this dissertation study sought to develop counseling competencies for rural practicing counselors. Utilizing the Delphi Method, up to 15 participants answered in each of the three rounds conducted in this study. The guiding research question formulated the round one questionnaire to ask participants what knowledge, skills, and attitudes and beliefs are necessary to work in rural communities. The next two rounds created competency statements from the round one questionnaire. Participants rated the essentialness of each of the developed competency statements. A total of 96 competency statements met consensus throughout the three rounds of the completed Delphi Study. Further discussion follows the results, along with implications for counselor educators, clinicians, and supervisors. The study concludes with the limitations and suggestions for future research surrounding rural counseling.


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Counseling Competencies, Delphi, Mental Health, Rural Counseling