Factors Predicting the Reporting Behavior of Clinical Mental Health Counselors in Texas




Smith, Megan D.

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Child abuse is a national health concern with well-documented consequences. In Texas, Clinical Mental Health Counselors (CMHC) are considered mandatory reporters. Many counselors disclose various barriers to reporting suspected child abuse. While counselors do state barriers to reporting, the research shows that, as a whole, counselors make reports of suspected child abuse. This study examined the factors that predict CMHC's reporting behavior; as well as, perceived barriers to reporting. Participants were fully licensed CMHC in Texas who work directly with children, families, or adults with children. Demographic information was collected from participants, including gender, age and ethnicity. Participants completed a cross-sectional survey that assessed the length of time they spent in full licensure, their knowledge of the law, their perception of their ability to recognize the signs and symptoms of abuse, the role of severity, their attitudes towards the reporting process, and any perceived barriers that they may have towards the mandatory reporting process. Participants read eight case vignettes involving hypothetical scenarios of potential child sexual abuse, physical abuse, child neglect, and witness to domestic violence. The participants answered if they would report the hypothetical scenario or not. Descriptive statistics were used to evaluate all the demographic variables. Frequency and percentages were calculated for all categorical variables. A multiple regression was conducted to analyze the likelihood of reporting abuse. The model was found to be statistically significant, specifically with regards to race, F(7,101) = 2.110, p ≤ .05 (p = .049). Further analysis was needed to better understand where the differences originated from. A one-way ANOVA was conducted. Results from the analysis showed the reporting score was statistically significantly different between the different racial groups, F(2,108) = 3.880, p = .024. The reporting score increased from participants who identified as Hispanic (n = 18, M = 62.5, SD = 11.34), to participants who identified as Black (n =3, M = 70.83, SD = 14.43), to participants who identified as White (n = 90, M = 70.97, SD = 11.83). A Tukey-Kramer post hoc analysis was conducted to further explore the differences between the means. The analysis revealed that the mean increase from participants who identified as White to participants who identified as Hispanic (95% CI [1.23, 15.72]) was statistically significant (p = .018), but no other group differences were statistically significant.


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Child Abuse, Clinical Mental Health Counselors, Licensed Professional Counselors, Mandatory Reporting