Spirituality, religion, counseling, competence, instrument development, delphi method, script concordance test


The need to address spiritual and religious issues is well established in the counseling literature and in accreditation standards, however, many graduates counseling students do not feel prepared to address these issues. In the United States, the vast majority of clients consider themselves to be spiritual or religious, so counselors who lack competence in addressing spiritual and religious issues in counseling are likely to offer ineffective or perhaps unethical care to clients. Counselor educators must improve education and assessment in this critical specialty area of counseling. Of primary concern is a student’s ability to demonstrate spiritual competence in counseling. The 2009 ASERVIC Spiritual Competencies offer the most comprehensive standard of spiritual competence in counseling in any mental health profession, however there is no reliable and standardized assessment that measures demonstrated spiritual competency. Competency can best be measured when the examinee makes choices in a context that is similar or the same as that in which he or she will practice, therefore an effective competency measurement must include client cases. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether a case based assessment for measuring clinical judgment in situations of uncertainty, called a Script Concordance Test, could be constructed by experts using the Delphi Method. This instrument was based on the 2009 ASERVIC Spiritual Competencies as the standard for demonstrated competence. iv The results of this study indicated that expert practitioners and educators could come to consensus on appropriate cases, appropriate competencies to measure in each case, items to assess competency in each case, and an instrument that included items assessing all 14 of the 2009 Spiritual Competencies. Additionally, the constructed instrument demonstrated excellent test retest reliability and adequate internal reliability. There are several implications for counselor education, First, this study provides evidence that expert practitioners and educators can come to consensus to construct a highly contextual instrument to measures clinical decision making about spiritual competence in counseling. Second, a promising new type of instrument with excellent reliability and strong content validity has been introduced to the field of counselor education. Third, with appropriate assessment, counselor education programs can begin to measure student competence, in terms of clinical judgment, on addressing spiritual and religions issues in counseling over time because this instrument is appropriate for use at different intervals throughout professional development. Fourth, the format of this instrument is also useful for educational purposes and reflective practice. Finally, the theoretical foundations of the Delphi Method and script concordance tests are compatible with one another and with instrument development. The researcher recommends that future studies to construct script concordance tests for other specialty areas of competence employ and refine this method.


If this is your thesis or dissertation, and want to learn how to access it or for more information about readership statistics, contact us at

Graduation Date





Young, Mark


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance

Degree Program

Education; Counselor Education








Release Date


Length of Campus-only Access

3 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Education and Human Performance, Education and Human Performance -- Dissertations, Academic