spirituality, religion, counselor education, ASERVIC, Spiritual Competency Scale, factor analysis


Spiritual and religious beliefs are significant aspects of a person's worldview and have been well established within many disciplines as a resource for physical and mental health. Therefore, they are relevant topics for counselors. The governing bodies of the counseling profession support the discussion of these beliefs in counseling. To meet the ethical mandates for competency in this area, the Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling (ASERVIC) produced the Spiritual Competencies. Despite these efforts, spiritual and religious material continues to be neglected in counselor training programs. In the absence of a formal measure of spiritual competency, curricular recommendations have been based more on speculation about what should be taught than on empirical evidence of students' deficits in spiritual competency. A further concern is that there is no existing measure to empirically evaluate the efficacy of this type of training. The purpose of this study was to meet these needs through the development of the Spiritual Competency Scale (SCS). The pilot instrument was administered to 100 participants at a southeastern secular university. The final study included 602 participants from 25 secular and religiously-based universities in 17 states across the nation. All participants were master's level students who were enrolled in mental health, community, school, marriage and family, and pastoral counseling tracks. The items were drawn from the literature and address each of ASERVIC's nine Spiritual Competencies. Content validity was establishing through item-competency consensus by an expert panel. A 6 factor oblique model was extracted through exploratory factor analysis and an item analysis supported the revised instrument. The pilot instrument yielded favorable test-retest reliability (i.e., .903) and internal consistency coefficients (i.e., .932). Cronbach's alpha for the 28-item revised instrument (i.e., .896) and for each of the resultant factors (i.e., from .720 to .828) was also satisfactory. There was no evidence of socially desirable response sets in either administration. The discriminant validity of the SCS was supported by this finding and through a contrasted groups approach. Students from religiously-based schools had significantly higher scores than their secular counterparts. There were also differences in scores based on a variety of demographic variables. The findings of this study support the use of the SCS to inform curriculum development, as a measure of training outcomes, and as a tool for the certification of spiritually competent counselors. Recommendations are made for future analysis of the psychometric properties of the SCS and the limitations of the study are discussed.


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Graduation Date



Young, Mark


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education


Child, Family, and Community Sciences

Degree Program









Release Date

December 2008

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

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Education Commons