counselor education, group counseling, counseling students, experiential groups


Counselor education programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) require their students to participate in a group experience as a member for 10 clock hours over the course of an academic term (CACREP, 2009). In addition, the Association for Specialists in Group Work (ASGW) recommends that students participate in a group experience as a member or a leader for at least 10 hours and states that 20 hours of participation is preferable (ASGW, 2000). Counselor education programs satisfy the requirement in a variety of ways (Anderson & Price, 2001; Armstrong, 2002; Merta et al., 1993); however, the two most common types of groups are unstructured (e.g., personal growth) (48%), and structured (e.g., psychoeducational) (38%), both requiring some level of self-disclosure by students (Armstrong, 2002). The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of two group approaches on counseling students' empathy development, group leader self-efficacy development, and their experience of the therapeutic factors. More specifically, this study compared personal growth groups and psychoeducational groups on the constructs of: (a) cognitive and affective empathy (Interpersonal Reactivity Index ; Davis, 1980), (b) group leader self-efficacy (Group Leader Self-Efficacy Instrument ; Page, Pietrzak, & Lewis, 2001), and cohesion, catharsis, and insight (Curative Climate Instrument ; Fuhriman, Drescher, Hanson, & Henrie, 1986). In addition, the study explored pre to post intervention change for each group on the constructs of cognitive and affective empathy and group leader self-efficacy. The statistical analyses in this study included (a) MANCOVA, (b) disrciminant analysis, and (c) repeated-measures ANOVAs. The participants in personal growth groups valued catharsis and insight at greater levels than participants in the psychoeducational groups. Additionally, there was not a difference between the groups at posttest on cognitive empathy, affective empathy, or group leader self-efficacy. Further, neither group experienced a change in cognitive or affective empathy from pre to post. However, both groups did experience an increase in group leader self-efficacy from pre to post.


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Graduation Date



Robinson, Edward H. (Mike)


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Education


Child, Family, and Community Sciences

Degree Program









Release Date

May 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Included in

Education Commons