The integration of spirituality issues in CACREP counselor preparation programs and accredited theological schools
Pope, John-Nelson B.
MetadataShow full item record
The study utilized a sequential, mixed methods design comparing how the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) accredited counselor preparation programs and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) accredited institutions understand, interpret, and implement spirituality concepts within their programs. There were 511 invitations sent to faculty/department heads to participate in the online survey in both CACREP (n = 250) and ATS (n = 261) graduate programs. Ninety-nine completed the survey. Eleven participants, selected from the survey, agreed to be interviewed during the qualitative phase of the study. Chi square test for independence was conducted to determine if there was a relationship between institution accreditation (ATS vs. CACREP) and incorporating training in spirituality into the curriculum. Results of this analysis revealed a significant relationship between the two. Cross tabulation analysis revealed that more ATS accredited programs (93.2%) were prepared to teach/train students in spirituality than CACREP (68.2%) accredited programs. There was strong agreement among respondents from both CACREP and ATS accredited institutions that spirituality concepts should be infused throughout the course of study, M = 4.15, SD =1.14. To a lesser degree, there was agreement among the respondents that spirituality concepts should be taught through infusion and specific courses in the counselor training process, (M = 3.97, SD = 1.16). Interviewed participants described the infusion of spirituality competencies into their teaching, either in terms of their own theoretical orientation, practice, and personhood or as a curriculum requirement, that is, in accreditation standards. Respondents from theological schools reported that they prepared themselves to teach spirituality through theological reflection and experiences within ecclesiastical settings and were supported by their departments. Respondents from secular programs reported they did not experience that same level of support, although they did not encounter hindrances. When asked about what most hindered their successful teaching of spirituality concepts, respondents stated their students were reluctant to examine their beliefs. Conversely, respondents stated that their greatest success of teaching spirituality concepts occurred when their students became more open and accepting of others' belief systems and who deepened their ability to reflect about spiritual issues. The majority of accredited programs incorporate training in spirituality into the curriculum. Faculty are trained properly regarding spirituality concepts and the common methods they use in the classroom, and had no plans to increase their coverage of such concepts in the near future. The religious and spiritual beliefs and religious affiliation of respondents who participated in the survey and interviews corresponded with the general population of the United States.