|From the ERIC database
Assessment of Counselor Performance. ERIC Digest.
Assessment of counselor performance is directly linked to assessment of counseling outcome because, presumably, counseling outcome is contingent upon counselor performance. Thus, the assessment of counseling outcome literature is the general context for the more specific literature on assessment of counselor performance, and the same major themes are evident in both arenas. Historically, counselor performance has been assessed, either directly or vis-a-vis outcome, primarily in regard to actual counseling service rendered through assessments by counselors themselves, their clients, or external evaluators. However, recently, non-counseling activities also have been assessed as part of the overall evaluation of counselor performance.
Many methodologies have been used to assess counselor performance, including assessments such as interviews, linguistic content analyses, simulations, self-reports, applications of behavioral criteria, and rating scales. The focus of these assessments has ranged from the global to the specific. Rating scales are the most commonly used method, but no assessment procedure has emerged as most psychometrically appropriate, reliable, valid, or effective.
Counselor self-assessments are popular among counselors, and arguably valuable, for purposes of self-development and improvement. However, because of their subjectivity, their results rarely have been generalizable. Also, the methodologies generally have not withstood psychometric scrutiny. Therefore, counselor self-assessments are not widely used for effective assessment of counselor performance.
ASSESSMENTS BY CLIENTS
A counselor's "helpfulness" has been most frequently assessed by clients through use of post-counseling "debriefing" interviews or rating scales. Typically assessed is the client's perceptions of the counselor's personal dynamics (e.g., degree of caring) or actions or behaviors which were helpful. The focus has often been on the latter, but some suggest it should be on the former (Herman, 1993).
Some rating scales have been developed to allow clients to assess counselors' personal dynamics. However, most are intended to allow client evaluation of the extent to which the counselor engaged in behaviors (particularly verbalizations) presumed or established to be related to counseling effectiveness. Some of these instruments have been shown to have quite good psychometric properties. Quality issues aside, however, use of rating scales completed by clients is one of the two most common methods of assessment of counselor performance.
Client self-assessment of change as an indicator of counselor performance typically has involved commentary, ratings, or self or other reported behavior changes. Unfortunately, however, these procedures have been used only infrequently for assessment of counselor performance, probably because the best data are obtained some time after counseling has been terminated.
ASSESSMENTS BY EXTERNAL EVALUATORS
A wide variety of external assessment methodologies have been employed, including some only infrequently used in the counseling profession such as content analyses, critical incident techniques, or computer simulations (McLeod, 1992). However, rating scales again are the most frequently used assessment method. Rating scales have been developed to assess many different aspects of counselor performance, but most are focused upon the frequency and/or effectiveness of counselors' use of specific and behaviorally defined counseling skills.
The results of external assessments of counselor performance have been used in the context of both formative and summative evaluations. In the formative context, rating scales completed by counselors' supervisors, peers-in-training, or professional colleagues are often used on some regularly scheduled basis to provide process or skill development feedback to the counselors assessed. In the summative context, results from rating scales completed by supervisors, colleagues, or researchers are often used for program or personnel evaluation or research purposes.
ASSESSMENT OF NON-COUNSELING FUNCTIONS
The assessment of counselor performance will be enhanced when assessments are clearly and cogently described (Meier & Davis, 1990) and are used within an effective conceptual (evaluation) scheme (Lambert, Ogles, & Masters, 1992). Even more importantly, however, truly effective counselor performance assessment will be achieved when the assessments used fulfill accepted psychometric quality criteria (McLeod, 1992).
Herman, K.C. (1993). Reassessing predictors of therapist competence. Journal of Counseling and Development, 72(1), 29-32.
Lambert, M.J., Ogles, B.M., & Masters, K.S. (1992). Choosing outcome assessment devices: An organizational and conceptual scheme. Journal of Counseling and Development, 70(4), 527-532.
McLeod, J. (1992). What do we know about how best to assess counsellor competence? Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 5(4), 359-372.
Meier, S.T., & Davis, S.R. (1990). Trends in reporting psychometric properties of scales used in counseling psychology research. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 37(1), 113-115.
Ponterotto, J.G., Rieger, B.P., Barrett, A., & Sparks, R. (1994). Assessing multicultural counseling competence: A review of instrumentation. Journal of Counseling and Development, 72(3), 316-322.
Ridgway, I.R. (1990). Multiple measures for prediction of counselor trainee effectiveness. Canadian Journal of Counselling, 24(3), 165-177.
Larry C. Loesch, Ph.D., NCC, is a professor and graduate coordinator in the Department of Counselor Education at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida.
ERIC Digests are in the public domain and may be freely reproduced and disseminated. This publication was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Contract No. RR93002004. Opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the positions of the U.S. Department of Education, OERI, or ERIC/CASS
Title: Assessment of Counselor Performance. ERIC Digest.
Descriptors: Counseling; Counseling Effectiveness; * Counselor Evaluation; * Counselor Performance; * Evaluation Methods; Evaluation Research; Evaluators; Outcomes of Treatment; Personnel Evaluation; Psychological Evaluation; Self Evaluation [Individuals]
Identifiers: ERIC Digests
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