This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Perceived Competence and Attitudes of Counseling Psychology Graduate Students Regarding People with Disabilities




Hollimon, Matthew

Type of Degree



Counseling Psychology
Counselor Education
School Psychology


Historically, people with disabilities (PWD) have been stigmatized and discriminated against by society as a whole. People with disabilities constitute the largest minority group within the United States. Hence, counseling psychologists will likely work with PWD no matter the counseling setting. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to identify the attitudes counseling psychology graduate students hold towards PWD and discover any relationship between those attitudes and their perceived competence regarding PWD. Also, this study aimed to find if prior close, equal status contact with PWD was related to greater perceived competence regarding PWD and more positive attitudes regarding PWD. One hundred thirty-two counseling psychology graduate students in doctoral level programs participated in this study. Participants were located across the United States and all were student affiliates of the American Psychological Association (APA). Perceived competence regarding PWD was assessed through the use of the Counseling Clients with Disabilities Survey (CCDS) and attitudes towards PWD was assessed through the Attitudes Towards Disabled Persons Scale, Form A (ATDP-A). The findings indicated that counseling psychology graduate students tend to have positive attitudes and perceived competence regarding PWD and disability related issues. Specifically, the participants demonstrated greatest perceived competence in the area of self-awareness, followed by perceived knowledge and lastly, perceived skills. The sample was divided into two groups based on their reported level of contact with PWD. Those who reported close contact with PWD had a higher perceived competence regarding PWD. No connection was found between their reported level of contact with PWD and attitudes towards PWD. Lastly, a weak positive correlation was found between attitudes regarding PWD and perceived competence regarding PWD. These findings displayed a wealth of understanding regarding counseling psychology graduate students’ perceived competence and attitudes regarding PWD.