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Arabian Journal of Business and Management Review
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Professional Competency among School and Non-School Counsellors in Rivers State, Nigeria

Maxwell D Eremie*

Department of Educational Foundations, Faculty of Technical and Science Education, University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt Rivers State, Nigeria

*Corresponding Author:
Dr. Maxwell. D. Eremie
Department of Educational Foundations
Faculty of Technical and Science Education
University of Science and Technology
Port Harcourt Rivers State, Nigeria
Tel: +2348034827746
E-mail: [email protected]

Received date: September 29, 2014; Accepted date: November 10, 2014; Published date: May 17, 2015

Citation: Eremie MD (2015) Professional Competency among School and Non-School Counsellors in Rivers State, Nigeria. Arab J Bus Manage Rev 5:3.

Copyright: © 2015 Eremie MD. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Keywords

Professional competency; Counsellors; Random sampling technique; Hypotheses

Introduction

Counsellors’ knowledge, understanding and application of various foundational issues in human growth and development is central in counselling relationship. Counsellors are required to have competencies in the stages of human development, such as, types of aging, concept of nature Vs nurture, continuous Vs discontinuous development. Counsellors are expected to demonstrate competency in the areas of special designs in human development research, case study, naturalistic study, survey research, cross-sectional design studies, longitudinal design studies, as well as time-lag studies [1-3].

It is expected that counsellors be able to demonstrate competencies in understanding human development in term of physical, cognitive and psychosocial domains. Theories of cognitive development describe how individual’s innact meaning from their experiences by using thought processes. Piaget [4] refuted the concept that learning was primarily biological or environmentally determined, and advanced the most influential and comprehensive approach to cognitive development. Also, to be noted in the cognitive theories areas are: Lev Vygotsky’s cognitive developmental theory, cognitive dissonance by Festing [5] and theories of language development.

In the helping profession, such as counselling, there are certain developmental requirements that an effective counsellor must possess to perform his or her functions effectively. The most effective counsellor is one who has achieved a balance of interpersonal and technical competence. Therefore, competencies in the areas of human growth and development, professional orientation and ethical practice, assessment, and the helping relationships are very paramount.

Professional orientation and ethical practice include much of the counselling curriculum. Professional counsellors in schools or nonschool settings must become very knowledgeable with ethical and legal practice in Nigeria and other parts of the world. Counsellors are also expected to understand the roles of professional organizations and several specialties in counselling practice.

The counselling profession in Nigeria and other countries includes counsellors who render services in various settings, from educational institutions, hospitals, and community health centers [6]. The counselling profession covers a number of distinct specializations, of which, each is concerned to addressing the special needs of a particular group of individuals. These specializations include: clinical mental health counselling, college admissions counselling, college and university counseling, rehabilitations counselling and school counselling.

In addition to the above, counsellors are expected to demonstrate competencies in the areas of assessment and helping relationship. Competency in assessment areas is very crucial for gathering and documenting information pertaining to client’s knowledge, skills, attitudes, and preferences. Assessment is the art of systematic and scientific process of gathering and documenting vital data for analysis and interpretations. Evaluative procedures used in counselling includes: clinical interviewing, informal assessment, personality assessment, and ability assessment [1].

The helping relationships area covers the key concepts, theories, skills, and interventions that make up the essentials of the counselling profession. Counsellors are expected to demonstrate competencies in the areas of: Counselling goals setting, orientation to wellness and prevention, counsellor characteristics and behaviours, essential interviewing and counselling skills, counselling theories, understanding family and other systems, and crises interventions and suicide prevention models [7].

Statement of the Problem

Competency is a household word in the written text and spoken words of people on the streets and professionals in various field of human endeavour. Society often talked about the police competence in protecting live and property. The classroom teachers are expected to demonstrate minimal competency to teach the learners. Medical practitioners are equally expected by patients to demonstrate competency in their service delivery in the hospitals and other related settings. Even professional drivers, pilots, and navigators are expected to demonstrate minimal competency in carrying out their daily functions.

Counsellors in the school and non-school settings are professional in the field of counselling, and are expected to have competencies in the areas of helping relationship, client assessment, human growth and development, and professional orientations and ethical practice. This researcher is interested to know if professional counsellors in school and non-school settings possess minimal competency to do their counselling work effectively in Rivers State, Nigeria.

Okonkwo [8] conducted a study on competency among school counsellors on the following areas: competencies on curriculum, responsive services, and system support. The study revealed that counsellors possessed minimal competencies. The variables under investigations in Okonkwo’s study are not educational core areas of the counselling professions.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to investigate counsellor competencies on the following educational core areas:

• Competencies in helping relationship

• Competencies in client assessment

• Competencies in human growth and development.

Research questions

Do counsellors in school and non-school settings possess competency in helping relationship?

Do counsellors in school and non-school settings possess competency in client assessment?

Do counsellors in school and non-school settings possess competency in human growth and development?

Hypotheses

For the purpose of this study, the following null hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level significance.

H01: There is no significant difference in competency level in the helping relationship among counsellors in school and non-school settings in Rivers State.

H02: There is no significant difference in competency level in client assessment among counsellors in school and non-school settings in Rivers State.

Scope of the Study

The study was limited to secondary school, and non-school settings counsellors in Rivers State. The study was, however, delimited to fifty (50) secondary schools with counsellors strength of fifty (50). While, non-school counsellors were limited to fifteen (15) organizations with counselor, strength of seventy (70).

Methodology

Research design

The research method utilized was the descriptive survey. The descriptive survey method was used because perception of the teachers’ competencies was the primary concern of this investigation. The t-test statistics was used to test the four stated hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. Mean scores of 2.50 and above were considered acceptable competency level, while scores below 2.50 were unacceptable competency level.

Population of the study

The study consisted of one hundred and twenty (120) school counsellors and non-school counsellors.

Sample and sampling techniques

The researcher considered using purposive sampling techniques since the population was small, all (120) subjects were utilized.

Instrumentation

The instrument utilized for this study was on likert scale, which was a 4-point interval scale: Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. The scale was entitled “Counsellor Competency Assessment Rating Scale” (CCARS). The scale has three (3) sections: competency in helping relationship, competency in client assessment, and competency in human growth and development.

Validation of the instrument

The instrument “CCARS” was subjected to content and face validity by experts in measurement and evaluation in the Faculty of Education.

Reliability of the instrument

Test-Retest method was used to determine the reliability of the instrument. After the first administration of the instrument, an interval of two weeks was reached before the second administration. A correlation coefficient of 0.82 was reached.

Results

Mean scores of 2.50 and above were considered acceptable competency level, while scores below 2.50 were unacceptable competency level also shown in Tables 1-3.

S/No Items School Counsellors Non-School Counsellors
1. Counselling goals-orientation to wellness and prevention. 3.3 2.50
2. Desired counsellors characteristics and behaviours 3.6 2.40
3. Essential interviewing and counselling 3.4 2.40
4. Counselling theories 3.0 2.00
5. Understanding family and other systems 3.7 2.00
6. Crises intervention 3.0 2.40

Table 1: Computation of the mean difference between School Counsellors and Non-School Counsellors Competency in helping Relationship. School Counsellors (50) Non-School Counsellors (70).

S/No Items School Counsellors Non-School Counsellors
1. Assessment in counselling 2.30 2.30
2. Basic concept of psychological testing 2.40 2.20
3. Statistical concept 2.40 2.30
4. Instrumentation 2.20 2.00

Table 2: Computation of the mean difference between School Counsellors and Non-School Counsellors Competency in Client Assessment.

S/No Items School Counsellors Non-School Counsellors
1. Physical, cognitive, and psychosocial aspect of human development. 3.5 2.00
2. Theories of learning and personality development. 3.5 2.20
3. Knowledge of crises, trauma and disaster management. 3.0 2.40
4. Understanding exceptional abilities 3.5 2.30

Table 3: Computation of the mean difference between School Counsellors and Non-School Counsellors’ Competency in Human Growth and Development.

Hypothesis 1: Was tested using the t-test statistics and the result is shown in Table 4.

Variables Respondents N Mean STD DEV STD Error DF P t-cal t-crit Dec.
Helping Relationship Sch. Counsellors Non-School 50
70
3.3
2.2
0.82
0.64
0.6886
.05361
118 0.05 2.40 1.96 Rej

Table 4: The t-test Analysis of the mean and Standard Deviation of Competency Performance of School Counsellors and Non-School setting Counsellors in helping Relationship.

The data in Table 4 showed that, the calculated t-value of school counsellors and non-school counsellors competency level in helping relationship was 2.40, while the critical t-value 1.96 at a degree of freedom of 118 at 0.05 level of confidence. Therefore, the null hypothesis one was rejected, meaning that, there was significant difference between the level of competency of school counsellors and non-school counsellors. School counsellors also showed a higher mean value of 3.3 compared to lower mean value 2.2 of non-school setting counsellors.

Hypothesis 2: Was tested using the t-test statistics and the result is shown in Table 5.

Variables Respondents N Mean STD DEV STD Error DF P t-cal t-crit Dec.
Client Assessment Sch. Counsellors Non-School 50
70
2.3
2.2
0.47
0.35
0.63
.058
118 0.05 0.97 1.96 Accpt.

Table 5: The t-test Analysis of the mean and standard deviation of Competency Performance of Counsellors and Non-School Counsellors in Client Assessment.

The data in Table 5 showed that, the calculated t-value of school counsellors and non-school setting counsellors competency level in human growth and development was 0.97, while the critical t-value 1.96 at degree of freedom 118 at 0.05 level of confidence. Therefore, the null hypothesis two was accepted, meaning that, there was no significant difference between the level of competence of school counsellors and non-school counsellors. Both school counsellors and non-school setting counsellors scored lower mean of 2.3 and 2.2 respectively.

Variables Respondents N Mean STD DEV STD Error DF P t-cal t-crit Dec.
Knowledge of human Sch. Counsellors 50 3.37 0.82 0.6889 118 0.05 2.43 1.96 Sig.
development growth   and Non-School 70 2.2 0.64 .05361         Reject
                        null hypothesis

Table 6: The t-test Analysis of the mean and standard deviation of Competency Performance of School Counsellors and Non-School Setting Counsellors in Human Development and growth.

Discussion

The findings of this study revealed that school counsellors demonstrated above average level of competencies in the areas of helping relationship. Counselling goals-orientation to wellness and prevention, desired counsellor characteristics and behaviours. While, non-school setting counsellors demonstrated below average competencies in the above mentioned areas.

Also, the finding revealed that both school counsellors and nonschool setting counsellors demonstrated below average level of competencies in the areas of client assessment including historical perspective of assessment, basic concept of standardized and nonstandardized testing. In addition, basic statistical concepts, including descriptive and inferential were demonstrated below average.

The study also revealed that, school counsellors demonstrated above average level of competencies, while non-school setting counsellors demonstrated below average competencies in the areas of human development and growth – physical, cognitive, and psychosocial aspect of human development. School counsellors demonstrated above average in competencies relating to theories of learning and personality development, while non-school setting counsellors demonstrated below average in the above categories. These findings were in line with [8-10].

Conclusion

Based on the above findings in this study, the researcher was poised to conclude that school counsellors were well trained in the areas of helping relationship, client assessment, and human development and growth. In most schools in Rivers State, school counsellors were also classroom teachers, as such were well prepared in the various aspects of academic training qualifying them to be counsellors.

The researcher, in addition, concluded that non-school setting counsellors may have been recruited without counselling related qualifications, such as, B.Sc, BA and B.Ed or advance degree in the field of counselling.

Recommendations

The government of Nigeria should encourage CASSON to start National Certification Programme for school and agency counsellors.

Colleges and universities offering programmes in counselling should encourage certification programmes for B.Sc and Masters Levels.

Core areas in counselling should be included in all colleges and universities curricula.

References

  1. Erford GT (2008) Research and evaluation in counselling. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin/Lahaska press, USA.
  2. CACREP (2009) Standard for human growth and development.
  3. Eremie MD (2004) Guidance and counselling: A Comprehensive Approach. Port Harcourt: Pearl Publishers, Nigeria.
  4. Piaget J (1963) The origin of intelligence in children. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, USA.
  5. Festinger L (1957) A theory of cognitive dissonance. Standford, C.A: Standford University press, UK.
  6. Corey MS, Corey G (2006) Group: Process and Practice. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.
  7. Tanigoshi H, Kontos AP, Remley Jr TP (2008) The effectiveness of individual wellness counselling on the wellness of law enforcement officers. J of Counselling and Dev 86: 64-74.
  8. Okonkwo MC (2011) Best Practice in Professional Counselling in Anambra State. Conference Proceeding of the Annual National Conference of the Counselling Association of Nigeria (CASSON).
  9. Awabil G (2011) Multiculturalism: Theories, competencies and counselling skills. Conference proceeding of the Annual National Conference of the Counselling Association of Nigeria (CASSON).
  10. Erfore BT (2007) Assessment for counsellors. Boston Houghton Mifflin/ Lahaska press, USA.
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