An investigation of counselor trainees' adoption and transracial adoption perceptions, attitudes, knowledge, and skills
Cate, Emilie Elizabeth
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Cate, Emilie Elizabeth
The purpose of this study was to examine counselor trainees' perceptions of adopted clients and explore how trainee perceptions may vary according to counselor trainees' adoption-related knowledge, attitudes, and clinical skills. This study extends the limited body of research examining mental health professionals' potential bias related to adopted clients in their approach to treatment and case conceptualization. Counselor trainees (N = 430) read one of six client case study vignettes that were identical except for variations on client adoption status (adopted, transracially adopted, nonadopted) and client sex (male or female), resulting in six different stimuli conditions. Group differences were examined for two independent variables (client adoption status and client sex) and dependent variables measuring counselor trainees' perceptions of clients in four areas: (a) seriousness of treatment plan and prognosis, (b) assignment of favorable or unfavorable adjectives to clients, (c) counselor trainees' assessment of client level of functioning, and (d) diagnosis behavior. Preexisting counselor adoption knowledge, attitudes, and skills were assessed by the Knowledge, Attitudes, and Skills of Adoption Survey (KASAS) that was created and validated specifically for this study. Results of exploratory factor analyses on the KASAS revealed a cogent, three-factor structure for the measure with high factor internal consistency. The main study research questions were then addressed within the context of several univariate general linear models. Findings demonstrated that counselor trainees perceive adopted clients generally more negatively than nonadopted clients. Participants rated same-race adopted clients as lower functioning than nonadopted clients, reported having greater overall concern for adopted clients (both same-race and transracially adopted) in comparison with nonadopted clients, and rated adopted clients' problems as more severe than those of nonadopted clients despite being presented with otherwise identical presenting issues. Descriptive data revealed that 64% of trainees reported lack of preparation to deal with or no knowledge about adoption, and 89% reported wanting additional clinical training about adoption Implications for future research and practice are presented.