Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Counselor Education


Leadership and Counselor Education

First Advisor

Suzanne Dugger

Second Advisor

Marc Showalter

Third Advisor

Amanda Winburn

Relational Format



The ACA Code of Ethics (2014) provides a set of professional values which frequently exceeds law in an effort to ensure that clients are protected. As such, The ACA Code of Ethics (2014) states, “counselors are aware of-and avoid imposing- their own values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors” (section A.4.b). However, legal cases pertaining to conflict between personal values and professional values when counselors fail to bracket personal values has been on the rise within the counseling profession. Counselors have the professional obligation to protect and advocate for clients’ rights through social justice advocacy which can occur at individual, group, institutional and societal levels. The impetus to engage in social justice may arise from a number of circumstances but an individual’s spiritual life may prove to be a motivating factor that encourages individuals to engage in advocacy efforts. Fowler (1981) hypothesized that as individuals mature spiritually, their outlook turns from an inward perspective to an outward perspective which motivates them to promote the welfare of others. However, little is known about the role spiritual maturity plays in promoting advocacy efforts in clinical mental health students. The present study seeks to gain a better understanding of the role of spirituality and how spiritual maturity impacts clinical mental health students’ intentions to engage in social justice advocacy. Results indicate that spiritual maturity does impact the role of clinical mental health students’ intentions to engage in social justice advocacy. Findings revealed that a positive relationship exists between individuals in the growth-oriented category of spiritual maturity and their intent to engage in social justice advocacy whereas, a significant negative correlation exists for individuals in the dogmatic and underdeveloped categories of spiritual maturity. Implications from this study are intended to aid counselor educators as they incorporate multicultural competencies into the classroom and for counselors in training as they identify personal values and begin to take steps to bracket their personal values while upholding professional mandates.

Included in

Education Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.