Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Glendon Casto


Glendon Casto


Keith Checketts


Sterling Gerber


Statement of the problem
Within each community there exist individuals who, although untrained in the techniques of therapeutic psychology, are able to facilitate positive growth experiences among their acquaintances. Although research concerning the "natural counselor" is sparse, current focus on the potential contributions of lay personnel is a closely related area. The problem, then, with which this study is concerned, is the present lack of knowledge regarding those individuals who may be classified as "natural counselors."

The objective of this study was to assess one aspect of the alternative sources of aid that are available to those individuals who do not utilize professional assistance.

Methods and procedure
Two groups, each consisting of fifteen persons, were utilized in the study. Members of the first group were professional school counselors whereas the second group was selected from a segment of the community of Logan, Utah. The latter group possessed characteristics which led at least five persons in their neighborhood to nominate them as "natural counselors."

The professional counselors tape-recorded a counseling session with a student and the "natural counselors" took part in a role-playing situation with a trained theatre arts student. Both groups held their sessions in an equivalent school setting.

Graduate students trained in the utilization of the Berenson-Carkhuff scales, listened to three segments of each tape-recording and rated it on the scales of empathy, genuineness, and concreteness. Numbers were randomly assigned to each tape in order to prevent rater bias. Having one group involved in a natural setting and the other group in an artificial environment, was viewed as a limitation of the study. Rater accuracy was also limited due to the raters' inability to devote more time to the training program.

Findings of the study
Findings related to each of three hypotheses were presented. None of the F ratios calculated from analysis of variance approached the .05 level of significance, thereby precluding rejection of any of the null hypotheses. Thus statistical analysis confirmed the assumption that no difference existed in the facilitative abilities of a group of professional counselors as compared to a group of untrained persons.

Summary and conclusions
Rater inter-reliability did not approach a level that is usually necessary for adequate interpretation of the results. This was attributed to either inconsistency in the raters, or to homogeneity of the two groups. By accepting the second proposition, a number of pertinent issues were reviewed. At any rate, to the extent that the scales utilized do measure counseling variables, the conclusions of the study supported the notion that a number of untrained persons in a given community would be as effective in aiding others as are professional counselors.

Non-objective data gained from a survey given to the "natural counselors" indicated that this group evidenced equivalent educational levels a s those achieved by their professional counterparts. Additionally, they were local residents for many years and possessed a wealth of diverse experiences, both of which could add to the counselor-client interchange



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