VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.
Bridging the Research-Practice Gap: Using Applied Inquiries to Promote Client Advocacy
Jason H. King and H. Gray Otis
Counselors practice in a field increasingly driven by accountability and program evaluation (Bishop & Trembley, 1987; Hadley & Mitchell, 1995; Lambert, Bergin, & Garfield, 2003). Because financial resources are limited, legislative authority and managed care organizations are more likely to support and sustain counseling programs grounded in empirical efficacy (King, 2002). Unfortunately, many counselors view research as no more than an academic requirement and fail to appreciate how it adds value to their practice by promoting social activism and client wellness (Heppner & Anderson, 1985; Gale & Austin, 2003; Myers, Sweeney, & White, 2002).
Part of the ethical responsibility of all counselors is an “autonomous critical inquiry” (Feltham 2000, p. 712) into their counseling to determine whether or not it is effective. Scientific inquiry is not only essential to good practice but also vital to distinguishing the counselor as “professional” (Claiborn, 1987; Schmidt, 1998; Spruill & Benshoff, 1996; VanZandt, 1990; Weinrach, Thomas, & Chan, 2001). Because our society is increasingly pluralistic, counselors need specific therapeutic interventions that target precise problems within explicit contexts. The scientific method offers powerful tools in which counselors can reduce cultural biases 260 and objectively examine the effect of their interventions on client outcomes (Heppner & Anderson, 1985).