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Counselor educators are obligated to “provide students with ongoing feedback regarding their performance throughout the training program” (2014 ACA Code of Ethics, F.9. Evaluation, and Remediation). This feedback ensures that counseling graduates demonstrate both knowledge and skill across the curriculum as well as professional dispositions. These are defined as “the commitments, characteristics, values, beliefs, interpersonal functioning, and behaviors that influence the counselor’s professional growth and interactions with clients and colleagues” (2016 CACREP Standards, p. 43). The School of Counseling identifies ten (10) Key Professional Dispositions that students who are most suitable for the profession consistently demonstrate (Bogo et al., 2007): Engagement, Accountability, Relationships, Sensitivity, Impartiality, Discipline, Awareness, Growth, Communication, and Congruence. These key professional dispositions are defined as follows:


1. Engagement: Student punctually attends scheduled meetings, actively contributes in required academic settings, and promotes other students’ learning.

2. Accountability: Student accepts personal contributions to academic, skills, and comportment deficiencies and acts responsibly to enhance professional effectiveness.


3. Relationships: Student professionally interacts with others and effectively navigates interpersonal differences. 4. Sensitivity: Student attends to the feelings, experiences, and perceptions of others and consistently honors their autonomy. 5. Impartiality: Student displays contextual and cultural competency by valuing the fundamental rights, dignity, and worth of all people. This

includes respect for age, culture, disability, ethnicity, race, religion/spirituality, gender, sexual orientation, marital/partnership status, language preference, socioeconomic status, veteran status, immigration status, or any basis proscribed by law or as defined by potential clients’ experience.


6. Discipline: Student exhibits ability to control personal stress, self-disclosure, and excessive emotional reactions that interfere with professional functioning.

7. Awareness: Student manifests alertness of how personal beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviors affect others and uses sound judgment to assess situations properly.

8. Growth: Student exhibits willingness to engage in self-examination, challenge assumptions, and integrate feedback to reach an acceptable level of competency.


9. Communication: Student displays respectful tone and uses open, honest, and accurate statements in dealing with others. 10. Congruence: Student demonstrates the ability to acquire and integrate ethical codes, accreditation standards, and institutional policy into one’s

repertoire of professional behavior in all settings.






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To align with accreditation standards that necessitate “counselor education program faculty systematically assesses each student’s professional dispositions throughout the program” (2016 CACREP Standards, p. 17), the School of Counseling created a Student Development Assessment (SDA) based upon the published counseling-related literature. Student Development is the ongoing process of examining one’s beliefs, attitudes, values, skills, and behaviors with the goal of forming a counseling professional identity that consistently demonstrates the professional dispositions of responsibility, fitness, maturity, and integrity. The SDA serves to assist students in achieving program outcomes and assisting faculty to understand specific disposition or support needs in counseling students’ professional development according to the 2016 CACREP Standards and the 2014 ACA Code of Ethics.

Counselor educators use the following scale on the SDA to formally evaluate a counseling student’s ability to demonstrate the School of Counseling’s Key Professional Dispositions:

0 = ABSENT: the student does not demonstrate the expected competency – remediation is strongly recommended. 1 = INCONSISTENT: the student intermittently demonstrates the expected competency – but this irregularity is within normal student growth and development. 2 = CONSISTENT: the student frequently demonstrates the expected competency – fitness for practice is recommended.

The SDA is administered at four different points in each counseling student’s program of study (POS):

M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling COUN 6316 Techniques of Counseling

COUN 6250 Group Process and Dynamics

Residency 1/Pre- Practicum 1

Residency 2/Pre- Practicum 2

M.S. in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling

COUN 6316 Techniques of Counseling

COUN 6250 Group Process and Dynamics

Residency 1/Pre- Practicum 1

Residency 2/Pre- Practicum 2

M.S. in Addiction Counseling COUN 6316 Techniques of Counseling

COUN 6250 Group Process and Dynamics

Residency 1/Pre- Practicum 1

Residency 2/Pre- Practicum 2

M.S. in School Counseling COUN 6302S-Counseling Techniques in Schools

COUN 6320S Group Counseling and Guidance

in the Schools

Residency 1/Pre- Practicum 1

Residency 2/Pre- Practicum 2

Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision

COUN 8125 Teaching in Counselor Education

CES Residency 2 COUN 8890 Doctoral


CES Residency 3

In addition to these program benchmarks, counseling students are expected to conduct themselves professionally and respectfully at all times, both when interacting with the university community and when representing the university at events outside the institution (see Walden University’s current Student Professional Conduct Policy in the Student Handbook). Accordingly, counselor education faculty may also use a Student Concern Referral (SCR) to formally evaluate a student’s professional dispositions at any time frame during their POS. Masters and doctoral counselor education students are encouraged to read pages 13-30 of Section 3: Expectation of Students in the current Counseling Student Program Guide to learn more about student development procedures.

The table on the next page provides behavioral examples of the School of Counseling’s Key Professional Dispositions and their behavioral skills:




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PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIORS INTERPERSONAL BEHAVIORS INTRAPERSONAL BEHAVIORS 1. Respect the privacy and confidentiality needs of others. 2. Understand and maintain the ethical guidelines for

counselors as published by the University and the profession.

3. Engage actively in learning, training, and experiential processes and opportunities for personal and professional development.

4. Prioritize welfare of clients over self-interests when providing professional services.

5. Remain open to ideas, learning, and change. 6. Fulfill obligations promptly, consistently, reliably, and

according to expectations stated by program faculty, academic leadership, or supervisor.

7. Cooperate with remediation plans and endeavor to adjust or improve behavior.

8. Engage in productive supervision and consultation with colleagues and peers.

9. Maintain sensitivity to role differences and power dynamics that may exist in relationships and settings and manage them appropriately.

10. Follow the procedures and policies of the graduate program.

11. Seek professional consultation about recognized areas of personal growth.

12. Engage effectively as a team member, supporting the efforts of the institution, agency, or work group.

13. Expand professional knowledge related to clinical work and client cases independent of course requirements.

14. Maintain a professional appearance (including hygiene and attire) appropriate for the setting.

15. Support the learning process of others. 16. Use technology appropriately and ethically in all

situations while respecting others who are present or affected.

17. Advocate for the advancement of and excellence in the profession.

1. Respect the autonomy and beliefs of others and refrain from imposing one’s personal beliefs on others.

2. Exhibit sensitivity to the individual and cultural identities of others and display cultural competence by acting respectfully and skillfully in interactions with others.

3. Communicate with academic leadership, faculty, clients, and colleagues respectfully and professionally using appropriate verbal and non-verbal language.

4. Exhibit awareness of and respect for appropriate interpersonal boundaries.

5. Establish and maintain effective and functional relationships personally, professionally, and therapeutically.

6. Demonstrate genuineness, empathy, and interest in the welfare of others.

7. Act with awareness of how personal actions affect others. 8. Display sensitivity to the feelings, thoughts, and needs of

others. 9. Act with professionalism appropriate to the situation or

setting. 10. Support the individual rights and dignity of others. 11. Respond to discomfort and difficult circumstances with

thoughtful consideration for self and others. 12. Maintain awareness of power and privilege dynamics on

various levels. 13. Resolve interpersonal conflicts with superiors and

colleagues in a timely and professional manner. 14. Interact with appropriate assertiveness and emotional

control. 15. Provide helpful, nondefensive feedback to others when

asked or when appropriate. 16. Work cooperatively and collaboratively with others

across multiple settings.

1. Exhibit awareness of personal beliefs, values, needs, strengths, and limitations and understand their potential influence on personal and professional performance.

2. Accept responsibility for actions and problems. 3. Manage personal mental health, emotional problems,

stress, and interpersonal issues effectively. 4. Demonstrate personal and professional integrity in

stated thoughts and actions. 5. Maintain openness to and respect for differences in

ideology. 6. Communicate information truthfully and accurately. 7. Participate in self-reflection and self-exploration. 8. Exhibit maturity and professionalism in reactions and

behaviors. 9. Refrain from allowing the use of behavior- or mind-

altering substances to impede professional functioning. 10. Solicit, consider, and respond thoughtfully to

constructive feedback from others. 11. Manage emotional reactions adeptly and exhibit

emotional self-control. 12. Take responsibility for appropriately fulfilling personal

and emotional needs. 13. Examine personal reactions. 14. Use organized reasoning and good judgment to assess

and respond to situations. 15. Value self as a person of worth and dignity. 16. Manage personal wellness physically, spiritually,

psychologically, and socially. 17. Exhibit behaviors and express thoughts and feelings that

are genuine and congruent with intrapersonal experience.

18. Act consistently and reliably. 19. Manage ambiguity and uncertainty appropriately. 20. Demonstrate flexible, adaptable, and solution-oriented

thinking. 21. Express thoughts and feelings effectively both verbally

and in writing. 22. Participate in personal growth and self-development





See Homrich, A. M., DeLorenzi, L. D., Bloom, Z. D., & Godbee, B. (2014). Making the case for standards of conduct in clinical training, Counselor Education & Supervision, 53(2), 126-144. doi: 10.1002/j.1556-6978.2014.00053.x


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