Date of Conferral
Counselor Education and Supervision
Theodore Remley, Jr.
Legislative advocacy efforts are increasingly becoming part of a counselor's professional identity, yet scholarly literature lacks studies about experiences of counseling students involved in legislative advocacy for the counseling profession. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the meaning counseling students ascribe to their involvement in legislative advocacy for the counseling profession. Astin's student involvement theory was the conceptual framework utilized to explore the lived experiences of counseling graduate students and recent graduates who participated in a 4-day long American Counseling Association Institute for Leadership Training on legislative advocacy and leadership or in professional legislative advocacy at the state level. Convenient and snowball sampling yielded 8 participants who engaged in semistructured interviews. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis, the data were analyzed to identify essential themes. Thematic analysis was conducted by hand using literature-based codes and lean coding as well as NVivo software. Themes included awareness, faculty mentor, involvement, incorporating legislative advocacy into the curriculum, lack of confidence, student learning and personal development, legislative culture, motivation, student obstacles to professional legislative advocacy, and problems in working with other professions. Findings may be useful for counselor educators seeking to integrate professional legislative advocacy into the counseling curriculum. Implementing a professional legislative advocacy approach into the counseling curriculum might contribute to counselor students' developing a propensity for leadership, advocacy, and professional legislative advocacy beyond graduation.