Students' expressed and actual preferences for counsellors : the effects of sex, race, and type of problem.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The present study was concerned with secondary school students’ expressed and actual preferences for counsellor sex and race. The influence of type of problem on these preferences was also investigated. A sample of 430 fifth form students (including 74 Maori/Polynesian males, 109 Maori/Polynesian females, 90 Pakeha males, and 87 Pakeha females) from six schools, in Auckland and Christchurch, completed the “Choosing a Counsellor” questionnaire. Half the sample were asked to assume they had a vocational problem while the remainder assumed they had a personal problem. Subjects were asked to first indicate how important 33 counsellor traits or characteristics would be to them when choosing a counsellor. “Is the same sex as I am” and “Is the same race as I am” were included in the list of items. Next, they were shown a slide-sound presentation of four school counsellors (one of each sex, one of each race) and asked to rank them in the order in which they would choose to see them. These two parts of the study made it possible to determine whether choice matched stated preference. The questionnaire also requested background information on previous contact with a school counsellor. The study confirmed the original hypotheses about students’ preferences and choices regarding counsellor sex and race. Students did not express preferences for counsellor sex and race, however their actual preferences were clearly otherwise; the majority chose a counsellor of the same sex and race as themselves. The influence of type of problem on these preferences and choices was minimal. These findings were discussed with particular reference to counsellor recruitment and training.