Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education

Major Professor

Casey A. Barrio Minton

Committee Members

Patrick R. Grzanka, Misunori Misawa, Shawn L. Spurgeon


Social/political or legislative professional advocacy is vital for growth of the counseling profession. However, knowledge regarding social/political professional advocacy is limited by a lack of empirical evidence. The purpose of this constructivist grounded theory study was to explain the process of social/political professional advocacy for counseling leaders. The research question guiding this study was what is the process of social/political professional advocacy for counseling leaders? Constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2014) was used to analyze fifteen semi-structured interviews with professional counselors who engaged in leadership related to social/political professional advocacy. During analysis, four major themes emerged, Connection to Personal and Professional Identity, Use of Personal and Professional Community, Making it your Own, and Picking your Battles. Findings suggested that the legislative professional advocacy process involved three tiers Advocacy Catalyst, Advocacy Action, and Advocacy Training. The Advocacy Catalyst provided connection to the advocacy need. Advocacy Action, involved ways that advocates acted upon advocacy by picking battles and making it their own. Advocacy Training provided participants with support and knowledge to apply to their Advocacy Action. In addition, using an aggregate of the participants’ own perspective and experience, a definition of legislative professional advocacy was proposed. Based on these findings, implications for counselor education programs and professional organizations and recommendations for future research were provided.

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