Native American identity development and counseling preferences: A study of Lumbee undergraduates

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Scholl, Mark B. "Native American identity development and counseling preferences: A study of Lumbee undergraduates." Journal of college counseling 9 (2006): 47-59.


This article focuses on college counselor behaviors in working with Native American students. The topic has importance because Native American students have the lowest rate of all ethnic groups of persistence to the second year of undergraduate school. In addition, Native American students have low rates of utilization of campus counseling services. Psychological issues can impede Native American students' adjustment to college. The couselor's actual or anticipated level of cultural responsiveness, especially if the counselor is not Native American, may be a factor in whether Native American students choose to participate in counseling and, if they do, whether they have positive outcomes. One study found that Native Americans are twice as likely to drop out of counseling after a single session. This study employs two models: Helms's model of racial identity development and Berzins's model of client preferences for counselor role. Helms specifies four levels of racial identity development that show increasing levels of maturity: preencounter, dissonance, immersion/resistance, and internalization. Similarly, Berzins's model of client preference for counselor role shows increasing levels of developmental maturity: approval giving, audience giving, advice giving, and relationship giving. Scholl has six hypotheses that propose, in specific ways, that clients at less advanced levels of racial identity development would prefer more simplistic counselor roles, while those at more advanced levels would prefer more complex counselor roles. He also has four models that propose the ways in which these levels would interact. The study involved 121 Lumbee college students ranging in age from 18 to 55. The mean age was 25.72. Seventy-eight percent were females. Students were dispersed from freshman through senior class, and income levels varied as well. Each student completed the following: a student information packet, the People of Color Racial Identity Attitude Scale (Helms, 1994), the Psychotherapy Expectancy Inventory--Revised (Berzins, 1971), and a demographic questionnaire. Twenty-one (17.3%) of the students had previously had experience with a counselor. Eighty-three (69%) reported that they were presently experiencing at least one concern that would warrant counseling--but of these students, only 21% had previously consulted a counselor. The concerns reported by the students included dating and relationships, trouble studying, test anxiety, depression, general anxiety, public speaking anxiety, conflict with a parent, shyness, feelings of inferiority, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, and trouble making friends. Four of Scholl's six hypotheses were not confirmed. Hypotheses Five and Six were both confirmed because Internalization scores predicted a significant amount of the variance in Audience scores (p. 54). Of the four models Scholl put forth, only Model 4 was confirmed: "The set of racial identity development variables collectively explained variance in client preferences for the relationship-giving role" (p. 54). Students expressed most preference for a relationship-giving counselor style; they showed a moderate preference for an advice-giving style. The rates of some of the concerns reported by these Lumbee college students did not correspond to the rates of the concerns among college students in general. Twenty-four percent of Lumbee students reported symptoms of depression, but a 2004 article cited by Scholl reports on a study in which 45% of college students were struggling with depressive symptoms. Five percent of the Lumbee college students said they abused alcohol, but Scholl cites a 2000 study of college students in general that found that 23% frequently engaged in binge drinking. Scholl concludes with seven recommendations for ways to encourage Native American clients' satisfaction with counseling and help them continue in the counseling relationship.

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College students | Counseling | Racial identity development