Distance Counselor Education: Past, Present, Future

William H. Snow, J. Kelly Coker


Distance education has become a mainstay in higher education, in general, and in counselor education, specifically. Although the concept sometimes still feels new, universities have been engaged in some form of distance learning for over 20 years. In the field of distance counselor education, it is imperative to understand where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going. This article will lay the foundation for the special section of The Professional Counselor on distance counselor education and will explore the history of using technology in education, recent research about distance education in counseling and counselor education, and topic areas discussed throughout this special section. This special section will bring clarity to current and emerging best practices in the use of technology in the distance education of professional counselors, clinical supervisors, and counselor educators.


Keywords: online, distance education, counselor education, technology, best practices



Counselor educators have become comfortable and adept over the years at fostering students’ development in clinical skills in traditional residential formats. For many counseling faculty, in-class, face-to-face (F2F), personal encounters are foundational and irreplaceable. For educators with this mindset, distance learning is not an opportunity but a threat to what they consider the best teaching and learning practice (Layne & Hohenshil, 2005). No matter one’s personal preference or belief, the advent of distance learning is challenging the sovereignty of the purely residential experience.


For the purposes of this discussion, we are using the term distance education versus the more prolific term online education. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) has officially adopted the broader term of distance education, which focuses on the physical separation in the teacher–student relationship (OPE, 2012). This is in contrast to the term online education, which emphasizes the internet-facilitated communication that supports the teaching relationship at a distance.


The number of students in distance education programs has been increasing each year (Friedman, 2018). By 2016, over 6 million students in the United States were engaged in distance education, and nearly half were exclusively taking online classes (Seaman et al., 2018). Over two-thirds of the students were enrolled in distance learning courses at public universities (Lederman, 2018). In contrast, the total number of residential students dropped by over 1.1 million (6.4%) between 2012 and 2016 (Seaman et al., 2018). The growth in enrollment and the future of higher education continues to move toward distance education.


The same trends have impacted counselor education. At the time of this writing, the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) reported that there are 69 CACREP-accredited master’s programs that are considered distance education, 34 of which are clinical mental health counseling programs (CACREP, n.d.). Over 25% of counseling students are now enrolled in academic programs defined as distance education (Snow et al., 2018). Because an increasing number of programs are including distance education opportunities, the need for an exploration of efficacious deliveries of distance education content is imperative (Cicco, 2012).


The growth in distance education programs is often based on mixed motivations. One motivation is the desire to provide greater access for traditionally underserved populations (Bennett-Levy et al., 2012). For example, distance education can benefit students in rural areas as well as those living abroad (Sells et al., 2012). Remotely located service providers can benefit as well. Agencies that lack immediate physical access to counselor education programs now have the online tools to train members of their community locally in advanced mental health skills through distance education so they can continue serving their communities while in school. Distance education programs also can better support working adults and caregivers who in theory are within geographic proximity of a campus but are constrained by complex schedules, responsibilities, and mobility-related issues (e.g., disabilities, difficult travel). The ability to engage in academic studies from any location around the globe, within a more flexible scheduling model, is a game-changer (Bennett-Levy et al., 2012). Additionally, adult learners increasingly prefer the autonomy and self-direction found in these distance education formats (Ausburn, 2004).


Distance education programs allow access to a greater pool of qualified, diverse faculty. Qualified counselor educators anywhere in the world with access to a computer and an internet connection are prospective instructors. Most importantly, distance education programs eliminate the constraints of geographic proximity, worsening traffic commutes, and parking concerns. For the distance education program, it is all about access for any faculty member or student in the world (Reicherzer et al., 2009).


A more pragmatic motivation for universities is to view distance education programming as a source of revenue, growth, and efficiency (Jones, 2015). For example, distance education courses eliminate the costs and limitations of brick-and-mortar classrooms. Unfortunately, students may not benefit when universities increase online class sizes and hire less expensive adjuncts to increase the bottom line (Newton, 2018). Some universities might even tack on special technology or distance education fees.


It is our belief that the counseling profession should take the lead in proactively investigating the promise of the distance education experience, including the technologies, pedagogies, and methods. We must determine which best practices create excellent educational experiences for the ultimate benefit of our counseling students and the clients they will serve. This special section of The Professional Counselor is an essential step in that direction.


A History of Learning Technologies and Their Impact on Distance Counselor Education


If we take a step back, we can see that there has been a continual movement toward infusing technology into the general educational process and, more recently, specifically in counseling and counselor education. We have moved from a strictly oral tradition in which vital knowledge and skills were passed on in F2F interactions to a present-day, technologically mediated set of interactions in which teacher and student may never meet in person and where dialogues are reduced to bits and bytes of information transmitted across the internet.


In ancient times, essential knowledge, skills, histories, and traditions were only preserved in the memories of those able to experience events directly or to receive critical information from others. People were living repositories of essential skills of survival, cultural insight, and wisdom. If they failed to pass it on orally or through example, what they knew and embodied was lost forever. It is a surprise to many that Socrates did not pen a single word. His choice of influence was through discussions with his followers and came to be known as the Socratic method. Socratic concepts would have been lost forever, but fortunately, followers such as Plato put them in writing.


The Written Word

Socrates’s ideas on teaching and learning lived through an early technology: the written word. The technological advancement of written language, writing devices, and the availability of parchment and paper as a set of communication tools was revolutionary in furthering information sharing and learning. Scholarship became associated with the ability not only to think critically, but also to read about the thoughts of others and respond in writing to contribute to the public discourse. Written documents were copied and distributed in what was the earliest form of distance education. During the medieval period, the copying of important texts often fell to those within monastic religious life, usually as a compulsory duty. Copying books for six or more hours per day for years was a noted source of drudgery (Greenblatt, 2011), but the printing press removed the need for such anguish.


The Printing Press

The limitation of scribes hand-copying documents meant that access to readable material was for society’s select few. Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in approximately 1438 increased access to print (Szabo, 2015). For the first time in history, the works of scholars, philosophers, and artists could be printed in books and made available to a wider public. With written materials available, the literacy rates in Europe rose from approximately 10% in the 1400s to over 90% by the middle of the 20th century (Roser & Ortiz-Ospina, 2018). The printing press laid the groundwork for innovation in education as well. In the 1720s, the printing press allowed for the first distance education correspondence courses in Boston, representing the “written era” of technology-enhanced education (Drumbauld, 2014). More technologies would eventually revolutionize progress in educational methods.


Sound Recordings and Film

The phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877 as a device to both record and play back sound (Thompson, 2016). It did not replace writing and books but could record and preserve the sounds of music, events, and the words of famous people and other languages. For example, when people could hear what foreign dialects sounded like from the lips of native speakers, language instruction was transformed.


The development of celluloid film recording and motion pictures in 1895 led to newsreels and documentaries in the early 1900s that provided the public with information about current affairs and historical and cultural events. For the first time in history, people could experience significant events in recorded sight and sound versus only reading about them. Moreover, they could now learn by seeing (O’Shea, 2003).


Radio, Television, and the Telephone

Relatedly, the advent of commercial radio broadcasting in the 1920s provided the first live reporting of events (University of Minnesota, n.d.). For example, radio audiences heard powerful first-hand emotions in the reporter’s voice as he watched the Hindenburg disaster unfolding before his eyes. In the 1920s, colleges and universities began to take advantage of this new, powerful medium. For example, Pennsylvania State University was the first university to be granted a broadcast license to begin offering college courses over the radio (Dawson, 2018).


The “radio era” quickly transitioned to the “TV Era” in the late 1960s when televisions were in most homes in the United States. People could both see and hear world events at a distance. Stanford University was one of the first institutions to capitalize on this burgeoning technology for educational purposes. The Stanford Instructional Television Network was started in 1968 and offered instruction for part-time engineering students (LeDesma, 1987).


Radio and television broadcasts were significant innovations. Their drawback from an educational perspective was that they were primarily one-way mediums and the audience was merely a passive recipient of sights and sounds. It was the telephone that provided the masses with the first means to engage in two-way conversations at a distance. For the first time in history, the average person could not just listen at a distance, but also could talk back. An early telephone-based education using this two-way communication medium was offered by the University of Wisconsin in 1965 (Drumbauld, 2014). Computers and the internet would soon become the next revolutionary communications medium.


Computers and the Internet

Computers were useful as standalone information processors, but it was the unifying ability for computers to communicate that set the stage for the next revolution in information dissemination since Gutenberg’s printing press—the internet. The internet is in actuality a shortened version of the term internetworking, which was born in 1969 when the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) successfully sent the first message between computers (Leiner et al., 1997). That was followed by the standardization of the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) to give all researchers a standard computer language in order to talk together on this small but growing assemblage of internetworked computers (Leiner et al., 1997). Technical advances continued to follow, but the fledgling internet was not accessible to the average person. Defense researchers, academics, and early computer buffs with the drive and savvy to understand and write in computer languages like Unix to execute functions like domain name system lookup, file transfer protocol, and simple message transfer protocol dominated the internet (Leiner et al., 1997). The basic networking foundations were developed, but the average person was waiting for the time when the internet would move from the researchers’ lab to broader computing access.


Personal Computing

     For decades, computers were costly in price, massive in size, and difficult to maintain, and required a dedicated, specialized operating staff. This meant computer access was only for select university personnel, government employees, larger businesses, and electronic hobbyists. Access changed with the advent of the Apple II in 1977, the IBM PC in 1981, the Apple Macintosh in 1984, and the Windows operating system in 1990 (Allan, 2001). The era of the personal computer (PC) was born and it soon became a must-have technology and home appliance for an increasing number of individuals in society. Functional, affordable, and easy to operate, computers were now available to the general consumer, opening up a worldwide network of information sharing.


The World Wide Web

     Early PCs were standalone machines, and few connected to the government-dominated internet. In the 1980s, there began a movement for PCs to connect to proprietary, fledgling dial-up modem-driven services like America Online (AOL; Rothman, 2015). These computer connection services allowed dial-up modem access, information sharing, and file uploading and downloading for a monthly subscription (Haigh et al., 2015). Email communications could be sent but only for those on closed, proprietary networks.


Some universities began their own networks or used services like AOL in order to connect faculty, staff, and students. These online services were far more comfortable to use than the more complex internet, which still required a level of technical sophistication. Although these services were accessible, they were somewhat isolated as each service provider had an exclusive dial-up modem for access and an entity unto itself.


In 1990, only 2.6 million people worldwide had access to the fledgling internet (Roser et al., 2020). A significant breakthrough occurred with the development of hypertext language in 1991 and the first integrated web browser, called Mosaic, in 1993 (Hoffman, n.d.). Access to the internet and its wealth of resources suddenly became available with a point and click of a computer mouse. The term World Wide Web accurately described internet connectivity that spanned the world and connected smart devices to include computers, tablets, gaming consoles, and phones. If a device had a central processing unit, it could connect. By 2018, 4.2 billion people, or 55.1% of the world population, had internet access (Internet World Stats, 2019). In response, the number of digital websites grew from 130 in 1993 to over 1.9 billion today (InternetLiveStats.com, n.d.).


The Digital Age


Digitization has created a world library and communication platform where text, audio, and video recordings are available to anyone with a computer, tablet, gaming console, or smartphone connected to the internet. Anything that can be digitized can be stored and transmitted in real time. The internet merely has taken our previous modes of physical and analog forms of communication and moved them into the digital stream. Internet publishing is a simple extension of Gutenberg’s printing press. The local library is now a part of the World Wide Web library. Text messaging is the modern-day telegraph, and cellular phone services have cut out the need for copper wiring. Streaming audio and video are what radio and television were. Cutting edge videoconferencing platforms are the new F2F communication mode. Reality has now become a virtual reality. For the counselor educator, all of the world’s accumulated technological advances and resources can rest in the palm of your hand. All of the technologies have come together to support progress toward what we call the distance learning era.


Distance Education

Even though we tend to think of distance education as a recent development, Pennsylvania State University offered correspondence education to rural farmers using U.S. mail in 1892, over 125 years ago (Dawson, 2018). Correspondence courses were the precursors to the more sophisticated distance education approach offered by the University of Phoenix in 1976. The 1990s brought about the most significant changes regarding online educational delivery, with the University of California-Berkeley offering the first completely online curriculum in 1994, and Western Governor’s University, established in 1997, helping Western states maximize educational resources through distance education (Drumbauld, 2014). Today, the distance education student population has grown to over 6 million students in the United States (Seaman et al., 2018). Counselor education programs have developed along with this national trend. Today, 69 counseling programs are offering CACREP-accredited distance education degrees (CACREP, n.d.).


Web-Facilitated Faculty–Student and Student–Student Interactions

In the early 1990s, Moore and Thompson (1990) and Verduin and Clark (1991) defined the core conditions that distance education should achieve to become as effective as F2F instruction. These conditions were timely instructor feedback to students and regular student-to-student interactions. Almost 30 years later, those conditions have been fulfilled. Secure audio- and videoconferencing platforms, such as Zoom and Adobe Connect, now allow faculty and students to connect F2F in real time, synchronously (Benshoff & Gibbons, 2011).


E-learning platforms, such as Blackboard, Canvas, and Moodle, now provide an integrated solution for faculty to asynchronously post syllabi, assignments, and instructional resources for instant download by students. Students can then respond to faculty questions via threaded discussions, upload papers, and take online assessments. Faculty, in turn, can review student work and provide feedback as fast as they can type.


It is now clear that with the combined power of the PC and facilitated technologies, timely instructor feedback and regular student-to-student interactions are possible. The future is here, and all that remains is for counselor education instructional pedagogy to catch up, as well as keep up, with the technological advances that are driving changes in education.


Clarity of Focus: What Is Distance Counselor Education?

Terms like online education, distance learning, and hybrid program, without a clear understanding of their proper use, are problematic. The determination of an academic program as distance education, online, hybrid, or residential has implications for federal financial aid, regional accreditors, and CACREP. So, what is distance education, how is it linked to advances in educational technology, and how does it relate to counselor education?


In practice, various terms, such as distance learning, online learning, and online education, are used. The OPE (2012) has officially adopted the term distance education and further defines distance education as instructional delivery that uses technology in courses for students separated from their instructor to support “regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor, either synchronously or asynchronously” (p. 5). The technologies referred to by the OPE are generally internet-based and may include the use of email, audioconferencing, videoconferencing, streaming videos, DVDs, and learning management systems.


Januszewski and Molenda (2013) defined educational technology as “the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources” (p. 1). Simply put, educational technology is about the physical tools we use in education and the processes that we implement to intentionally shape the relationship of the tools to the subject matter, teacher, student, and social learning environment. These tools and processes combine to form the educational pedagogy to support learning and the OPE (2012) mandate for “regular and substantive interaction between student and instructor” (p. 5).


The OPE (2012) categorizes programs as distance education if at least 50% or more of their instruction is via distance learning technologies. In contrast, residential programs, as categorized by the OPE, CACREP, and federal financial aid regulations, are allowed to infuse significant distance education elements into their instructional coursework as long as they do not exceed the 49% threshold. As an example, a 60 semester unit (90 quarter units) residential program could still offer 29 semester units (44.5 quarter units) of distance education coursework and technically remain residential by OPE standards.


The Continuum of Residential to Distance Education Programming

At one end of the spectrum are purely residential programs, offering 100% of courses in person. The next step along the spectrum is residential hybrid programs. These are still considered residential in providing the preponderance of courses in residence, but they can contain up to 49% of their credit units online and technically maintain their residential classification. Next along the spectrum are limited residency distance learning programs. These provide 50% or more of courses online but require some level of on-campus participation. A 2018 study by Snow et al. found that 90% of CACREP-accredited distance education programs were considered limited residency. They required students to attend a campus residency at least once and up to four times during their degree program. Finally, at the opposite end of the spectrum is a small but growing number of programs offering entirely distance education formats. These offer 100% of their coursework at a distance with no campus residency requirement.


The Infusion of Distance Education Technology in All Education

It is difficult to imagine any counselor education in 2020 to be technology-free and without some integration of distance education elements into individual class sessions, full courses, or programs. In concept, one could argue that there is a bit of online educator in the majority of faculty members today, whether they realize it or not. Most universities now require faculty, even the most technophobic, to have access to a computer and read and respond to email communications. Critical information is commonly only accessible on institutional web pages. Confidential information, such as student advising information, is often available online via secure portals—no more hard copy student files. Grades are now commonly put online. All of these widely used technologies support students learning at a distance.


The advent of the modern learning management system in the form of web-based platforms, such as Blackboard, Canvas, and Moodle, has added a level of access and interactivity to all programs in the teaching spectrum, from entirely residential to entirely online. Faculty engaged in all formats can use these educational platforms to post text, audio, video, and recorded lectures. Students can view materials, upload their papers, and post responses for review and grading. Discussion groups can interact using asynchronous, threaded discussions within these portals. Embedded grade books keep students informed of their progress at all times. These learning platforms, along with other educational technologies, are now commonly employed in both residential and distance education courses, making the programs look increasingly more similar than different.


Reducing the Distance in Distance Education

Assuming the presence of residential courses with as much technology infused into them as many distance education courses, what is the difference? Both formats require “regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor” (OPE, 2012, p. 5). The key word in distance education is distance. The OPE (2012) refers to distance education where students are physically separated from their instructor. Academic programs are required to support, facilitate, and ultimately ensure that regular and substantive interactions occur between students and instructors. The implicit assumption is that residential faculty in close physical proximity to their students have adequate if not superior amounts of regular and substantive interactions with students and thus greater connection and engagement. But, is that necessarily true?


We suggest that rather than focus on whether a class is considered residential or distance education, the concern should be about the amount of regular and substantive interactions, which decrease the social distance between students and faculty and thus help foster community and quality student engagement. Reducing social distance, a measure of relationship and connection, is a significant factor in promoting student engagement. The Great Schools Partnership (2016) defined student engagement as “the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education” (para. 1). There is ample evidence that students who feel a sense of community and connection, no matter what the delivery model, demonstrate better academic performance and higher levels of satisfaction and retention (Benshoff & Gibbons, 2011; Chapman et al., 2011; Rovai & Wighting, 2005). The decreased social distance between faculty and students is a good indicator of “regular and substantive interactions” and thus greater student engagement in the learning process. The physical proximity of faculty and students within residential learning programs can certainly provide opportunities for direct interaction and decreased social distance, but without appropriate faculty desire to connect and engaging pedagogy, there is no guarantee. Numerous studies involving residential programs document cases of student disconnect, alienation, and reduced graduation rates on college campuses (e.g., Feldman et al., 2016; O’Keefe, 2013; Redden, 2002; Rovai & Wighting, 2005; Tinto, 1997). Helping students feel connected to their faculty, fellow students, and campuses is an important task for those operating in both residential and distance learning arenas. Distance education faculty using the appropriate technological tools and pedagogy can overcome the obstacles of physical separation and facilitate meaningful, regular, and substantive interactions.


As we reflect on our educational careers, the authors remember auditorium-style classes in large lecture halls. The physical distance to the instructor might have been 50 feet, but it might as well have been 50 miles as it was difficult to connect with an instructor when competing with 99 other students for attention. Conversely, we have experienced an online class where faculty and students were geographically scattered, but small class sizes allowed us all to make stronger connections. We have come to believe that online education done right can take the distance out of distance education.


The ability of students and faculty to connect at a distance is ever increasing. What was once almost purely an asynchronous model of instruction (i.e., threaded discussion posts and emailed assignments) now has evolved with the addition of interactive videos and training modules, recorded lectures, “real-time” synchronous classes, and live videoconferencing for classroom experiences, advising, and clinical supervision. These tools are allowing students to watch expert counseling role models demonstrate and practice clinical skills themselves while getting real-time feedback from instructors and fellow students. For many counselor education programs, distance education and online learning experiences are now better characterized as virtual remote classrooms.


The Special Section: Distance Counselor Education


This special section reviews the historical context of distance education, seeks to understand the critical elements and best practices for effective distance education, and makes modest projections about future trends. Six additional articles can be found in this issue that provide greater focus on the following areas of consideration: (a) student selection, development, and retention; (b) challenges and solutions of clinical training in the distance environment; (c) distance education pedagogy similarities and differences compared to residential instruction; (d) legal and ethical considerations for distance counselor education; (e) opportunities and challenges of multicultural and international distance education; and (f) student perceptions and experiences in distance education.


Student Selection, Development, and Retention: Who Can Best Succeed?

There are several measures of student success, including retention, academic performance, and graduation rates. Researchers have examined the success of students enrolled in online programs or classes to better understand those factors that lead to or impede student success. Sorenson and Donovan (2017) sought to explore why undergraduate students at an online, for-profit university were dropping out. The authors determined that attrition could be attributed to several factors, including a perceived lack of support by the university and faculty, difficulty balancing multiple priorities, a lack of awareness of how much time is required, and academic issues (Sorenson & Donovan, 2017).


How do we determine the best “fit” through our student selection process? A student’s undergraduate college grade point average does seem to serve as a significant predictor of success in graduate distance learning programs (Cochran et al., 2014). Graduate Record Exam scores, previous work experience, and application essays also are commonly used to select students, but Overholt (2017) did not find them useful in predicting student success among non-traditional graduate student populations. Gering et al. (2018) determined that more salient factors for predicting success included initiative, the ability to take responsibility for one’s education, and time management. Yukselturk and Bulut (2007) have described these factors as representing self-regulated learners.


Gering et al. (2018) also found some external student success factors to be crucial, including a supportive family, strong social connections with other students, strong teaching presence, and receiving prompt and regular feedback and guidance. It is clear then that student success in distance learning courses is partially dependent upon student attributes but also on their level of external support, the actions of the instructor, and a supportive institution.


Clinical Training in the Virtual Remote Environment: What Are the Challenges and Solutions?

It is one thing to offer didactic learning at a distance but quite another when we think about how to conduct engaging clinical skills development in the distance education environment. How do we support the development of appropriate knowledge, skills, and dispositions to help counseling students succeed? The virtual remote classroom allows students to observe faculty experts and student volunteers engaged in clinical role-play simulations. Students can team up with other students in virtual breakout rooms to practice skills they have just watched remotely. Videoconference tools with embedded recording features can capture verbal and non-verbal interactions. Faculty can subsequently observe student role plays live or via recorded sessions.


According to Reicherzer et al. (2012), online and hybrid counselor training programs using a blend of asynchronous, synchronous, and in-person training can produce counselors capable of meeting site supervisors’ expectations of clinical skill preparation before entering practicum and internship. Other researchers found that student learning outcomes are higher for hybrid or blended programs than for fully online or fully residential programs (Means et al., 2010).


Graduates of such programs have an advantage over residential students in their experience with the technologies required for implementing telemedicine and online counseling in their practices—a necessary competency for future practice in the 21st century. With their background in distance learning, these students will have firsthand knowledge of what it takes to properly implement online tools for facilitating strong therapeutic connections. Their remote experiences will provide valuable insights to mental health agency leaders who eventually need to integrate telemedicine into their work to keep pace with future trends and demands (Zimmerman & Magnavita, 2018). This will set these students apart from other clinicians graduating today who lack the training outcomes to participate competently with the proper ethical safeguards in the online world (Barnett, 2018).


Virtual Remote Educational Pedagogy: Similar or Different From Residential Instruction?

In education, the preferred relationship of balancing course content, pedagogy, and technology will vary by institution and instructor. One example is the philosophy of José Bowen (2012). He prefers the live classroom experience, creating more value within the live classroom experience and using technology outside the classroom (Bowen, 2012). He is not against technology, but he believes it is best used outside the classroom to free up more time for richer in-class dialogue. Other programs may adopt a model with more reliance on technology for primary content delivery with the instructor taking a backseat to the online delivery systems. In the context of online and technology-enhanced counselor education, how do those of us who work and teach virtually maximize the available technology to create a vibrant, interactive experience? Can we leverage technological tools to provide the resources needed for success while still creating an impactful and compelling experience? What is the appropriate balance?


In a study of online courses with demonstrated effectiveness, Koehler et al. (2004) determined that three components must dynamically constrain and interact with each other: content, pedagogy, and technology. Faculty must demonstrate expertise in their subject matter, skill teaching in an online environment, and an understanding of as well as effectiveness in utilizing technology in dynamic ways. If all three are present in a course, students report having a better learning experience.


Total distance learning, blended learning, and fully residential learning approaches share another common success—the importance of a positive, supportive learning community. In a study by Murdock and Williams (2011), distance learning students who felt connected and a part of the university community reported more satisfying learning experiences. At least in these cases, successful connection was more important than any particular teaching pedagogy or technology.


Legal and Ethical Considerations in Online Delivery

Online educators are subject to the same statutory and regulatory compliance concerns as their residential counterparts. Online educators have additional complications, challenges, and risks because of their reliance on web-based technologies and online communication. Security, privacy, and access are some of the considerations faced by educators teaching at a distance.


Cybersecurity is now an overarching concern in higher education (White, 2015). Most, if not all, of the student’s personal information, academic record, and submitted course materials are stored in computer files in cloud-based storage. Increasingly, physical student records do not exist as backups. We are moving toward total dependence on reliable, secure access to internet-based storage and retrieval solutions. Distance educators face a level of risk each time student and institutional information is stored, accessed, and shared across cyberspace. There are plenty of bad actors in society focused on disrupting and exploiting these kinds of private information.


The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (U.S. Department of Education, 2018) requires the protection of the student’s personally identifiable information and education records from unauthorized disclosure. Protection requirements apply to the institution in general; educational service providers providing outsourced services; and every administrator, staff member, and faculty member with access to student records. Although cybersecurity is an important security component, there are other simple, practical questions for the individual educator to ponder. For example, when involved in asynchronous communications via email, how do you know it is the actual student? When a distance learning faculty member gets a phone call from an online student they do not know well, how do they verify identity? In 2007, a residential student impostor lived on Stanford’s campus for 6 months, ate in the cafeteria, and lived the campus experience until finally caught (Novinson, 2007). If it can happen in a residential setting where we interact with students directly, it can surely happen in an online environment.


Compliance regulations for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) govern the security of communications that clinical site supervisors, clinicians in training, and faculty supervisors maintain about client cases (HIPAA, 2015). Clinical faculty conducting individual, triadic, or group supervision via telecommunication must verify that technologies meet HIPAA compliance. There also is the requirement that student clinicians must not be discussing confidential issues within earshot of friends, families, and roommates—and not doing so via the local coffee shop’s wireless hotspot.


Online education provides access to students at a distance, and in many respects, it provides access and opportunities for those who previously had few options to extend their learning. Online courses may not prove accessible to people with disabilities as the reliance on embedded web technologies may present challenges (Edmonds, 2004). The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires educational institutions to make their physical campuses accessible to people with disabilities and the virtual campuses as well. The ADA government website provides guidelines of what is required to make web-based information accessible to those with various disabilities (United States Department of Justice, n.d.).


Issues of student sexual harassment can occur, necessitating Title IX investigations and interventions (Office for Civil Rights, 2018). University administrators must learn how to handle these and other related issues at a distance with students who may be physically separated.


     Online educators must comply with federal statutes and regulations, those in their institution’s home state, and those in the state in which the student resides. State-by-state approval is possible but cumbersome. There are initiatives, such as the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, to establish a state-level reciprocity process (National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, n.d.).


Multicultural and International Distance Education: What Are the Opportunities and Challenges?

Another important consideration is how well distance counseling programs effectively attract, retain, and support students from diverse backgrounds. Since its rise in availability, distance education has been a strong draw for people from diverse backgrounds, particularly women of color (Columbaro, 2009). Walden University, one of the largest online universities in the country, reported in 2015 that of its almost 42,000 graduate students, 76.7% were women and 38.7% were African American (Walden University’s Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, 2015).


In addition to the strong representation of students of color in online education, there is a growing number of international students who also are taking advantage of opportunities to learn at a distance (Kung, 2017). Kung (2017) reported data from the Institute of International Education that showed a 7.1% increase in the number of international students studying in U.S. colleges and universities. Distance learning can accelerate this increase as online students do not require an F-1 visa to participate at a distance. With this rise, Kung calls for an increase in cultural awareness, sensitivity, and preparation for working with international students in online settings.


Counselor Education at a Distance: Student Perspectives

Given the rise in the number of distance counselor education programs, it seems that there would be a wealth of literature to help us understand the real experiences of students training to be professional counselors in online formats. Although there have been studies examining general student perceptions of engagement, social presence, and outcomes in online learning environments (Bolinger & Halupa, 2018; Lowenthal & Dunlap, 2018; Murdock & Williams, 2011), specific experiences of online counseling students across the wide variety of delivery methods has not, to these authors’ knowledge, been conducted. As technology improves and options for learning management, videoconferencing, and student assessment platforms increase, programs training counselors at a distance have a widening variety of ways in which this learning can occur.


Asynchronous, synchronous, blended, hybrid, and fully online are just a few modalities that counseling students use to experience their education. A glimpse into the experiences of students will shed light on how our most important players in this ever-changing game of distance counselor education view the efficacy of their respective training, now and in the future.


The Future of Distance Counselor Education


As we examine emerging technologies and near-future possibilities, it can seem like science fiction. The use of avatars and other simulation and gaming technologies in counselor training, for example, have been examined for potential substitutions for counseling practice with peers and real people. Walker (2009) studied the use of avatars in one virtual platform, Second Life, for skills training among master’s-level counseling students. Counseling students’ attitudes regarding the effectiveness of this medium to enhance skills development were measured, and findings suggested that this technological enhancement was efficacious to student learning, engagement, and overall skill development.


Virtual reality (VR) is already used in counseling and is being explored as a way to create environments that can help address trauma and phobias and enhance mindfulness training and techniques. Riva and Vincelli (2001) contend that the use of VR in clinical settings can serve as a “sheltered setting” (p. 52) where clients can explore distress-producing stimuli in a safe and controlled environment.


What potential does this technology have in the training of the next counselors? Might we have “virtual” clients that counselors interact with, in real time, in a VR environment? Buttitta et al. (2018) of California State University, Northridge’s counselor education program are already doing so in training their counseling students. They recently presented initial findings at the 2018 Western Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (WACES) Conference where they demonstrated how they could change the avatar’s voice and physical look to become a person of any age, gender, or ethnicity. Their initial impressions are that student learning is as good with avatars as with role-playing students.


We see this idea tested in training programs in other fields. Plessas (2017) conducted a study of the effectiveness of using VR “phantom heads” for dental students to practice their skills on. Findings suggested that along with concurrent, augmented feedback from supervisors, this training method creates a level of efficiency and safety. Additional platforms for virtual counseling are being developed, necessitating enhanced training of counselors who are equipped to work with new technologies and environments.




As counselor training programs become more technologically savvy, different models and methods of online pedagogy are available to them. What once was almost purely an asynchronous model of instruction (i.e., discussion posts and assignments in a learning management system like Blackboard or Canvas) now has the ability to add interactive videos and training modules, recorded lectures and discussions, and “real-time” synchronous classes and supervision groups using platforms such as Zoom, Skype, or GoToMeeting. The opportunity–capability gap between distance education and residential classrooms is shrinking. According to Cicco (2011), there is greater efficacy of training when online learning includes opportunities for counseling modeling by experts using videos and podcasts as well as opportunities for students to engage in the practice and demonstration of clinical skills. Today’s distance education classroom can do all that and more.


Students in online core counseling skills courses have reported higher self-efficacy (using the Counseling Self-Estimate Inventory) than their counterparts in traditional F2F classrooms (Watson, 2012). Repeated studies draw similar conclusions regarding gains in self-efficacy using online instruction (Smith et al., 2015). Higher levels of internal motivation, student confidence, and self-efficacy are due in part to the structure of online courses and the requirement for students to engage in independent, autonomous learning exercises (Wadsworth et al., 2007).


The evidence we have examined leads us to the conclusion that not only is online and distance education here to stay, but there also are excellent reasons and justifications for its current use and future expansion. We trust that this special section will help to shed light on those aspects of distance counselor education programs proven effective and provide information to the benefit of all counselor training programs—no matter what delivery methods are utilized.


Conflict of Interest and Funding Disclosure

The authors reported no conflict of interest
or funding contributions for the development
of this manuscript.




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William H. Snow, PhD, is an associate professor at Palo Alto University. J. Kelly Coker, PhD, NCC, LPC, is an associate professor at Palo Alto University. Correspondence can be addressed to William Snow, 1791 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304, wsnow@paloaltou.edu.

Development of Community-Based Participatory Research Competencies: A Delphi Study Identifying Best Practices in the Collaborative Process

Tahani Dari, John M. Laux, Yanhong Liu, Jennifer Reynolds


A gap exists in the counseling profession between research and practice. Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is one approach that could reduce this gap. The CBPR framework can serve as an additional tool for translating research findings into practical interventions for communities and counseling practitioners. Stronger community partnerships between researchers and practitioners will further improve treatment for our clients. The purpose of this study was to develop competencies that would provide the foundations for a training guideline in CBPR. Using the Delphi method, an expert panel achieved consensus on 153 competencies (knowledge, skills, attitudes, activities). Competencies are significant for the profession because they establish best practice, guidelines of service, and professional training.

Keywords: community-based participatory research, research competencies, Delphi method, community partnerships, best practices


The counseling profession has a gap between research and practice (Guiffrida, Douthit, Lynch, & Mackie, 2011; Murray, 2009; Peterson, Hall, & Buser, 2016; Wester & Borders, 2014). Thirty percent of counseling practitioners fail to use academic counseling research findings in their clinical practice (Wester & Borders, 2014). Erford et al. (2011) conducted an 8-year analysis of the Journal of Counseling & Development (JCD) author affiliation and found that the number of articles published in the JCD by non-academically affiliated authors (e.g., in private practice, K–12 schools) declined from 10% in 2002 to 5% in 2008. This decline is even more precipitous considering that 31% of the JCD’s publications between 1978 and 1993 were contributed by non-academic authors (Weinrach, Lustig, Chan & Thomas, 1998). Erford et al. suggested that this drop may be caused by a decline in collaboration between scientists and practitioners or counselors. Woolf (2008) and Wester and Borders (2014) suggested that counselors are apathetic about research because they are unprepared to translate research findings into clinical practice. Further, according to Guiffrida et al. (2011), practitioners may view research to be irrelevant to their work and their clients’ needs. Peterson et al. (2016) indicated the gap may possibly exist between the research skills highlighted in counselor education and those applied in the field. Finally, Murray (2009) noted that researchers and counselors are disconnected from one another; therefore, research findings are not clearly and quickly disseminated to field-based counselors. Although the specific reasons for the researcher–practitioner disconnection vary among authors, there is a compelling need for counseling researchers and practitioners to work toward a common goal benefiting clients.

This gap comprises a problem for the profession because research should inform counselors’ clinical interventions and supervisors’ decisions (Lilienfeld, Ammirati, & David, 2012). When they do not, the gap between academic counseling researchers and counseling practitioners puts client well-being at risk. To provide the best outcomes for clients, counseling practitioners must be aware of and make use of current evidence-based treatments identified through academic research. Likewise, counseling researchers who fail to consider the clinical zeitgeist may promulgate lines of inquiry that are difficult to translate into clinical application. One way to minimize this gap is through stronger collaborations between academic counseling researchers and counseling practitioners who already serve clients in their communities. One rationale the authors offer is that although there might be a desire to collaborate, there are currently no agreed upon standards to establish parameters of those collaborations, making setting up partnerships more challenging for counseling researchers. Efforts to incorporate community-based participatory research (CBPR) approaches could further enhance treatment for clients by strengthening researcher–practitioner partnerships (Horowitz, Robinson, & Seifer, 2009).


Community-Based Participatory Research

CBPR (Israel, Eng, Schulz, & Parker, 2013) fosters partnerships between researchers, institutions, and communities (Lachance, Quinn, & Kowalski-Dobson, 2018; Poleshuck et al., 2018; Woods-Jaeger et al., 2018). CBPR is employed in conjunction with quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods (Minkler & Wallerstein, 2008); serves as an additional tool for translating research findings into applicable clinical practice (Lightfoot, McCleary, & Lum, 2014; Minkler & Wallerstein, 2008); and improves communication between researchers and practitioners (Poleshuck et al., 2018).

CBPR rests on nine key principles that focus on the concept of cultural humility (Israel et al., 2013). Israel, Schulz, Parker, and Becker (1998) identified the first eight, which include the following principles:

(1) recognizes the community as a unit of identity; (2) builds on strengths and resources within the community; (3) facilitates collaborative partnerships in all phases of the research;
(4) integrates knowledge and action for mutual benefit of all partners; (5) promotes a co-learning and empowering process that attends to social inequalities; (6) involves a cyclical and iterative process; (7) addresses health from both positive and ecological perspectives; and
(8) disseminates findings and knowledge gained to all partners.” (pp. 178–180)

Minkler and Wallerstein (2008) added an important ninth CBPR principle: “(9) requires a long-term process and commitment to sustainability” (p. 11). Each of these principles relies on the researcher’s dedication to the tenet of cultural humility, which is critical to building improved relationships between researchers and communities founded upon increased trust, respect, and accountability.

Hook, Davis, Owen, Worthington, and Utsey (2013) defined cultural humility as appreciating one’s limitation with respect to what can be understood about another culture. It also is described as genuine concern for others, an absence of the power and dominance dynamic, a willingness to continue learning, an understanding of our own biases, and a dedication to self-reflection. Researchers who apply cultural humility tend to develop greater levels of trust, respect, and accountability within their communities, particularly with hard-to-reach communities. For example, Mannix, Austin, Baayd, and Simonsen (2018) utilized the principles of CBPR in their work with a Native American tribe and found that cultural training was the initial step toward community integration among researchers and the formation of equalizing partnerships. Sharing in one’s role as the expert and valuing co-learning helps to reframe the community as equal partners within the collaborative research process. Nonetheless, Collins et al. (2018) advocated that the CBPR approach can be employed in collaboration with diverse types of communities, involving, for example, police officers, health care workers, and business management.

CBPR’s benefits are well documented across disciplines (e.g., Collins et al., 2018; Green, 2007; Lightfoot et al., 2014; Lindamer et al., 2008; O’Brien et al., 2018; Yuan et al., 2016). These benefits include researchers’ ability to utilize research outcomes to advocate for clients (Gray & Price, 2014; Horowitz et al., 2009; McElfish et al., 2015), advance health disciplines (O’Fallon & Dearry, 2002; Israel et al., 2013), increase participant contributions (Case et al., 2014; Wagstaff, Graham, Farrell, Larkin, & Tatham, 2018), address multifaceted client issues (Corrigan, Pickett, Kraus, Burks, & Schmidt, 2015), improve mental health services (Case et al., 2014), and foster interprofessional relationships (Hergenrather, Geishecker, Clark, & Rhodes, 2013). Despite CBPR’s acceptance as a research tool and demonstrated benefits for increasing the effectiveness of researcher–practitioner communication, the counseling literature lacks counseling research specific to CBPR competency training guidelines.

The purpose of this study was to address this paucity by developing CBPR competency training guidelines. Consistent with the profession’s approach to competency development commonly seen in the profession (e.g., Ratts, Singh, Nassar-McMillan, Butler, & McCullough, 2016), the authors organized CBPR competencies into the following areas: knowledge, skills, attitudes, and activities. The development of CBPR competencies sets the stage for counseling research to become more understandable, accessible, and applicable to counselors and their communities, thus diminishing the gap between research and practice. Competencies are significant for the profession because they establish best practice, guidelines of service, and professional trainings (Toporek, Lewis, & Crethar, 2009).



The authors employed the Delphi method to identify CBPR throughout the study. The Delphi method is an empirical approach that elicits expert opinion on research results and validation of content (Garson, 2013; Jorm, 2015; Ross, Kelly, & Jorm, 2014). It is an iterative process that progresses through consecutive survey rounds. This approach provides a reliable method for gathering structured expert insight to improve professional training and typically includes a minimum of two rounds (Garson, 2013). Experts’ responses are blinded to one another. Rigor and validity of the Delphi method relies on the knowledge and experience of an expert panel (Garson, 2013). There is no set number of experts that should serve on a Delphi panel, but researchers agree that a minimum of eight to 12 experts is sufficient and appropriate for Delphi studies (Novakowski & Wellar, 2008). The authors decided upon the Delphi method because we see it as the best model for identifying additional content not reflected in the current counseling literature for use in the development of a training guideline for counselors.

An online survey platform was used to collect data. Online survey tools can provide an effective means of conducting Delphi studies (Ross et al., 2014; Weise, Fisher, & Trollor, 2016). Online data collection techniques are economical for researchers and convenient for participants, especially when experts live apart geographically. These techniques provide anonymity and facilitate the equal inclusion of expert feedback where group dynamics might preclude such participation in a face-to-face setting (Garson, 2013).


Expert Panel Formation

According to Mead and Moseley (2001), establishing expertise, and by extension experts, is a context-based process that depends on a number of criteria, which may include their position, recognition by a stakeholder community, or established specialization. The prospective panel of experts was initially identified using a review of publication records (Garson, 2013), and augmented with the recommendations. The authors required that participant experts demonstrate both knowledge of and experience with carrying out CBPR. Twenty prospective expert participants were identified and recruited with an email that explained the nature of the study and contained a link to the Delphi study. CBPR is rarely found in the counseling literature; therefore, the authors also relied upon snowball sampling to recruit CBPR expert counselor educators (Jorm, 2015). Finally, the authors extended the invitation to participate to public health professionals with evidenced CBPR expertise, identifying them through a review of public health literature, where the CBPR framework originated and is now well established (Lightfoot et al., 2014; Minkler & Wallerstein, 2008). Moreover, counselors and public health professionals are similarly committed to advancing wellness among the communities they serve (Kaplan & Gladding, 2011). Of those 20 invited experts, 17 (85%) met the study’s inclusion criteria, which centered on relevant publications and knowledge of or professional experience with CBPR. Three (15%) indicated they were not qualified to participate. Another three declined to participate. The 14 remaining experts completed all facets of the Delphi study. Nine participants (64.3%) were identified through their publication records. The final five (35.7%) came from peers’ recommendations.

Eleven experts (78.6%) reported experience with CBPR in a university setting, eight (57.1%) in a non-profit organization, four (28.6%) in an agency setting, four (28.6%) in a health system (e.g., hospital, clinic), four (28.6%) in a K–12 school setting, one (7.1%) in a community-wide setting, and one (7.1%) in international projects. One expert (7.1%) did not identify a work setting. Five (35.7%) experts reported having more than 10 years of experience conducting CBPR research, including four with 18–21 years and one with 11 years of experience. Three (21.4%) stated that they had 4–5 years of experience, and another four (28.6%) reported 2–4 years of experience. One (7.1%) expert did not respond to the question. Thirteen experts (92.9%) listed their highest educational level as a PhD, and one expert (7.1%) indicated the highest degree was a master’s degree. Participants’ ages ranged from 30 to over 60 years. Four experts (28.6%) reported their age to be 30–39, two (14.3%) 40–49, seven (50%) 50–59, and one (7.1%) over 60. When asked to report their racial affiliation, 10 (71.4%) identified as European American, one (7.1%) as Hispanic, one (7.1%) as Asian/Pacific Islander, and two (14.3%) selected Other/Mixed. Finally, 10 identified as female (71.4%) and four identified as male (28.6%).



Stage 1: Preparing items for the questionnaire. The authors conducted a literature review to compile content statements (Sivell, Lidstone, Taubert, Thompson, & Nelson, 2015) about the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and activities (competency domains) commonly used in CBPR. These content statements were used to create an online questionnaire for the Delphi study’s first round (Ross et al., 2014; Sivell et al., 2015; Weise et al., 2016).

Stage 2: Administer Round 1. The authors sent an email to the identified experts with a URL link to the study (Sivell et al., 2015). Experts then used a 5-point Likert scale response range to assess participants’ degree of agreement with each CBPR competency statement (Sivell et al., 2015; Vázquez-Ramos, Leahy, & Hernández, 2007). Additionally, experts provided their own answers to four open-ended survey questions that reflected the coding frame (i.e., competency domains) used in this study. Additional questions included: (1) What knowledge is required for counseling researchers to effectively carry out community-based participatory research? (2) What skills are considered essential for counseling researchers to carry out community-based participatory research? (3) What attitudes are essential for counseling researchers to develop community-based participatory research? and (4) What activities are necessary for counseling researchers to experience when engaging in community-based participatory research?

Stage 3: Prepare and administer Round 2. Next, the authors employed the qualitative content analysis software program, NVivo, to analyze the 161 statements that participants contributed. Statements about which the experts did not agree were removed. Round 2’s statements (n = 112) were solely those that were contributed to the open-ended questions posed to the experts in Round 1. The experts evaluated the revised questionnaire in the same manner as in Round 1.

Stage 4: Finalize competencies. The authors compiled the final list of competencies based on expert consensus. In accordance with other Delphi study practices (Keeney, Hasson, & McKenna, 2011; Weise et al., 2016), consensus was achieved when at least 70% of the experts either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement and the statement’s median score was 2.5 or lower. The authors chose to further strengthen consensus results by ensuring that a given statement also achieved an interquartile range (IQR) of less than or equal to 1 (Wester & Borders, 2014). Following Ross et al.’s (2014) suggestion, we sent a follow-up email with a final draft of the competencies to each participant. The email contained each of the final 153 statements (Appendix). The authors asked the participants to offer their final remarks about the statements and requested that they respond within a week and received no modifications.


Data Analysis

Descriptive quantitative analysis. The review of the Delphi process started upon the experts’ completion of Round 1 and was completed following Round 2. One part of the analysis involved quantitative feedback. SPSS was used to measure expert consensus. The data included frequency outputs on the percentage of overall responses to each statement, median, and IQR. According to Dalkey and Helmer (1963), the median response for each statement is a central statistic involved in Delphi processes. IQR is a measure of variability that is less susceptible to outliers than the range. IQR allowed the authors to further increase objectivity and rigor in the validating process to determine final expert statements (Wester & Borders, 2014). IQR also allowed researchers to assess the variability in responses. An IQR of less than or equal to 1 on a 5-point Likert scale indicates a low variability in responses, whereas a score greater than 1 signifies a higher range of variability.

Content analysis. Participants’ contributed statements were used to enhance the level of expert consensus with the follow-up questionnaire. The researchers conducted a qualitative content analysis (QCA) for these contributions (Weise et al., 2016). The QCA clearly and systematically categorized statements within the range of the study’s nine CBPR principles. Using NVivo, the authors coded the experts’ statements using the domains of the theoretical coding framework (Schreier, 2012): knowledge, attitudes, skills, and activities. The authors then assigned each of the frame-coded statements to one of the nine CBPR principles.



The results from Round 1 and Round 2 are presented in the Appendix. A total of 64 statements were omitted between Rounds 1 and 2 because they either did not reach consensus (meeting all three criteria) or represented a repeated item. Of the final 153 competencies, 49 relate to the knowledge domain, 43 relate to the attitudes domain, 31 relate to the skills domain, and 25 relate to the activities domain. These statements were further subcategorized according to the nine CBPR principles (P1–P9) or themes that emerged from the content analysis: 15 statements were related to P1, 12 statements were related to P2, 25 statements were related to P3, 28 statements were related to P4, 18 statements were related to P5, 12 statements were related to P6 and P7, seven statements were related to P8, and 14 statements were related to P9.

Certain statements did not fit within the nine CBPR principles. Additionally, there were statements that seemed to fit within multiple categories. Some themes that the authors did not expect emerged from the open-ended responses. These included seven statements related to core traits and three statements related to mentoring, which are also presented in the Appendix. The following discussion will further describe the results.



The aim of the study was to develop competencies that emphasize knowledge, skills, attitudes, and activities that would provide the foundations for a training guideline in CBPR for the counseling profession. A growing number of counseling researchers highlight researcher and community collaboration (Bryan, 2009; Guiffrida et al., 2011; Wester & Borders, 2014); however, comprehensive training guidelines that outline the competencies required to foster such partnerships do not exist in the counseling literature. We argue that by providing access to this emerging approach to building researcher–community partnerships within the community (particularly practitioners), the clients/communities’ well-being will be enhanced. CBPR emerged in recent years as the most promising researcher–community approach to research (Lawson, Caringi, Pyles, Jurkowski, & Bozlak, 2015; Lightfoot et al., 2014). The CBPR competencies identified through this study could provide further guidance to researchers for building these relationships in the community. Researchers that advocate for researcher–practitioner partnerships emphasize their potential for advancing treatment for clients (Teachman et al., 2012). These partnerships improve communication and allow research findings to be translated into more practical interventions. We anticipate that by offering a standardized approach for a training guide to fostering researcher–community partnerships, future counseling researchers will receive more consistent and effective training in CBPR practices.


CBPR Competencies

Consistent with previous literature, all 14 experts agreed that CBPR is about relationships and relationship building. They further allowed that a CBPR framework fosters conversations between partners within the community. The experts also endorsed CBPR as a complementary, not competing, approach to research. Although the results of this study confirm the necessary knowledge components of the CBPR framework, they move beyond making the argument that CBPR is a necessary practice, demonstrating how researchers might effectively implement such practices. Thus, we offer key insights from the remaining categories understood as necessary for competency in a given practice (Toporek et al., 2009) with the aim of identifying best practices and means of implementation for community partnerships. Competency in this framework will enhance methodological choices made by researchers and their partner communities. The following section highlights statements categorized by domain with high expert consensus (100% of the expert panel indicated they either strongly agree or agree).

Knowledge. All experts agreed that the knowledge required for counseling researchers to effectively carry out CBPR includes understanding that the term “CBPR Researchers” applies to both academic and community partners (extended to counseling practitioners). Experts also agreed that academic CBPR researchers need to know or be willing to learn about the community’s issues, concerns, and strengths. When researchers include community partners in the research process, it helps to develop trust and respect between these two groups and potentially leads to a deeper interpretation of the findings. Likewise, experts acknowledged the importance of inviting community partners to participate in dissemination of research findings. Finally, CBPR can be effective in bringing community partners together to determine priorities.

Skills. The experts agreed that practicing CBPR requires effective and reflective listening skills, group facilitation skills, and the ability to create strong partnerships (e.g., negotiating, collaborating, networking, liaising). Researchers should practice cultural humility and be willing to work across the varying needs of communities with different cultures and identities. Therefore, researchers can help community partners recognize the strengths and resources already embedded in the current structure of their own communities. Finally, the experts agreed that CBPR researchers should communicate findings in ways that make skillful use of technology and are concise, clear, and appropriate so that the community may participate in the interpretation of results.

Attitudes. The experts identified cultural humility, flexibility, and persistence as essential CBPR attitudes. This required that researchers share power—for example, implementing shared decision-making in their projects with their community partners. It is imperative that researchers recognize that every community has its own unique strengths. Likewise, CBPR researchers make a commitment to collaboration by sharing expertise, being accountable, and giving credit to their community partners for their contributions to knowledge production. This entails researchers valuing power sharing with their community partners, including shared decision-making in their projects, while still upholding scientific rigor. Moving beyond shared decision-making, CBPR researchers also recognize the importance of working together to find innovative ways of disseminating research results. At times, researchers will need to commit to building continued relationships and networks within the community beyond a particular project or funding phase.

Activities. Finally, the findings confirm that carrying out CBPR necessitates particular experiences for counseling researchers. For instance, experts agreed that in order to foster effective partnerships, they need to practice deep listening and undertake participant observation at many different stages of their research. Other activities that experts consistently agreed were integral to the CBPR approach include frequent meetings, spending in-depth time getting to know the community, and collecting and analyzing data in collaboration with community partners. Counseling researchers commit to inviting community partners to participate throughout the research process, including organizing and planning meetings, data collection, data interpretation, findings dissemination, and even training or mentoring in research methods. All of these activities require a willingness to be educated about the community by the community members during the CBPR process.


Implications for Counseling Practice and Counselor Education

The CBPR competencies developed in this study serve to foster relationships between researchers and counseling practitioners in the community. Through these relationships, researchers, practitioners, and the communities they represent can work to reduce the gap between research and practice through enhanced community–researcher communication (Teachman et al., 2012; Wagstaff et al., 2018) and the translation of research outcomes into counseling practice (Wester & Borders, 2014). One aim of identifying the CPBR competencies was to provide mentoring to community partners, particularly counseling practitioners, on how to use research results to create effective community interventions. The goal is to close the gap between research and practice to improve treatment for our clients and improve communities.

A common language for interprofessional collaboration. This study brought together experts from two key fields whose efforts resulted in 153 competency statements that reflect the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and activities necessary to successfully carry out CBPR research. These CBPR competencies provide researchers with a vehicle to facilitate interprofessional work toward a common vision of community well-being. For instance, all experts on the panel for the present study agreed that CBPR researchers understand that when the community puts forth a common effort and agrees on common goals, trusting relationships are established, leading to enhanced social networks and better use of resources. Thus, community–researcher partnership outcomes include the enhancement of access to, delivery, and quality of mental health services for communities (Collins et al., 2018), particularly hard-to-reach communities (Brookman-Frazee et al., 2016; Nieweglowski et al., 2018; O’Brien et al., 2018), and culturally appropriate interventions (Cox, 2017; Doll & Brady, 2013). Community-based research can facilitate efforts geared toward increasing the relevance of intervention methods.

Identifying competencies for training and proficiency in CBPR. The CBPR competencies identified in this study can serve as the basis for developing a training guideline for counseling practitioners, counselor–researchers, and counselors-in-training. Such a guideline allows stakeholders to maintain awareness of current and emerging research practices such as CBPR and enhances their professional responsibility (American Counseling Association, 2014, Standard C.2.f; Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, 2015, Section 6.4.d). Identifying competencies for training and proficiency is one approach to curriculum development (Mason & Schwartz, 2012) that we believe can be particularly effective. This study not only identified the necessary competencies for best practices in CBPR, but organized the competencies into meaningful categories that pertain to the four critical domains of proficiency in a given practice: knowledge, skills, attitudes, and activities. The sequence we have provided can be a useful map to the nine principles of the CBPR approach. This study lays a foundation for an effective training guideline that highlights how each CBPR domain builds upon the next. Having a CBPR training guideline will help standardize best practices in the collaborative process, thus enhancing researcher–practitioner engagement.

Promoting experiential learning opportunities for students. Counselor educators can connect emergent research and experiential learning in their curricula. The competencies highlighted by the current study may support project-based learning activities in courses that require students to approach community members and partake in a collaborative endeavor. The expectation is that the CBPR competencies would provide counselor educators and counselors-in-training with standardized guidelines for best practice in community-based research that they can apply when ready to pursue a project of their own. The emphasis in this case would be to prepare future counselors for community–researcher partnerships. The benefit of engaging students at the training level in CBPR research through the use of these competencies is that it exposes students to an awareness of the collaborative process by moving beyond knowledge components and learning the skills, attitudes, and activities necessary to initiate a partnership. This could require that a project be spread out over two or three semesters as a component in a field-based practicum or internship. The competencies can be used to structure such courses as well. For example, course objectives for one semester’s internship might include the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and actions aimed at principles one, two, and three, whereas another semester may cover principles four, five, six, and so on. Alternatively, counselor educators might choose to design their research projects through interdisciplinary or interprofessional collaborations across campus that account for CBPR principles (McElfish et al., 2015; Talley & Williams, 2018), which students may be able to join as a component of training.


Limitations of the Study

One limitation of the study reflects the emergent nature of CBPR approaches in the counseling literature, which is that some CBPR researchers may be limited in their years of formal experience with the practice. For instance, four of the expert participants reported having less than four years of experience conducting CBPR projects. Although years of experience can be an important factor in attributing expertise, several studies have also highlighted that expert status is contingent upon many contextual factors, including recognition by other experts and stakeholders (Mead & Moseley, 2001). In this case, because CBPR is still a new practice in counseling research, peer recommendation was an identifying factor.

Another limitation of this study is the number of rounds conducted. Typically, a Delphi study will include two to eight rounds, with three as the median (Garson, 2013). The aim of the third round typically involves experts providing additional feedback about the items. Although we initiated a third round of the study, experts had little to no feedback to offer, meaning that the final statements were accepted with minimum revision. Although the authors interpreted this lack of feedback as validation of the final outcomes, one might otherwise argue that the lack of feedback better reflects other factors such as expert availability and time.


Suggestions for Future Research

We suggest that future researchers apply the Rasch model to the results of the Delphi study in order to test whether or not the competencies can be quantified in a meaningful way (Bond & Fox, 2015). The main question is whether the structure of the construct is qualitative or quantitative. If quantitative, then the Rasch model will unveil the extent to which the competency statements fall on a continuum. If they do not, that does not undermine the meaningfulness of the Delphi work or the content therein; rather, it would provide evidence that the competencies have a qualitative structure, and descriptive statistics are more appropriate for summarizing responses to them.

If the competencies can form a quantitative linear variable, then validating the results from this Delphi study against further measures will help the researchers translate the competencies into an assessment tool, where it is justifiable to sum up responses, report a total score, and perform statistical analyses. This assessment tool could then be used to identify and assess the counselors’ own knowledge, skills, attitudes, and activities toward using the CBPR approach in a quantifiable way. Thus, the Rasch model is not an alternative to the Delphi study. Rather, it is a model that can test the extent to which it is justifiable to transform the statements gathered through the Delphi model into measurable variables; strengthening the efficacy of the competency statements guides instrument development to strengthen the results. Under the Rasch model, researchers can pilot the competency items to the counselors, who can be understood as the consumers of the instrument, and not to the experts who developed the competencies.



In conclusion, the results of the study provide an outline of evidence-based competencies derived from an empirical Delphi method that combined a wide-ranging literature review with expert feedback. This study comprises the beginning stages of the development and validation of CBPR competencies in counseling that may be utilized for training, practice, and further research. The findings of the present study provide awareness and initial competencies necessary to carry out CBPR research. Finally, the authors consider increasing the number of researcher–community partnerships to be key in bridging the gap between scientists and practitioners and advancing the profession. Ultimately, the aim is to improve the well-being of our clients and communities.


Conflict of Interest and Funding Disclosure
The authors reported no conflict of interest
or funding contributions for the development
of this manuscript.



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Final CBPR Competencies (Round 1 and Round 2 Results)

Domain Sub-Category Statement % Md IQR
Round One (Statements: Review of the Literature)
K P1 S.2 CBPR partnerships define the parameters of community 78.6 2.00 0.50
K P1 S.3 Community could be described as geographic entity, a group that shares a common vision and/or identity 78.6 2.00 0.75
A P1 S.4 CBPR is a research orientation, rather than a method, that aims at building community partnerships 92.9 2.00 1.00
A P1 S.6 CBPR researchers must recognize the limits of their knowledge about their community partners 85.7 1.00 1.00
A P1 S.7 CBPR researchers should work toward cultural competency 85.7 1.00 1.00
A P1 S.8 CBPR researchers should value cultural humility 92.9 1.00 1.00
S P1 S.9 CBPR researchers need to acquire appropriate tools and approaches for interacting with community partners 100 1.00 1.00
S P1 S.10 CBPR researchers must be capable of negotiating and consulting with potential community partners 100 1.00 1.00
S P1 S.12 CBPR researchers need to be skilled at problem solving that might arise when making decisions and negotiating 92.9 2.00 1.00
K P2 S.16 CBPR researchers strive to recognize and develop on assets and relations presently within the community 100 1.00 1.00
K P2 S.18 CBPR researchers understand that when the community puts forth a common effort and agrees on common goals, trust is established, which leads to enhanced social networks/relationships and better implementation of resources 92.9 2.00 0.00
A P2 S.19 Every community has its own unique strengths 100 1.00 0.00
A P2 S.20 CBPR frameworks foster conversations between partners within the community 100 1.00 1.00
S P2 S.21 CBPR approaches also help community partners recognize the strengths and resources already embedded within the current structure of their own community 100 1.00 1.00
S P2 S.22 CBPR researchers must acquire an ability to identify community assets within the community 92.9 1.00 1.00
AC P2 S.24 CBPR researchers will engage with the community in order to learn more about what resources are already available within the community 92.9 1.00 0.25
K P3 S.26 CBPR approaches aim to level the power differences between researchers and community partners by having them engage in an equal partnership 92.9 1.00 1.00
K P3 S.27 CBPR researchers encourage and invite community partners to engage in each research phase 92.9 1.00 1.00
K P3 S.28 Researchers and community partners should co-analyze and co-interpret research results 100 2.00 1.00
K P3 S.29 When community partners are involved in the research process, deeper interpretation of findings may occur 100 1.00 1.00
A P3 S.30 CBPR researchers make a commitment to collaboration by sharing expertise, being accountable, and giving credit to their communities’ partners for their contributions to knowledge production 100 1.00 0.25
A P3 S.31 CBPR researchers recognize the value of sharing power with community partners 100 1.00 1.00
A P3 S.32 CBPR researchers are flexible and accommodating 92.9 1.00 1.00
S P3 S.33 CBPR researchers must be persistent and tolerant, especially when faced with obstacles in the research plan or environment 85.7 1.00 0.25
S P3 S.34 CBPR researchers must be able to collaborate with community partners in the interpretation of results 100 1.00 1.00
S P3 S.35 Facilitate interpretation of results into practice 92.9 1.50 1.00
S P3 S.37 CBPR researchers must be willing to mentor community partners to develop skills in participating in the research project 92.9 1.00 1.00
AC P3 S.38 CBPR researchers create time for reflection and self-awareness 85.7 1.00 1.00
AC P3 S.39 CBPR researchers schedule meetings with community partners to converse and clarify viewpoints of stress/difficulties encountered 100 1.00 1.00
AC P3 S.40 CBPR researchers provide community partners the opportunity to be part of the research project from start to finish 100 1.00 1.00
K P4 S.41 CPBR starts with a research area that is significant to the community 92.9 1.00 1.00
K P4 S.42 The CBPR research agenda is co-developed with community partners 92.9 1.00 1.00
K P4 S.43 CBPR encourages community partners to identify local impediments/barriers and unite community assets to work toward community well-being 92.9 1.50 1.00
K P4 S.44 Including community partners in the research process helps develop trust and respect between researchers and community 100 1.00 1.00
A P4 S.45 CBPR researchers value the contributions of community partners 100 1.00 0.00
A P4 S.46 CBPR researchers encourage community partners to share vital perspectives and beliefs 100 1.00 0.00
A P4 S.47 CBPR researchers welcome shared responsibilities in the research process 100 1.00 1.00
A P4 S.48 CBPR researchers are prepared to learn about the community through the lens of the community partner 92.9 1.00 0.00
A P4 S.49 CBPR researchers respect local knowledge and cultural perspectives 100 1.00 0.00
S P4 S.50 CBPR researchers practice deep listening in order to learn from their community partner 100 1.00 1.00
S P4 S.51 Effective communication and management skills are critical to engaging with community stakeholders to form partnerships 100 1.00 1.00
S P4 S.52 CBPR researchers are willing to negotiate and make compromises with community partner 100 1.00 1.00
AC P4 S.54 CBPR researchers engage in consistent and open communication 100 1.00 0.25
AC P4 S.56 CBPR researchers educate community partners on the research process 92.9 1.50 1.00
AC P4 S.57 CBPR researchers and community partners must make a joint effort to decide upon task roles and allocate time for future meetings: a consistent two-way communication 85.7 2.00 1.00
K P5 S.58 CBPR researchers aspire to promote science while at the same time providing local interventions/strategies to attend to local matters in the community 92.9 1.50 1.00
K P5 S.59 CBPR integrates knowledge and action intending to enhance community well-being 92.9 1.00 1.00
K P5 S.60 CBPR researchers should include the interpretation of research results into practice, thus benefiting community partners 85.7 1.00 1.00
A P5 S.61 One aim of CBPR is to provide mentoring to community partners on how to use research results in order to create effective community interventions 92.9 2.00 1.00
A P5 S.62 CBPR researchers understand that this framework does not require researchers to give up scientific rigor 100 1.00 1.00
S P5 S.63 CBPR researcher must know how to demonstrate the direct benefits of the research project to community partners 85.7 1.00 1.00
AC P5 S.64 CBPR researcher will assist community partners in developing interventions/programs based on research findings 85.7 1.00 1.00
K P6 S.65 CBPR researchers attend to issues that are of importance to the community partners involved 100 1.00 0.00
K P6 S.66 The CBPR approach stresses the environmental influences that can cause health issues such as social, economic, cultural, and historical and political realms 92.9 1.00 1.00
K P6 S.68 CBPR researchers attend to physical, mental, and social well-being, taking into account individual, family, and community contexts 92.9 1.00 1.00
S P6 S.70 CBPR researchers possess advocacy skills to bring awareness to community partners and/or other stakeholders of the contributing factors of health problem 85.7 2.00 1.00
S P6 S.71 CBPR researchers gather data from multiple sources to assess community priority issues 85.7 1.00 1.00
AC P6 S.72 CBPR researchers and community partners problem-solve and take a course of action to reduce disparities in the community 92.9 1.00 1.00
K P7 S.76 CBPR can be effective in bringing community partners together to determine priorities 100 1.00 1.00
A P7 S.79 CBPR researchers are persistent and flexible 100 1.50 1.00
A P7 S.80 CBPR researchers are prepared for further collaboration than initially anticipated, depending on community needs 100 2.00 1.00
S P7 S.82 CBPR researchers apply problem-solving abilities in this process 100 1.50 1.00
AC P7 S.83 CBPR researchers continue to assess and reevaluate throughout the project rather than wait until the end of the research phase 100 1.00 1.00
K P8 S.84 CBPR encourages researchers to consider how to apply the knowledge acquired through their collaborations to directly benefit the community being studied 100 1.00 1.00
K P8 S.85 An important element of CPBR is inviting community partners in the dissemination of research findings 100 1.00 1.00
A P8 S.86 CBPR researchers recognize the importance of including community partners in sharing the results with the community 100 1.00 1.00
A P8 S.87 CPBR researchers recognize the importance of finding innovative ways in partnering with community partners in disseminating research results 100 1.00 1.00
A P8 S.88 CBPR researchers understand the importance of having research results readily available 92.9 2.00 1.00
S P8 S.89 CBPR researchers have the ability to communicate findings in a way that could be understood by the community (e.g. being concise, clear, and using appropriate language) 100 1.00 1.00
AC P8 S.90 CBPR researchers share results in community settings such as town hall meetings, presentations at local venues, community newsletters, and brochures 92.9 1.00 1.00
K P9 S.92 Sustainability in CBPR means the community must desire the project to continue 85.7 2.00 1.00
K P9 S.93 CBPR research actions produce preliminary accomplishments, which, in turn, improve community trust and create sustainability 85.7 2.00 1.00
A P9 S.95 CBPR researchers commit to continued relationships and networks within the community beyond a particular project or funding phase 100 1.00 1.00
A P9 S.96 CBPR researchers understand that the community partnership may not end when the project ends 92.9 1.00 1.00
S P9 S.97 CBPR researchers, in collaboration with community partners, have the ability to create a long-term vision 92.9 1.50 1.00
AC P9 S.99 CBPR researchers take the initiative to form and sustain trust through continuous community involvement 92.3 1.00 1.00
AC P9 S.101 CBPR researchers strive for a wide range of outcomes that may include impacting local policy, relational changes, sustainability, cultural awareness, reducing health disparities, and/or improved health outcomes 92.9 1.00 1.00
Round 2 (Expert Contributed Statements)
K P1 S.1 The term “CBPR Researchers” applies to both academic and community partners 85.7 1.5 1.00
K P1 S.3 There is no one way to engage in CBPR 92.9 1.00 1.00
K P1 S.4 CBPR researchers need to know about what projects or plans have and have not worked in the past 85.7 1.50 1.00
K P1 S.5 CBPR is a philosophy that guides how a researcher engages a community in a respectful, honoring, and professional way 100 1.00 1.00
S P1 S.7 Researchers must practice cultural competence and be willing to work across different cultures, community identities, and varying needs 100 1.00 0.25
K P1 S.8 CBPR researchers need to know strategies for identifying and engaging relevant community partners 100 1.00 1.00
K P2 S.9 CBPR researchers need to know and/or be willing to learn about the community’s issues, concerns, and strengths 100 1.00 0.25
K P2 S.10 CBPR researchers need a strengths-based concept of skills 100 1.00 1.00
S P2 S.11 CBPR researchers should make skillful use of technology 100 2.00 0.50
A P2 S.12 CBPR researchers need to recognize that communities have strengths, assets, intelligence, history, wisdom, and perspectives that matter 100 1.00 0.00
A P2 S.13 CBPR researchers should be open-minded, better at listening than talking, and should know how to link project partners in meaningful ways 100 1.00 0.25
K P3 S.14 CBPR researchers need to be aware of personal biases 100 1.00 0.25
K P3 S.15 CBPR researchers need to know how to build trust and rapport with partners 100 1.00 0.00
S P3 S.16 Carrying out CBPR requires researchers to pay attention to power differentials that may emerge in the work 100 1.00 0.00
S P3 S.19 Carrying out CBPR requires researchers to be effective and reflective listeners 100 1.00 0.25
S P3 S.20 Carrying out CBPR requires researchers to have group facilitation skills 100 1.00 1.00
S P3 S.21 Researchers will demonstrate strong partnership skills (negotiating, collaborating, networking, liaising) 100 1.50 1.00
A P3 S.23 Carrying out CBPR projects requires researchers to be non-judgmental 92.9 2.00 1.00
A P3 S.24 CBPR researchers need to be willing to share power and control 100 1.00 1.00
A P3 S.25 CBPR researchers need to be honest and able to navigate academic and community settings with ease and transparency 92.9 1.00 1.00
A P3 S.26 CBPR researchers should value egalitarianism 92.9 1.00 1.00
A P3 S.27 CBPR researchers should be cognizant of systems of oppression and privilege 100 1.00 0.25
AC P3 S.29 CBPR researchers need to experience shared decision-making in their projects 100 1.00 1.00
K P4 S.30 Researchers must be knowledgeable about the principles of CBPR in order to decide with the partner community which of those principles will guide their work together 85.7 2.00 1.00
K P4 S.31 CBPR researchers need the ability to collaborate with community stakeholders by trusting them as experts in the research process 92.9 1.00 1.00
K P4 S.32 CBPR researchers need to understand that CBPR is about relationships and relationship building 100 1.00 1.00
K P4 S.33 CBPR researchers must learn about current community processes 92.9 1.50 1.00
S P4 S.34 Carrying out CBPR requires flexibility 100 1.00 0.00
S P4 S.36 CBPR projects require strong communication skills (including clarity, openness, deep listening, curiosity, cultural humility) 100 1.00 0.25
A P4 S.38 CBPR researchers must recognize what they do not know or that they may not be the most knowledgeable about the community within which they work, rather than insisting on their own expertise 100 1.00 1.00
A P4 S.39 CBPR requires valuing co-learning 92.9 1.00 0.25
A P4 S.40 CBPR requires that we leave our academic egos at the door and allow the community to fully “own” the project 92.3 1.00 1.00
AC P4 S.41 Researchers need to spend time listening to the community in which they work in order to build trust and rapport 100 1.00 0.00
AC P4 S.42 Researchers should practice deep listening as a means of gathering qualitative data from engagement activities 100 1.00 0.00
AC P4 S.43 Carrying out CBPR requires interactive community involvement 100 1.00 0.00
AC P4 S.44 Carrying out CBPR requires a willingness to be educated about community by community members 100 1.00 1.00
K P5 S.45 CBPR researchers need knowledge about participatory research 100 1.00 1.00
K P5 S.46 CBPR researchers need to know how to conduct qualitative and quantitative or mixed methods research designs 100 2.00 1.00
K P5 S.48 CBPR researchers need to know or learn how to do culturally responsive research 100 1.00 0.25
A P5 S.50 Researchers should be able to balance providing structure with knowing when to let go and let the group process prevail 100 1.00 1.00
S P5 S.52 Carrying out CBPR requires flexibility 100 1.00 1.00
S P5 S.53 CBPR projects require strong communication skills (including clarity, openness, deep listening, curiosity, cultural humility) 100 1.00 0.25
A P5 S.55 CBPR researchers must recognize what they do not know or that they may not be the most knowledgeable about the community within which they work, rather than insisting on their own expertise 100 1.00 1.00
K P6 S.62 CBPR researchers should be aware of the strengths and barriers of the community 91.7 1.00 1.00
K P6 S.63 The notion of “effective” in CBPR research is community-specific 85.7 1.00 1.00
K P6 S.65 CBPR researchers need cultural competency with respect to the community in which the research is conducted 100 1.00 1.00
S P6 S.67 Community partners should be advocates for change 85.7 1.00 1.00
A P6 S.68 Researchers need to be committed to an ecological approach 85.7 1.00 1.00
K P6 S.70 CBPR researchers need to know or learn how to do culturally responsive research 100 1.00 0.00
K P7 S.72 CBPR researchers need knowledge of the parameters of CBPR 85.7 1.50 1.00
K P7 S.73 CBPR researchers should know how to conduct nonlinear, cyclical research studies that inform policies, strengthen communities, and reduce disparities 92.9 1.00 1.00
A P7 S.74 CBPR researchers understand that process matters 100 1.00 1.00
A P7 S.75 CBPR researchers must be flexible and adaptable 78.6 1.00 0.25
AC P7 S.76 CBPR researchers need to be flexible and persistently observing 100 1.00 0.25
S P8 S.77 Successful CBPR projects will involve researchers who can communicate in lay language that a wide range of stakeholders will understand 100 1.00 1.00
S P8 S.78 CBPR researchers need to be able to translate scientific and research writing into plain language, and multiple languages if necessary 100 1.00 1.00
K P9 S.79 CBPR researchers need knowledge about how to broker the administrative aspects of CBPR (e.g., community subcontracts) 100 2.00 1.00
K P9 S.80 CBPR researchers need knowledge about academic institutional barriers to CBPR and how to overcome them 100 2.00 1.00
K P9 S.83 CBPR researchers need to know about the specifics of the CBPR process (e.g., how to form an advisory board) prior to beginning 85.7 1.50 1.00
S P9 S.86 Researchers need to be skilled in project management 78.6 2.00 0.25
AC P9 S.88 CBPR researchers need to spend in-depth time getting to know the community 100 1.50 1.00
AC P9 S.90 Carrying out CBPR projects requires organizing and planning meetings, data collection, data analysis, and training of others in research methods 92.9 1.00 1.00
AC P9 S.91 Carrying out CBPR projects requires frequent meetings and other forms of communications with partners 92.9 1.50 1.00
A CT S.93 Carrying out CBPR requires a researcher to have a positive outlook about the project 78.6 2.00 0.50
A CT S.96 Carrying out CBPR requires researchers to be flexible 100 1.00 1.00
A CT S.97 Carrying out CBPR requires researchers to be persistent 92.9 2.00 1.00
A CT S.98 Carrying out CBPR requires researchers to be patient 92.9 1.00 1.00
A CT S.100 Self-reflection is central to CBPR 85.7 1.50 1.00
A CT S.101 Humility is central to CBPR 92.9 1.50 1.00
A CT S.103 Beneficence is central to CBPR 100 1.50 1.00
K M S.104 Researchers need to acquire knowledge about how to frame CBPR work in their promotion, tenure materials, and IRB submissions 92.9 1.00 1.00
K M S.105 Researchers need knowledge about the availability of resources to support CBPR 92.9 2.00 1.00
K M S.106 Researchers would benefit from training or workshops in CBPR process 100 1.00 1.00

. Final list of CBPR competencies only includes statements that met criteria for present study: (1) the statement had 70% of experts agree (responding ‘Agree’ or ‘Strongly Agree’); (2) the statement scored a 2.5 or less for the median; and, (3) the statement achieved an IQR of less than or equal to 1. Domain/Categories include: K = Knowledge, S = Skills, A = Attitudes, AC = Activities. Subcategories include: P1 = CBPR Principle 1; P2 = CBPR Principle 2; P3 = CBPR Principle 3; P4 = CBPR Principle 4; P5 = CBPR Principle 5; P6 = CBPR Principle 6; P7 = CBPR Principle 7; P8 = CBPR Principle 8; P9 = CBPR Principle 9; CT = Core Trait; M = Mentoring; S = Statement; Md = Median; % = Percentage; IQR = Interquartile Range.


Tahani Dari, NCC, is an assistant professor at the University of Toledo. John M. Laux is a professor and associate dean at the University of Toledo. Yanhong Liu is an assistant professor at Syracuse University. Jennifer Reynolds is an associate professor at the University of Toledo. Correspondence can be addressed to Tahani Dari, Mail Stop 119, Toledo, OH 43606, Tahani.Dari@rockets.utoledo.edu.