Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Supervision

Committee Chair

Leigh Holman

Committee Member

Steve West

Committee Member

Steve Zanskas

Committee Member

Patrick Murphy


There is a large and growing population of individuals within the United States Criminal Justice system suffering from both diagnosed and undiagnosed mental health issues. The stigma associated with their offender status and mental illness can prevent sufficient quality of mental health services from being provided to this population. Even individuals that work closely with offenders have been shown to exhibit negative perceptions of offenders with mental illness and little research exists in this area related to counselors. Further, the offender population is one that requires specialized training and consideration and it is unclear how much training or exposure counselors receive in working with this challenging population. The current study investigated empathy levels, prior exposure to offenders, and attitudes towards offenders with mental illness in a population of 100 masters-level counselor trainees. Multiple regression analyses were used to examine which study variables could predict counselor trainee attitudes towards offenders with mental illness. Results of the study showed that prior exposure and some types of empathy could predict attitudes towards this population. These findings offer intervention and training recommendations that graduate counseling programs could implement to better prepare counselor trainees to work with the population of mentally ill offenders in the US.Counselor Trainee Empathy, Exposure and Attitudes Towards Offenders with Mental Illness


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest