An evaluation of a community-based counselor education program for empathy

The purpose of this study was to evaluate empathy response as an outcome of training received by students in counseling/communication skills. The training received was through a two-year course in counselor preparation. Effectiveness was determined by measuring the verbal response of one group of students. Experimental subjects were 34 graduate students enrolled in a skills-based counselor education course at California State University, Northridge. Control subjects were 28 graduate students applying for entrance into Master of Arts programs in Educational Psychology. Control subjects were tested prior to receiving instruction in counseling skills. The hypothesis for this study was that there would be no significant difference in the empathy scores between control and experimental groups. The t-test was used to test the hypothesis. Within the framework of the hypothesis, the findings of the study indicate that there was a significant difference found between the mean scores for the experimental and control groups. As a result of this study, it can be concluded that the skills-based approach to counselor education had a positive impact on communicating empathic understanding in simulated counseling sessions.