Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Vallacher and Wegner's (1985; 1987) theory of "Action Identification" was used as a conceptual basis for the empirical examination of possible differences in the understanding of therapeutic actions held by counsellors with different levels of experience. A series of Action Identification Questionnaires was developed and checked for construct validity and test-retest reliability prior to its use in the research reported. In the main study, eighty subjects (20 private practitioners, 32 faculty members, and 28 graduate students) completed the series of Action Identification Questionnaires by rating ten different identifications of seven commonly-employed therapeutic responses. As predicted, factor analyses revealed readily interpretable results for six of the seven counselling behaviours. However, the hypothesis that graduate students and practitioners would display significantly lower endorsements of low level factors associated with the common counsellor actions than would the academics was not supported. Additional correlational results failed to support the related hypothesis that increased experience and perceived proficiency would be associated with a waning of low-level prepotence in action identifications for these subjects.;An extended study was introduced in order to obtain a true novice sample. Forty-eight undergraduate subjects completed the Action Identification Questionnaires, and their responses were added to the responses obtained from the eighty subjects in the first study. Three hypotheses were proposed: (a) factors consistent with Action Identification theory would be revealed by the factor analyses; (b) the novice group would rate low level identities lower than the academics and graduate students, but not significantly lower than the practitioners; and (c) the pattern of low-level endorsements by the four groups would display a quadratic trend such that the practitioners and novices would have lower low level endorsements than the academics and graduate students. Results of the extended study offered partial support to all three hypotheses. Limitations of this study as well as implications for research and counsellor education are discussed.



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