Counseling Screening Tool Works For Military and Non-Military Students, Study Finds

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LAWRENCE – Since the 1940s Bill GI has helped provide educational benefits after service members have completed military service. The most recent legislation, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, known as the Forever GI Bill, expanded benefits and reduced restrictions, leading more veterans and their dependents to seek superior Studies. These veterans often bring with them experiences that require support and guidance beyond the commonly discussed post-traumatic stress disorder. Yet, so far, little research has examined how well the most common psychological counseling and screening tools on college campuses work for veterans.

Arpita Ghosh“There is a common stereotype that all veterans struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. But there are other things to understand about their experiences, such as their family situation, what branch of service they were in, what they were studying, their goals, their age and much more, ”said Arpita Ghosh, professor. assistant in educational psychology at the University of Kansas. Ghosh is co-author of a new study on counseling services for veterans enrolled in higher education.

To better understand how veterans are served, Ghosh and his coauthors tested the Counseling Center Assessment of Psychological Symptoms – 34, a shorter version of CCAPS – 62, both developed by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health in Pennsylvania. State University. The study was published in the journal Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development. It was co-authored by Christopher Niileksela, assistant professor of educational psychology, and Aisha Parham, doctoral candidate in counseling psychology, all of KU, and Rebecca Janis of Penn State.

“It’s a good measure to see what a person comes into consultation with. Counselors often use CCAPS 62 or 34 every few sessions to see if clients are making improvements, ”Ghosh said. “Basically we’re trying to see if the subscales of the measure hold up well for both veterans and non-veteran students.”

CCAPS – 34 assesses seven types of psychological symptoms that are common in university and college counseling center clients: school distress, alcohol use, depression, eating problems, generalized anxiety, hostility, and social anxiety. Researchers analyzed data from 2014 to 2016 from more than 174,000 clients at these counseling centers across the United States to assess the mental health issues of veteran and non-veteran students. They compared more than 2,800 students with military experience to an equal number of randomly selected students who did not. The researchers then performed analyzes on the dataset to see if there was factor invariance, that is, if the tool measured the same constructs in both groups.

Of all the seven symptoms and psychological subscales, the CCAPS – 34 worked uniformly for both groups. Only one item on the generalized anxiety subscale, “I have trouble sleeping,” showed differences between groups. Ghosh said it was not immediately clear why this item was different for groups, as it did not address the types of sleep difficulties a person might have, or why they might be having difficulty, as an effect anxiety, PTSD or other. .

The analyzes are an encouraging sign that CCAPS – 34 is working well for veteran and non-veteran students. While it’s important to check its validity for both groups through research, the study’s authors argue that the assessment should only be part of a much larger understanding of what each person goes through who visits one. CCUCC. Previous research has shown that higher education veterans often have interpersonal struggles and difficulty relating to their classmates, professors, and others on campus who do not share or understand their experiences of learning. life. Knowing a client as a more complete person is also essential, as they may underreport symptoms, not understand the importance of certain issues, or even be uncomfortable discussing certain aspects of their life and his experiences with counselors.

Ghosh said she and her colleagues are continuing to assess other psychological screening tools for veterans and non-military students. This study helps to show that their methodology for evaluating these screening tools is valid and can be used to study the effectiveness of others, such as those that assess the professional preparation of veterans in higher education.

With the large number of veterans seeking an education, college and university counseling centers are essential in providing the services and support they need.

“CCUCCs need to be equipped to deal with veterans issues, because the VA and the Department of Defense are not necessarily set up to serve the large number of veterans that we have. The demand is there, but the supply of counselors who understand veterans issues is limited, ”Ghosh said. “And it’s important to see our clients holistically. There are things the CCAPS-34 does not take into account, such as branch of service, when a person served, whether they witnessed combat and much more. All of these factors can contribute to the way a person responds to counseling. “

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