Date of Award

Summer 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Public Service

Committee Director

Wie Yusuf

Committee Member

David Chapman

Committee Member

Kaprea F. Johnson


Accountability is an integral aspect of occupational regulation and professional licensure and helps to promote ethical behavior within professional occupations. States have the autonomy to implement laws and enact sanctions against professionals who are in violation of the regulations and professional norms of the field. This research explores accountability and ethical behavior in the licensed professional counselor occupation. The purpose is twofold, it examines how states vary in their approach to setting legal and professional accountability measures as defined by minimum requirements for education and practice and it explores the relationship between ethical outcomes as defined by disciplinary violations and disciplinary actions taken by the state board of counseling. Based on accountability and ethics literature, using a state comparative study, state licensure experience and practice requirements are examined, including how states vary in their approach to setting accountability measures including education and practice standards, and how state licensing board regulations affect the ethical behavior of licensed professional counselors.

Data utilized for the study comes from pre-existing sources, including the American Counseling Association, the Center for Public Integrity, and government databases of the 50 states. States were ranked according to how they score overall on the education and experience requirements and grouped according to similarities and differences. The results of the study indicated that most of the identified educational and experience requirements were not significantly associated with lower levels of discipline violations and discipline actions. However, one statistically significant association was indicated, but it was in the opposite direction as expected. CACREP accreditation of graduate degree counseling programs was found to be positively associated with discipline violations and discipline actions, suggesting states that require CACREP accreditation of counseling programs report more incidents of discipline violations and discipline actions taken against professional counselors. This study indicates that there may be unidentified contributing factors affecting the ethical behaviors of professional counselors as well as raises the question if the rules and regulations currently in place are adequate to ensure proper oversite. Further exploration in this topic area is needed to fully understand how licensure board regulations can be improved to provide oversite and guidance to professionals in the field.