Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Norman A. Scott


Two hundred twenty-eight National Institute of Senior Center members, representing a 50.1% response rate to a national survey, completed a questionnaire regarding their centers' present or potential counseling services. Respondents indicated that beginning or continuing to offer counseling programs was important and necessary. Results revealed that lack of funding was the primary reason for not offering or discontinuing counseling services;Almost 45% of the responding centers reported offering counseling for their participants. These centers indicated that, on average, over 65 clients or over 7% of the centers' participants, were utilizing their counseling services. In addition, centers offering counseling programs referred an average of over 50 seniors per year to other community counseling services. Those centers with counseling programs were more than twice as likely as centers without programs to refer their participants to external counseling services. The results suggest that the elderly may be relatively more willing to utilize counseling services offered through senior centers than counseling services offered by other community sources;Of the 102 centers that indicated offering counseling services, 32 (31%) used both seniors and volunteers as counselors, 31 (30%) used neither seniors nor volunteers, 20 (20%) used seniors but not volunteers, and 11 (11%) used volunteers but not seniors. For the remaining 8 (8%) of those centers offering counseling, it could not be determined whether seniors or volunteers were used. Thus, there was great variety in the use of "peer" counselors by these centers. The question of whether peer counselor utilization was achieved through design or circumstance is raised;Centers using only nonseniors and professionals as counselors rated counselor recruitment and retainment as less difficult than did centers using both seniors and volunteers. In addition, centers using only nonsenior, professional counselors reported more favorable accessibility, efficacy, and utilization ratings of their counseling services than did centers using senior and volunteer counselors;This study's results indicate that the utilization and efficacy of counseling services for the elderly may be improved through a cooperative alliance between mental health professionals and community senior centers.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

James Dean Thompson



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

213 pages