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DSST Fundamentals of Counseling Study Guide

Updated: Aug 18



The DSST Fundamentals of Counseling exam covers everything from roles and functions to human growth and development!


If you're studying for this test, check out our study guide of what you can expect.


Good luck with your test!


Table of Contents

  1. Historical Development

  2. Counselor Roles and Functions

  3. The Counseling Relationship

  4. Theoretical Approaches

  5. Social and Cultural Foundations

  6. Career Development

  7. Human Growth and Development

  8. Assessment and Appraisal Techniques

  9. Conclusion

  10. Student Resources

  11. References


1. Historical Development


DSST Fundamentals of Counseling Exam Outline. Historical Development (4% - 6%).
Historical Development (4% - 6%)

  • Significant Influences and Historical Elements: With the rise of science, the church's power declined, and it was not always able to give the needed help.


  • People of Significance: Frank Parsons was known as “The father of the guidance movement” and was credited with being the first counselor.



DSST Fundamentals of Counseling Trivia Question #119



2. Counselor Roles and Functions


DSST Fundamentals of Counseling Exam Outline. Counselor Roles and Functions (19% - 21%).
Counselor Roles and Functions (19% - 21%)

  • The Profession of Counseling: Professional counselors have a minimum of a master's degree (M.Ed.) in counseling.


  • Role expectations of counseling in various settings: Comfort, security/privacy, noise/stimuli control, and a supportive environment are crucial to counseling.


  • Professional Associations: Examples include the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA).


  • Consultation: The process whereby an expert enables a consultee to deliver services more effectively to the client.


  • The group approach: Facilitate interaction among members to help them learn from one another.


  • Family counseling: Treatment to help families overcome mental or emotional problems that may result within the home.


  • Individual counseling: The traditional, one-on-one setting is most commonly associated with the profession.


  • Advocacy: Speaking and acting on behalf of the client


3. The Counseling Relationship


DSST Fundamentals of Counseling Exam Outline. The Counseling Relationship (14% - 16%).
The Counseling Relationship (14% - 16%)

  • Communication: Involves both verbal and non-verbal behavior of the client.


  • Counselor Characteristics and Skills: Ability to listen and convey understanding without judgment.


  • Ethical and legal issues: Adherence to ethical codes and standards relevant to career counseling (e.g., NBCC, NCDA, and ACA).



DSST Fundamentals of Counseling Trivia Question #245



4. Theoretical Approaches


DSST Fundamentals of Counseling Exam Outline. Theoretical Approaches (19% - 21%).
Theoretical Approaches (19% - 21%)

  • Psychodynamic: Focuses on the unconscious process as they manifest in a person in real-time.


  • Humanistic and Experiential: The focus is helping individuals recognize strengths and creativity and be in the “here and now.”


  • Cognitive–Behavioral: By changing one's negative behavior (bad habits), one's behavior and effect will also change.


  • Behavioral: Like Cognitive Therapy, it seeks to change one's behavior.


  • Systems: Behavior patterns and the human experience are explored by using complex systems.


  • Postmodern approaches: Narrative, Solution-Focused, and Collaborative Language Systems are three of the most common types.


5. Social and Cultural Foundations


DSST Fundamentals of Counseling Exam Outline. Social and Cultural Foundations (14% - 16%).
Social and Cultural Foundations (14% - 16%)

  • Multicultural issues (e.g., religion, race, ability, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socioeconomics, spiritual, non-traditional approaches, etc.): A multicultural approach to counseling challenges the assumption that one interviewing style is transferable to all clients.


  • Discrimination issues (e.g., gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, AIDS, managed care, etc.): Try to understand what causes them and how they can be removed.


  • Societal concerns (e.g., substance abuse, physical and sexual abuse, stress, violence): Counselors must articulate and implement counseling intervention strategies the counselor and the client perceive as appropriate.


6. Career Development


DSST Fundamentals of Counseling Exam Outline. Career Development (6% - 8%).
Career Development (6% - 8%)

  • Theories: There are two career development theories: structural and developmental.


  • Decision-making models: Some decision-making theories hypothesize that there are critical points in our lives when choices are made that greatly influence our career development.


  • Career Information Resources: The Occupational Outlook Handbook describes hundreds of occupations, including salary expectations and growth outlook.


7. Human Growth and Development


DSST Fundamentals of Counseling Exam Outline. Human Growth and Development (7% - 9%).
Human Growth and Development (7% - 9%)

  • Child development: Children’s basic survival depends on forming meaningful, effective relationships with other people.


  • Adolescent development: Adolescents discover their true identity amid confusion created by playing different roles for different people in their social surroundings.


  • Adulthood: An essential stage in early adulthood that allows a person to have the capacity for closeness and commitment to another.



DSST Fundamentals of Counseling Trivia Question #325



8. Assessment and Appraisal Techniques


DSST Fundamentals of Counseling Exam Outline. Assessment and Appraisal Techniques (9% - 11%).
Assessment and Appraisal Techniques (9% - 11%)

  • Testing and measurement: Researchers follow the scientific method to obtain reliable evidence that generates valid results.


  • Models of Assessment: Scientific theories undergo rigorous testing, and independent investigators must replicate the results before the theories are recognized as proven.


  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 4th Ed. (DSM-IV): DSM-IV is the current diagnostic and statistical manual of the American Psychiatric Association that classifies, defines, and describes over 200 mental disorders.


9. Conclusion: DSST Fundamentals of Counseling


The DSST Fundamentals of Counseling exam is challenging, but with the proper preparation, you can achieve a passing score.


We also offer an online course library with extensive practice questions to help you prepare for your exam.


Study with us and access the world's most extensive DSST course library!


10. Student Resources


11. References


DSST Fundamentals of Counseling Fact Sheet

DSST Fundamentals of Counseling Fact Sheet
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Download PDF • 233KB

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