School counselors are a well-positioned resource to reach the significant number of children and adolescents with mental health problems. In this special school counseling issue of The Professional Counselor, some articles focus on systemic, top-down advocacy efforts as the point of intervention for addressing child and adolescent mental health. Other articles investigate improving child and adolescent mental health through a localized, ground-level approach by developing school counselors’ competency areas and specific school counseling interventions. Article topics include school counselors’ professional identity, training, self-efficacy, supervision, burnout, career competencies and cultural competencies, as well as how to measure the impact of school counselors’ interventions. The author discusses the importance of school counselors’ role within schools, and hindrances to school counselors’ ability to perform their role as counselors.
Recent research has focused on the discrepancy between school counselors’ preferred roles and their actual functions. Reasons for this discrepancy range from administrators’ misperceptions of the role of the school counselor to the slow adoption of comprehensive school counseling approaches such as the American School Counselor Association’s National Model. A look at counseling history reveals that competing professional identity models within the profession have inhibited the standardization of school counseling practice and supervision. School counselors are counseling professionals working within an educational setting, and therefore they receive messages about their role as both counselor and educator. The present article includes a discussion of the consequences of these competing and often conflicting messages, as well as a description of three strategies to combat the role stress associated with this ongoing debate.
This mixed-methods study investigated the relationship between burnout and performing noncounseling duties among a national sample of professional school counselors, while identifying school factors that could attenuate this relationship. Results of regression analyses indicate that performing noncounseling duties significantly predicted burnout (e.g., exhaustion, negative work environment and deterioration in personal life), and that school factors such as caseload, Adequate Yearly Progress status and level of principal support significantly added to the prediction of burnout over and above noncounseling duties. Moderation tests revealed that Adequate Yearly Progress and caseload moderated the effect of noncounseling duties as related to several burnout dimensions. Participants related their burnout experience to emotional exhaustion, reduced effectiveness, performing noncounseling duties, job dissatisfaction and other school factors. Participants conceptualized noncounseling duties in terms of adverse effects and as a reality of the job, while also reframing them within the context of being a school counselor.
This study explored rural school counselors’ perceptions of clinical supervision. School counselors working in rural communities commonly encounter issues that challenge their ability to provide competent counseling services to the students they serve. School counselors serving in these areas are often the only rural mental health provider in their community, and they may lack access to other professionals to meet supervision needs. Participants’ (n = 118) current experiences and future needs were investigated concurrently with supervision training and delivery methods most desired. The majority of school counselors in the study reported that they perceive clinical supervision as an important element in their continued personal and professional growth. However, these school counselors reported not receiving supervision at an individual, group or peer level. The need for the supervision is apparent; however, access to supervision in rural areas is limited. Implications for school counselors and recommendations for future research are discussed.
A logic model was developed based on an analysis of the 2012 American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Model in order to provide direction for program evaluation initiatives. The logic model identified three outcomes (increased student achievement/gap reduction, increased school counseling program resources, and systemic change and school improvement), seven outputs (student change, parent involvement, teacher competence, school policies and processes, competence of the school counselors, improvements in the school counseling program, and administrator support), six major clusters of activities (direct services, indirect services, school counselor personnel evaluation, program management processes, program evaluation processes and program advocacy) and two inputs (foundational elements and program resources). The identification of these logic model components and linkages among these components was used to identify a number of necessary and important evaluation studies of the ASCA National Model.
Counseling self-efficacy (CSE), defined as one’s beliefs about his or her ability to effectively counsel a client, is an important precursor of effective clinical practice. While research has explored the association of CSE with variables such as counselor training, aptitude and level of experience, little attention has been paid to CSE among school mental health (SMH) practitioners. This study examined the influence of quality training (involving quality assessment and improvement, modular evidence-based practices, and family engagement/empowerment) versus peer support and supervision on CSE in SMH practitioners, and the relationship between CSE and practice-related variables. ANCOVA indicated similar mean CSE changes for counselors receiving the quality training versus peer support. Regression analyses indicated that regardless of condition, postintervention CSE scores significantly predicted quality of practice, knowledge of evidence-based practices (EBP) and use of EBP specific to treating depression. Results emphasize the importance of CSE in effective practice and the need to consider mechanisms to enhance CSE among SMH clinicians.
The National Office for School Counselor Advocacy stated that secondary students need better support from professional school counselors when making decisions regarding their postsecondary education and career. The present qualitative study explored school counselors’ perceptions of competence in the area of career counseling, and resulted in the following themes: challenges to delivery, opportunity, self-doubt, reliance on colleagues, and the use of technology. Recommendations for college and career readiness best practice were incorporated with the findings from the National Office for School Counselor Advocacy report.
School counselors must be knowledgeable about military culture in order to help military students and their families in a culturally competent manner. This article explores the nature of this unique culture, which is often unfamiliar to educators, including its language, hierarchy, sense of rules and regulations, self-expectations and self-sacrifice. Specific suggestions, such as professional development, self-examination and cultural immersion experiences, are provided so that professional school counselors can increase their multicultural competence when working with this population. Finally, a case study illustrates the challenges associated with this culture and implications for school counselors in regard to increasing cultural competence when working with military families are discussed.
The diversity of the U.S. school population speaks to a need to provide support for youth from various backgrounds. As a school-based mental health counselor, the first author observed that the South Asian immigrant students at her school did not utilize any of the counseling services provided. Because South Asians are typically collectivistic, the counselor chose group counseling as a potential intervention and hoped to provide a place for the students to address issues related to orienting to a new school in a new country. In this article, the authors weave information about the South Asian population into the first author’s reflections and commentary on initiating and conducting a group with South Asian high school girls. Recommendations for group counseling in schools with South Asian immigrants are provided.
This study sought to examine students’ perceptions of their school counselors in two high schools in Beijing, China. Independent t tests found that female students rated school counselors’ availability significantly higher than male students did. Also, students who had received prior counseling services rated counselors significantly higher in the following areas than did students who had never received counseling services: knowledge of achievement tests, friendliness and approachability, understanding students’ point of view, advocating for students, promptness in responding to requests, ability to explain things clearly, reliability to keep promises, availability, and overall effectiveness. A 2 × 2 between-subjects ANOVA found an interaction effect between gender and use or nonuse of counseling services. In general, students gave positive evaluations of school counselors and were satisfied with counseling services.
This pilot study explored differences between the levels of anger expression and anger control by adolescent males and females. Eighteen participants (9 males and 9 females) completed a strength-based anger management group promoting wellness. Anger management group counseling consisted of a 10-week continuous intervention emphasizing anger reduction, anger control and appropriate anger expression. Results indicated gender differences in that females exhibited more anger expression, as well as less anger control. However, females had higher levels of overall improvement. The article concludes with limitations and implications for mental health counseling with adolescent populations.
This study examines the convergent validity and divergent validity of the Student Engagement in School Success Skills (SESSS) survey. The SESSS is easy to administer (it takes fewer than 15 minutes to complete) and is used in schools to provide educators with useful information about students’ use of skills and strategies related to school success. A total of 4,342 fifth graders completed the SESSS; the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) Cognitive Strategy Use, Self-Regulation, Self-Efficacy and Test Anxiety subscales; and the Self-Efficacy for Self-Regulated Learning (SESRL). The three subscales of the SESSS (Self-Direction of Learning, Support of Classmates’ Learning and Self-Regulation of Arousal) correlated highly with the MSLQ Cognitive Strategy Use and Self-Regulation subscales, moderately correlated with the Self-Efficacy subscale and the SESRL, and did not correlate with the MSLQ Test Anxiety subscale. Future research is needed to use the SESSS subscales as discriminable dimensions.