The Essential School Counselor in a Changing Society


Jeannine R. Studer

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    This book is dedicated to Cameron, Jackson, Ryan, Mia, and Allison, who have enriched my life


    School system seeking motivated, passionate individual who is flexible, has an exceptional ability to communicate, knowledge of collaboration through networking, and inordinate stamina to deal with the myriad job demands. Individuals seeking a school counseling position must have indepth knowledge of the school environment, extraordinary ability to teach classroom guidance lessons while maintaining classroom management, and outstanding individual and group counseling skills to work with students on academic, vocational, and personal/social concerns. Consultation skills, awareness of developmental stages of growth, and ability to advocate for change while demonstrating effectiveness of interventions are additional skills required for this position. The successful candidate must also have the skills to lead a comprehensive, developmental school counseling program while bringing about systemic change in which all students are able to access equal educational opportunities.

    An enthusiastic, dedicated school counselor who advocates for the students with whom he/she works is one of the most vital, exciting, exhausting, life-altering positions in the school. As the invented job description illustrates in the example above, the school counselor has multiple roles to play in which a variety of skills and knowledge are necessary. As you begin your journey to enter the school counselor profession, consider your reasons for choosing this profession and the skills you possess that will assist you in successfully working with the many stakeholders who have a mutual interest in the development of school-age youth. The profession of school counseling is one that can be overwhelming, and emotionally and physically strenuous as we listen to students’ struggles, hear stories of gruesome living conditions, and try to understand how youth are able to cope despite deplorable life situations. It can also be one of the most rewarding professions when we are able to see that our work with students has contributed to new skill development and knowledge that have led to well-adjusted, confident adults. For an example of how you are able to be a powerful force in each student's life, read the following incident as relayed by an elementary school counselor.

    A professional school counselor reminisced about one of his male 5th grade students, who faced difficult conditions but was eventually able to learn resiliency skills to achieve personal goals. The counselor explained that this young student lived with his single mother in a rough section of the small, rural town. The town had some gang activity with daily violence that caused the young man to develop anger issues, resulting in physical fights nearly every day. The counselor clarified that the student stated he did not like to fight but felt that if he did not stand up for himself, the situation would be worse because others would view him as a “wimp” and an easy target. The counselor listened empathically and explained to the student that although he lived in a tough setting, he had the choice of being a student while he was in school. This youth's intelligence helped him meet his academic goals and during games of chess that the counselor used as a counseling strategy to engage the 5th grader, the counselor continually reinforced the boy's progress toward his goals. By the end of the school year the student grew academically and socially due to the interest and time the school counselor invested in him.

    The information in this book is intended to provide a comprehensive understanding of the role of the professional school counselor in a wide range of settings. The chapters are written to address the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) 2009 standards for school counseling in the foundation, counseling prevention, and intervention, diversity and advocacy, assessment, research and evaluation, academic development, collaboration and consultation, and leadership domains. Throughout this book I have addressed the knowledge, skills, and practices for each of the standards for school counselor trainees, in order to develop a greater understanding of the school counselor's role and what successful practice in a school setting entails. Each domain and standard is indicated by a marginal icon within the various chapters through a didactic discussion, case studies, activities designed for K-12 students, and conceptual application activities to facilitate knowledge of self and the profession. In addition to the information included in this text, a companion website supplements these materials.

    The increasing diversity of our education system is a reflection of how our school population has changed over the decades. School counselors are instrumental in contributing to a safe, respectful school environment with a culture of appreciation for differences. In addition, social justice principles serve as a basis for designing, implementing, and evaluating strategies, programs, and policies to promote egalitarian practice. As school counselors, we strive to ensure that all students have access to opportunities that enhance academic, vocational, social, and personal success. Too often school counseling students are educated about multiculturalism and social justice in individual courses with little understanding of how these areas are infused in all aspects of our professional obligations. Therefore, I have addressed these issues throughout each of the chapters, integrating relevant concepts with theories and ideas applicable to the school counselor's profession.

    For School Counselors-in-Training: As you read the materials in this book, take time to read and reflect on your reasons for entering the school counseling profession. Did you choose this profession because you had a school counselor who was instrumental in helping you improve your grades or assisting with your post-secondary plans? Perhaps this person was significant in supporting you when you were having difficulties in your personal life. Did you choose this profession because you wish you had had someone in your school who was able to provide the help you needed during troubled times in your life? These are exciting times to be a source of support in the schools and make a difference in the lives of preK–12 students in various capacities. The conceptual application activities included throughout the book are designed to promote a greater understanding of yourself and the profession. Student activities in the chapters are provided to assist you in applying theory as you work with school-age youth.

    Your education does not end when you leave your training program. This is just the foundation for the skills and knowledge you will need to work with youth in the 21st century. Be aware that as a novice school counselor, you will be asked to perform the same tasks with the wisdom that experienced practitioners enjoy. This expectation may seem unreasonable, but nevertheless there is a belief that you will leave your training program with the same skills and knowledge as those who have been in the profession for many years. Don't hesitate to consult with your experienced colleagues, join your professional organizations, read counseling literature, take a leadership position to advocate for our profession, and most important of all, take care of yourself as you enter this inspiring, yet exhausting profession.

    For Counselor Educators. The materials in this book provide foundational information for students entering the school counseling specialty area. The chapters were written by school counselors for school counselors-in-training and contain practical advice, case studies, self-reflection activities, resources, student activities, and valuable websites. Several chapters were written to supplement some of the free-standing courses in the counseling curriculum with the intention of specifically applying concepts that are school-specific. For instance, Chapter 5—The School Counselor as a Group Leader and Facilitator is not intended to replace a course on group work, but rather to provide school counselor trainees specific group concepts that relate to a school setting. Likewise, Chapter 8—The School Counselor and Career Counseling, supports the knowledge of school counselors-in-training through in-depth discussions of school-related career activities, websites, and resources.

    This book is divided into three sections: “Foundations of School Counseling,” “Counseling, Intervention, and Prevention,” and “Enhancing Academics through a Positive School Culture.” A description of the chapters in each section follows.

    Foundations of School Counseling

    Pearl Buck wrote, “if you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.” School counselors who are preparing to work with school-age youth have knowledge of the school counselor pioneers who paved the path for school counseling in the 21st century. As you read chapter 1 you will find that some of the same challenges our predecessors confronted are still troubling the profession today, although the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) has taken significant steps in supporting school counselors at all levels. The chapters in this section provide an integrated base for the roles and responsibilities of the school counselor and the movements that led to the profession it is today.

    • Chapter 1—From Guidance Worker to Professional School Counselor
    • Chapter 2—The School Counselor and Ethical and Legal Issues
    • Chapter 3—Comprehensive and Developmental School Counseling Programs
    • Chapter 4—The School Counselor's Role in Assessment and Research
    Chapter 1 From Guidance Worker to Professional School Counselor

    In this chapter the history of the school counseling profession, with attention to the early school counselor pioneers and counselor identity, is discussed. The characteristics of effective counselors, credentialing, professional organizations, state models, and predictions for the future of school counseling are examined.

    Chapter 2 The School Counselor and Ethical and Legal Issues

    School counselors often have difficulty making professional decisions, particularly when legal and ethical issues collide. A decision-making model is provided in this chapter with attention to moral decision-making principles. The ASCA ethical standards are summarized and applied to vignettes that relate to each of the standards.

    Chapter 3 Comprehensive and Developmental School Counseling Programs

    Michael Bundy

    This chapter is written to supplement the information within the ASCA National Model—3rd edition (2012). The foundation, management, delivery services, and accountability components, in addition to the integral themes of advocacy, leadership, collaboration, and systemic change are discussed.

    Chapter 4 The School Counselor's Role in Assessment and Research

    The importance of accountability in the schools including program, school counselor competencies and assessment, and the use of needs assessments to determine program goals are highlighted in this chapter. Action-based research and other evidence-based strategies for assessing program effectiveness are also summarized.

    Counseling, Intervention, and Prevention

    Vocational guidance was the catalyst behind the school counseling profession, and throughout the ensuing years career planning and development remain a critical component of the school counselor's role. Throughout the decades school-age youth brought personal and social issues into the school environment, and school counselors responded to these concerns through group, individual, and crisis counseling to mediate the negative influences that impact personal growth and learning.

    • Chapter 5—The School Counselor as a Group Leader and Facilitator
    • Chapter 6—Individual Counseling in the School Environment
    • Chapter 7—The School Counselor's Role in Crisis Counseling
    • Chapter 8—The School Counselor and Career Counseling
    Chapter 5 The School Counselor as a Group Leader and Facilitator

    Tara Jungersen & Carolyn Berger

    School counselors provide group counseling in the school milieu. The authors of this chapter provide an overview of group work in schools with specific strategies and considerations for implementing groups.

    Chapter 6 Individual Counseling in the School Environment

    The school counselor has the skills and training to provide individual counseling to school-age youth. Motivational interviewing is viewed as a “front-loaded” intervention used with all theoretical approaches. Popular common counseling theories counselors adapt in school settings are summarized in addition to the use of creative arts in counseling.

    Chapter 7 The School Counselor's Role in Crisis Counseling

    The various types of crises are examined as are the various cognitive, emotional, and behavioral responses to these events. A crisis intervention model that school counselors are able to implement for work with youth in crisis is summarized. In addition, specific crises such as youth living in poverty, child abuse and neglect, substance use and abuse, homelessness, youth who self-harm, bullying, and suicidal ideation are discussed.

    Chapter 8 The School Counselor and Career Counseling

    Aaron H. Oberman

    In this chapter school counselor roles and responsibilities related to careers are discussed and sample activities and websites for use with K-12 youth are given. In addition, this chapter contains suggestions for writing letters of recommendations as well as career planning strategies to use with diverse students and their families. Finally, a glimpse of future career trends is offered with attention to the impact of technology.

    Enhancing Academics through a Positive School Culture

    The school counselor is an integral part of the academic mission of the school, and a collaborative partner in creating a safe, trusting academic environment for all students to develop to their fullest extent. The effective school counselor has an awareness of child and adolescents’ developmental stages, needs, and tasks. A multiculturally aware school counselor has a responsibility to self-assess awareness, knowledge, and skills to assist all youth and their families. Advocating for diverse youth and their needs in addition to collaborating and consulting with stakeholders provides an enriched, respectful academic culture that enhances the development of students regardless of differences.

    • Chapter 9—The School Counselor's Role in Academic Achievement
    • Chapter 10—Developmental and Multicultural Issues of School-Age Youth
    • Chapter 11—The School Counselor as an Advocate and Leader
    • Chapter 12—The School Counselor as a Consultant and Collaborator
    Chapter 9 The School Counselor's Role in Academic Achievement

    Deborah Buchanan

    This chapter provides an overview of the school system including the culture and climate, professional learning communities, and improving academic achievement through guidance delivery. Learning styles, classroom management, developing lesson plans, and peer programs are discussed.

    Chapter 10 Developmental and Multicultural Issues of School-Age Youth

    Developmental theories guide school counselors as they work with diverse students. Attention is given to students with special needs, English-language learners, students who are gifted, those with mental health disorders and disabilities, and students who are a sexual minority.

    Chapter 11 The School Counselor as an Advocate and Leader

    Advocacy and leadership are essential school counselor tasks to reach all students and their families. Advocacy models, characteristics of effective leaders, and strategies for communicating with school principals about the vital role of the school counselor are included in this chapter.

    Chapter 12 The School Counselor as Consultant and Collaborator

    In this chapter the various consultative models and collaborative strategies, including Response to Intervention and School-wide Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports, are discussed with attention to multiculturalism. In addition, working with families of students with special needs, grandparents raising their grandchildren, and working with military families are summarized.


    I am grateful to numerous individuals who have been instrumental in the development of this book. First of all, I would like to acknowledge Carolyn Berger, Mike Bundy, Debbie Buchanan, Tara Jungersen, and Aaron Oberman, who offered time, energy, and expertise in writing their chapters.

    I am also appreciative of Kassie Graves, senior acquisitions editor, Elizabeth Luizzi, and Eve Oettinger for their assistance in providing information, feedback, and help in the preparation of this book, and their sense of humor in listening to my dog snore during a phone conference. I would also like to acknowledge Kate Stern for her thoughful copyediting and sense of humor, and Stephanie Palermini, production editor, for her assistance with this project.

    A special thank you to the following school counselors, who provided me with rich, real-life incidents they encountered as school counselors. Your experiences provide actual examples of how the classroom concepts relate to the meaningful school counselor position. I value your dedication to our profession and helping students of all ages succeed. The list of individuals follows: Beverly Anderson, Elishia Jones Basner, Sarah Bast, Betty Anne Domm, Sharon Earley, Vicki Hill, Amy Kroninger, Amy Marshall, Brittany Pollard, Andrew Phillips, Natasha Self-Dorow, Linda Treadwell, Vicki Van Ness, and Mary Webster. Finally, thanks to my husband, Jim, who played many games of golf while I worked on this book, and Maggie, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who spent many hours underneath my desk.

  • About the Author

    Jeannine R. Studer is a professor of counselor education at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She was previously a high school counselor at Perkins High School in Sandusky, Ohio, and later she began the school counseling program at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio, where she was an assistant and associate professor and program coordinator. Studer was also an associate professor and co-program coordinator of school counseling at California State University, Stanislaus.

    Studer received her doctorate in counseling at the University of Toledo. She has written numerous journal articles on the school counselor's role, at-risk students, students with special needs, supervision of school counselors, and accountability procedures. She is the author of The Professional School Counselor: An Advocate for Students; Supervising the School Counselor Trainee: Guidelines for Practice; and A Guide to Practicum and Internship for School-Counselors-in-Training.

    About the Contributors

    Carolyn Berger, PhD, is a graduate of the University of Florida and is presently an assistant professor at Nova Southeastern University. She is a certified school counselor and served as a school counselor for five years. She is a board member of the Florida School Counselor Association and is president for 2013–2014. She has several publications about career theory and career readiness, and the school counselor's role in bullycide.

    Deborah Buchanan, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology and counselor educator in the psychology department at Austin Peay State University (APSU) in Clarksville, Tennessee. She is currently the graduate program coordinator for the school counseling program at APSU. She received her PhD in Counselor Education in 2011 from the University of Tennessee. She has 13 years of experience in the public school setting, five as a middle school teacher and eight as a middle school counselor. She maintains her certification both as a professional school counselor and a middle school teacher in the state of Tennessee. She has published and presented on the topics of school administrators’ perceptions of school counselors’ roles; classroom management tips and techniques for school counselors; effective collaboration between school counselors and stakeholders; transforming counselor educators: facilitating a change in professional identity through a constructivist approach; and transforming counselors to counselor educators: doctoral students’ exploration of PhD programs. Deborah's current research interests include school counselors’ experiences with classroom management, school administrator and school counselor relationships, and counselors-in-training skill development.

    Michael Bundy, PhD, NCC, CPC, is an assistant professor in the School Counseling Program at Carson-Newman University. For over twenty years, he served in East Tennessee as a secondary and junior high counselor in a rural school and as an elementary school counselor in a suburban setting. He earned his PhD in counselor education from the University of Tennessee. His research interests include best practices in school counseling and comprehensive developmental school counseling programs. He has published eighteen articles and three book chapters and has made numerous presentations at the regional, state, and national levels. He has been recognized numerous times for his work, most notably as Counselor-of-the-Year, Outstanding Achievement in Counselor Education, and Counselor-Educator-of-the-Year by the Tennessee Counseling Association.

    Tara Jungersen, PhD, LMHC, NCC, ACS, is an assistant professor of counselor education at Nova Southeastern University. She completed her PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision at the University of Tennessee, and her M.Ed. in Community Counseling at the University of Virginia. She is a licensed mental health counselor, with both individual and group work experience in private practice, community mental health, and elementary, middle and high schools. Her research interests include clinical supervision, intimate partner violence, trauma, and treatment access for underserved populations. Jungersen is a member of the American Counseling Association, the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, and Chi Sigma Iota.

    Aaron H. Oberman, PhD, NCC, is an associate professor of counselor education at the Citadel, where he also serves as the coordinator of school counseling field experiences. He earned his doctorate in counselor education and supervision from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Oberman's experiences include work as a career counselor, as well as a counselor educator with an emphasis in school and career counseling. His research interests focus on teaching career counseling, the supervision of school counselors-in-training, and the implementation of the ASCA National Model.

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