A Review of the School Counseling Literature for Themes by obr18219


									Charlene M. Alexander,
    Ph.D., is an associate
        professor. E-mail:
Theresa Kruczek, Ph.D.,
                               A Review of the School Counseling
   is a assistant professor.
Adam Zagelbaum and
  Maria Chase Ramirez
                               Literature for Themes Evolving
 are doctoral students in
the Counseling Program
                               from The Education Trust
   and School Psychology
    Program respectively.
  All are with Ball State
University, Department         The authors examine themes evolving from The               poor students and students of color and their more
of Counseling Psychology       Education Trust Initiative to determine how these          advantaged peers. House and Hayes outlined a
 and Guidance Services,        themes are reflected in the professional school counsel-   “New Vision” for school counselors, moving from a
               Muncie IN.      ing literature.                                            present focus as mental health providers to a focus
                                                                                          on academic/student achievement.

                                   he Education Trust conducted a series of focus            This debate about the appropriate emphasis for
                                   groups in 1996 with school counseling stake-           school counselors has similarly been voiced in other
                                   holders (i.e., school counselors, counselor edu-       recent Professional School Counseling articles with
                               cators, principals, counseling graduate students) and      some authors advocating a need for a stronger men-
                               identified specific problems and solutions for school      tal health counseling perspective (e.g., Lockhart &
                               counseling and counselor education programs. The           Keys, 1998; Luongo, 2000; Taylor & Adelman,
                               findings included the following: (Guerra, 1998a):          2000) and others focusing on the educational
                                                                                          achievement role (e.g., Sink, 2001, Guerra, 1998b).
                               ❚ School counselors focus too much on counseling              The “New Vision” for school counseling put
                                 students with serious emotional and social prob-         forth by The Education Trust was examined in a
                                 lems while denying students sufficient academic          study conducted by Perusse and Goodnough
                                 guidance and direction.                                  (2001). This study was conducted to determine
                               ❚ Current counselor training programs offer a core         counselor educators’ perceptions of the importance
                                 of generic counseling courses that do not provide        of the concepts defined by The Education Trust and
                                 counselors with the specific knowledge and skills        the extent to which these concepts were reflected in
                                 needed to be effective in schools. For example, the      their master’s-level school counseling programs. The
                                 vast majority of counselor preparation programs          results of their investigation showed that, overall,
                                 emphasize a mental health model with few con-            counselor educators perceived that the concepts
                                 nections to student achievement as an important          defined by The Education Trust vision for school
                                 indicator of student success. (p.36).                    counseling (i.e., education equity, access, and aca-
                                                                                          demic success, with a concentration on interventions
                                 Following the publication of the Guerra (1998a)          that close the achievement gap) are important and
                               article, a firestorm of debate ensued about the edu-       should be included in school counselor preparation
                               cation achievement vs. mental health focus identified      programs.
                               by The Education Trust. Guerra (1998b) reported               While the former investigation was designed to
                               that many of the responses “centered around what           investigate counselor educators’ perceptions of The
                               focus and direction school counseling, and concur-         Education Trust initiative, this study was designed
                               rently school counselor education, should take. …          to determine how The Education Trust National
                               The Education Trust seemed to advocate what                Initiative for Transforming School Counseling,
                               counselors were calling a ‘guidance’ model, other          which promotes academic achievement as the pri-
                               counselors were advocating for a ‘counseling’ or           mary focus of school counselors vs. a mental health
                               ‘mental health’ model” (p.2). House and Hayes              focus (House & Hayes, 2002), is reflected in the
                               (2002), on behalf of The Education Trust, further          professional school counseling literature. While it is
                               argued that school counselors must work to be              beneficial to the profession to understand how
                               proactive leaders who are effective collaborators in       counselor educators perceive The Education Trust
                               advocating for the academic success of all students.       Initiative, it is also beneficial to determine how the
                               This means that school counselors’ primary focus           concepts of education achievement and mental
                               should be to close the achievement gap between             health are reflected in our professional literature.

                                                                                                                    7:1 OCTOBER 2003 | ASCA   29
                                Professional publications of any discipline reflect      METHOD
                             current issues, trends, and values of the profession as
                             well as information deemed necessary for adequate           Materials
                             practice (Flores, Rooney, Heppner, Browne, & Wei,           The first five volumes of the Professional School
                             1999; LeUnes, 1974). One way to assess the infor-           Counseling journal and the last three volumes of
                             mation deemed relevant for practice by a profession         both Elementary School Guidance and Counseling
                             is to review the professional publications. Addition-       and The School Counselor journals were reviewed.
                             ally, professional publications typically serve as a pri-   Only major contributions were included in this
                             mary forum for defining appropriate focus for the           study. Introductory excerpts, editorial commen-
                             profession as well as providing guidelines for train-       taries, book reviews, and theme-based forwards were
                             ing professionals within the field.                         excluded. A total of 537 articles were examined.
                                This investigation included articles published in
                             professional school counseling journals. The estab-         Procedure
                             lishment of the American School Counselor                   Two review teams evaluated the articles. Review
                             Association (ASCA) in 1952 led to the development           teams were composed of a graduate student and fac-
                             of the first journal specifically devoted to the profes-    ulty member. All researchers had formal experience
                             sion of school counseling, The School Counselor. In         in the area of school counseling. Two reviewers ini-
                             keeping with the trend started by the NDEA in               tially conducted an independent review of each arti-
                             1958, a second journal, Elementary School Guidance          cle and categorized the articles. Their findings were
  Mental health was          and Counseling, was developed for school coun-              compared to determine agreement between the
                             selors. More recently, the ASCA merged the two              reviewers. Percent agreement was calculated on the
           defined as        previous journals into one, Professional School             initial reviews for each pair of raters (team one =
                             Counseling. Baker (1997) indicated a desire to main-        90%, team two = 88%). When there was disagree-
      addressing the         tain continuity in content and emphasis between the         ment between the initial reviewers on categorization
                             two journals while increasing the quality of manu-          of content, a third reviewer conducted an independ-
psychosocial needs of        scripts published. Professional School Counseling is        ent review to serve as a “tie-breaker.” Eight percent
                             the official publication of ASCA and, as such, serves       of the initial reviews required a third assessment for
  the student with a         as the gatekeeper of what is deemed important in            categorization. For all these latter cases, the third
                             the profession of school counseling. Articles pub-          reviewer’s categorization matched that of one of the
     primary focus on        lished in the journal are cited in other professional       two original reviewers.
                             journals, both nationally and internationally, as              All articles were reviewed in their entirety to cate-
  personal and social        indicative of the current issues, trends, and values in     gorize content. All articles identified for initial
                             the school counseling profession.                           review were included in the study and used to obtain
         functioning.           Given the current debate about educational               the reported results. The articles were categorized
                             achievement and mental health, it seemed important          according to the following categories: 1) mental
                             to look at the primary professional publications in         health only, 2) educational achievement only, 3)
                             the discipline to categorize trends in content around       both, and 4) neither.
                             educational achievement and mental health, over                Mental health only. Mental health was defined as
                             time, as described by The Education Trust.                  addressing the psychosocial needs of the student
                             Educational achievement is defined as the prepara-          with a primary focus on personal and social func-
                             tion of all students for academic success via directed,     tioning (House & Hayes, 2002). As such, articles in
                             academically focused activities designed to define,         this category included content only related to stu-
                             nurture, and accomplish academic goals (House &             dent mental health concerns such as depression, self-
                             Hayes, 2002). Mental health refers to meeting the           esteem, self-concept/identity, sexual identity, emo-
                             psychosocial needs of the student with an emphasis          tional coping skills, cognitive behavioral coping
                             on personal and social functioning (House &                 skills, suicidality, grief and loss, and interpersonal re-
                             Hayes). While both areas are necessary for student          lationship skills. Also included were articles address-
                             success, we were interested in identifying how these        ing theoretical approaches to mental health counsel-
                             two areas are reflected in the flagship journals for        ing. These included counseling theory, specific inter-
                             professional school counselors. A review of the pro-        ventions, therapeutic procedures, and dynamics of
                             fessional organization’s journals was seen as a way to      client- (i.e., students, parents) counselor relation-
                             empirically assess how the school counseling litera-        ships. In other words, the topics were specifically re-
                             ture reflects the model proposed by The Education           lated to counseling interactions among clients and
                             Trust.                                                      school counseling professionals, behavioral/emotion-
                                                                                         al issues addressed within counseling sessions, and
                                                                                         various methods/procedures used to assess and in-
                                                                                         tervene with students’ personal/social development.

 Number and Percentage of Articles Published by Each Journal

                                                     Content Categories
 Journals           Educational                  Mental Health               Both                Neither
                    n         %                  n        %                  n         %         n         %

 Elementary         29        25.4               48       42.1               22        19.2      15        13.1
 School Guidance
 and Counseling

 The School         29        18.1               63       39.4               28        17.5      40        25.0

 Professional      44         16.7             106        40.3               32        12.1      80        30.4
 School Counseling

 Total             102        18.9             217        40.4               82        15.2     135        25.1

   Educational achievement only. Educational               ly managed conflicts could have on student aca-
achievement was defined as the preparation of all          demic performance and classroom participation.               There seems to be a
students for academic success via directed, academi-       These articles did not solely focus either on the spe-
cally focused guidance activities designed to define,      cific interventions, psychological well-being of             consistent emphasis
nurture, and accomplish academic goals (House &            clients, and relationships between counselor and
Hayes, 2002). Articles in this category included           client or on the issues related to the academic and          on articles addressing
content only related to student educational achieve-       professional development of students. Rather, sig-
ment. Topics covered in this category addressed            nificant attention was given to the integration of           mental health
concerns with academic performance, school and             both mental health and education achievement per-
classroom participation, college/career preparation,       spectives. Articles identified as following this format      concerns in the
athletic motivation/participation, time manage-            were, therefore, categorized as relevant to both
ment, school compliance, mentoring, extracurricular        concepts of mental health and educational achieve-           professional journals.
activities, and minority/cultural academic success or      ment.
achievement. Also included were articles addressing           Neither. Articles were classified in this category if
the following: how counselors interact with student-       the content did not reflect either student mental
peer advisors; how parents and/or tutors can moni-         health or educational achievement issues. Such arti-
tor school-based performance; how collaborative            cles included content related to supervision of
teaching strategies can be used to impact the school       school counseling professionals, coordination of
environment; how counseling services influence cur-        services with other school personnel, coping with
riculum development; and how counselors can assess         work-related stressors, and discussion of administra-
academic inclusion needs of diverse and exceptional        tive issues. Trend surveys, issues of professional
children. In other words, these articles addressed         development, and accountability articles were also
how counselors themselves promote the academic             classified in this category. In other words, these top-
and professional development of students, how              ics were not directly related to counseling students
school counselors can work with students and               or meeting their educational needs but rather were
school personnel to promote academic success, and          procedural, training-based, or policy-focused. One
specific procedures and interventions used to              example of this category was an article that
address academic success.                                  addressed counselors’ use of computer software in
   Both. Articles were assigned to this category if the    order to improve upon the recordkeeping and
content was determined to reflect both student             assessment of services provided to clients. Such arti-
mental health and educational achievement issues.          cles did not contain information about how clients
For example, several articles addressed peer-related       could use computers to learn academic material,
conflicts and how counselors could work with chil-         prepare documents related to college/career place-
dren involved in such conflicts. However, the con-         ment, or take tests designed to address emotional
tent of these articles would not only discuss the feel-    issues.
ings and behaviors involved with student experi-
ences of conflict but also the impact that ineffective-

                                                                                                                  7:1 OCTOBER 2003 | ASCA   31
                             RESULTS                                                    DISCUSSION

                             A total of 537 articles were reviewed across the time      This study was designed to review articles published
                             span investigated. The total number of articles by         over the last 7 years in the flagship school counsel-
                             journal follows: Elementary School Guidance and            ing journals to determine how The Education Trust
                             Counseling (n = 114), The School Counselor (n =            National Initiative for Transforming School
                             160) and Professional School Counseling (n = 263).         Counseling is reflected in the school counseling pro-
                                Results (see Table) provide a summary of the arti-      fessional literature. All articles were reviewed to cat-
                             cles categorized by journal into the four categories:      egorize their content as either mental health, educa-
                             educational achievement only, mental health issues         tional achievement, both, or neither of these two
                             only, both content categories, and neither content         categories. Understanding the impact of profession-
                             categories. Elementary School Guidance and Coun-           al publications is important to understanding any
                             seling published 29 articles (25.4%) related to edu-       discipline (LeUnes, 1974), and journal content
                             cational achievement issues, and 48 articles (42.1%)       reflects historically what is seen as the appropriate
                             related to mental health issues. Twenty-two articles       emphasis within the profession.
                             (19.2%) addressed both educational achievement                Overall, the results of this study indicate there has
                             and mental health issues while 15 articles (13.1%)         been considerable consistency in content over the
                             addressed neither. The School Counselor published 29       last few years within the flagship journals for profes-
                             articles (18.1%) focusing on educational achieve-          sional school counselors. The highest percentage of
     There were fairly       ment and 63 articles (39.4%) focusing on mental            articles focused on mental health issues alone. There
                             health issues. Twenty-eight articles (17.5%) included      were fairly equivalent numbers of articles emphasiz-
equivalent numbers           both content categories while 40 (25%) included            ing educational achievement alone and articles
                             neither. Professional School Counseling published 44       simultaneously addressing educational achievement
            of articles      articles (16.7%) emphasizing educational achieve-          and mental health issues. These two categories com-
                             ment and 106 articles (40.3%) emphasizing mental           bined (i.e., education achievement and both) still
         emphasizing         health issues. Thirty-two articles (12.1%) focused on      account for less than the number of articles catego-
                             both content categories and 80 (30.4%) on neither.         rized as mental health only. Articles falling within
          educational           Articles in all three journals focused on mental        the neither category showed the most variability
                             health issues versus educational achievement at an         across journals, with Professional School Counseling
 achievement alone           approximately 2:1 ratio. Elementary School Guidance        accounting for the largest number of articles catego-
                             and Counseling and The School Counselor included a         rized in this category.
          and articles       fairly equivalent number of educational achievement           The results of this study are one objective measure
                             articles and articles including both educational           for mapping scholarly trends within the school
      simultaneously         achievement and mental health content. These two           counseling profession. There seems to be a consis-
                             journals also had a ratio of approximately 2:1 men-        tent emphasis on articles addressing mental health
     addressing both.        tal health only articles to both content area articles.    concerns in the professional journals. One possible
                             Professional School Counseling had a 2:1 ratio of edu-     explanation may be that this pattern reflects the
                             cation achievement to both content areas and a 3:1         types of manuscripts submitted to the journals.
                             ratio of mental health articles to both content areas.     Certainly, journal editors are limited by the number
                                Range in the percentage of articles from each           and focus of articles submitted for publication to the
                             journal in the first three content categories was fair-    journal. It should be noted that Professional School
                             ly consistent: educational achievement 25.4 to             Counseling does solicit a wide variety of manuscripts
                             18.1% (difference = 7.3), mental health 42.1 to            (see the Author Guidelines). A future study might
                             39.4% (difference = 2.7), and both 19.2 to 12.1%           assess the number of articles actually submitted in
                             (difference = 7.1). Articles falling within neither cat-   the various categories to ascertain trends in submis-
                             egory showed the widest range across journals: 13.1        sions and acceptance rates.
                             to 30% (difference = 16.9). The School Counselor and          Another explanation may be that mental health
                             Professional School Counseling published almost            articles reflect the needs and professional develop-
                             twice as many articles falling within the neither cat-     ment interest of practitioners. Specifically, school
                             egory as compared to Elementary School Guidance            counselors continue to express concerns about the
                             and Counseling. Across journals, the category with         increasing level of emotional and behavioral prob-
                             the greatest number of articles published was Mental       lems evidenced in the students with whom they are
                             Health, followed by articles categorized as Neither,       working. While the criticisms of The Education
                             followed by the Educational Achievement category,          Trust are a wake-up call to the profession, school
                             and finally articles categorized as Both.                  counselors pragmatically need to know how to con-
                                                                                        duct suicide assessments, make accurate diagnostic
                                                                                        assessments, and develop appropriate intervention

plans within school settings. It will be important for   and contributors to the literature. The professional
the professional journal to continue to provide stu-     literature can be used to foster a professional identi-
dents and counselors with article content and            ty among school counseling students, one that inte-
resources for developing their skills and identity as    grates both a mental health and educational achieve-
professional school counselors.                          ment perspective. Integration of these two aspects is
   However, support for the education achievement        what separates school counselors from other profes-
model stems from the increasing achievement gap          sionals practicing in the schools. In an era where
between poor students and students of color and          school counselors are struggling to maintain their
other American students (Education Trust, 2001;          uniqueness while finding their jobs being replaced
Jencks & Phillips, 1998; National Center for             by other professionals, it is imperative that we clear-
Education Statistics, 2001; Reyes, Wagstaff, &           ly define ourselves as distinctive from other profes-
Fusarelli, 1999). School counselors are being            sionals within the school system and that we are
encouraged, through the efforts of The Education         committed to the academic success of all students.
Trust, to serve as mentors, personal support systems,
and advocates for disadvantaged and minority stu-        LIMITATIONS OF THIS STUDY
dents within the educational setting. Additionally, it
has been suggested that in order to best serve these     These findings are limited to the journals included
students’ needs, school counselors need to play a key    for study, and the journals reviewed were restricted
role in school reform efforts (House & Hayes,            to those identified as the “flagship” journals of the
2002). Articles reflecting this content would have       school counseling profession. School counselors
been included in the education achievement or both       readily have access to and use other journals not
content categories, and these categories were            included in this review as resources, for example the
emphasized less than mental health alone. The chal-      Journal of Counseling and Development. Future
lenge for our profession is to integrate this new        investigations should similarly examine the content
vision into existing school counseling programs.         of other publications and journals widely available to
   The results of this study have implications as well   school counselors. Second, the authors of this study
for school counselors in the areas of scholarship and    made a broad categorization of the content of arti-
professional identity development. Issues of scholar-    cles and emphasized the categories of mental health
ship are central to shaping the direction of the pro-    and education achievement. This broad categoriza-
fession. The results of this study would suggest that    tion did not address specific content within each cat-
consumers of the literature (i.e., school counselor      egory and might have obscured important informa-
trainees, school counselors, school counselor educa-     tion. This is particularly true for articles falling with-
tors) would find more articles focused exclusively on    in the Neither category. By focusing on the two
mental health issues vs. education achievement avail-    broad categories of mental health and educational
able to shape the nature of classroom discussions        achievement, this review may neglect other relevant
and professional development. The ASCA national          content areas for the role and function of school
model for school counseling programs (ASCA,              counselors. It would be important that further
2003) offers suggestions for integrating these two       research evaluate the content of articles included in
areas. Consequently, the question should not be          the Neither category to identify other salient vari-
whether or not to emphasize mental health issues         ables of school counseling. One could argue, for
over educational achievement issues, but how to          example, that articles focused on issues such as staff
integrate these issues within our research and article   development and accountability are indirectly relat-
submissions to address the needs of all students in      ed to the identity of school counselors.
the context of the national model for school coun-          Finally, ASCA’s national model of school counsel-
seling programs (ASCA). Given the significance of        ing programs (ASCA, 2003) supports the integra-
these two content areas to the new vision of school      tion of both mental health and education achieve-
counselors and their relevance to practice, it will be   ment to better serve the needs of the individual child
important to integrate these content areas in the lit-   or specific populations of children. The national
erature published within our flagship journal.           model supports school counseling programs that are
   The results also have implications for school coun-   about: counseling, leadership, assessment, technolo-
selor preparation programs. Students in school           gy, managing resources, teaming, collaboration,
counselor preparation programs are in the process of     data-driven decisions, and advocacy. Future theoret-
identity formation. As such, they rely heavily on the    ical and research articles published in Professional
professional literature for skill development and        School Counseling should reflect the integration of
identity formation. School counselor preparation         mental health and educational achievement in order
program faculty members should continue to               to meet the needs of the whole child within the
encourage their students to be avid consumers of         school system. This integrated perspective would

                                                                                                                  7:1 OCTOBER 2003 | ASCA   33
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