An Exploration of School Counselors' Demands and Resources: Relationship to Stress, Biographic, and Caseload Characteristics by ProQuest

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The study in this article examined the relationship of school counselors' reports of demands and resources in their work environment to perceived stress, biographic factors, and caseload characteristics. Participants were 227 school counselors in Texas. Paperwork requirements and size of caseload were rated the most demanding aspects of their job, and other counselors were rated as the most helpful resource by participants. The perceived equality or inequality of work demands and resources also was assessed. School counselors classified in the higher-demand group reported having higher perceived stress, being less likely to remain in the profession the next year, and having higher caseload percentages of students with disabilities, lower academic performance, and poor attendance. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

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									 Christopher McCarthy,
 Ph.D., Valerie Van Horn
        Kerne, M.A., and
                              An Exploration of School
  Nicolina A. Calfa, M.C.,
  are with the University
                              Counselors’ Demands and
      of Texas at Austin.
 E-mail: chris.mccarthy@
          mail.utexas.edu
                              Resources: Relationship to Stress,
    Richard G. Lambert,
         Ph.D., is with the
                              Biographic, and Caseload
     University of North
  Carolina at Charlotte.
      Michele Guzmán,
                              Characteristics
         Ph.D., is with the   The study in this article examined the relationship of         Chronic stress can be especially problematic, causing
   University of Texas at     school counselors’ reports of demands and resources in         emotional and health problems at the personal level
                   Austin.    their work environment to perceived stress, biographic         (Sapolsky, 2004), as well as occupational burnout
                              factors, and caseload characteristics. Participants were       (Lambie, 2007) and attrition at the professional
                              227 school counselors in Texas. Paperwork requirements         level (DeMato & Curcio, 2004; Moracco, Butcke,
                              and size of caseload were rated the most demanding             & McEwen, 1984).
                              aspects of their job, and other counselors were rated as          Even though school counselors face high
                              the most helpful resource by participants. The perceived       demands and potentially excessive stress levels, it is
                              equality or inequality of work demands and resources           clear that most find their jobs rewarding. DeMato
                              also was assessed. School counselors classified in the         and Curcio (2004) found that approximately 90% of
                              higher-demand group reported having higher per-                elementary school counselors they surveyed in
                              ceived stress, being less likely to remain in the profession   Virginia were satisfied with their job. Baggerly and
                              the next year, and having higher caseload percentages          Osborn (2006) found that well over 80% of the pub-
                              of students with disabilities, lower academic perform-         lic school counselors they studied in Florida across
                              ance, and poor attendance.                                     all levels (elementary, middle, and high school) were
                                                                                             very or somewhat satisfied with their jobs, though


                              S
                                   chool counseling has evolved from a focus on              approximately 90% reported their jobs had become
                                   vocational development and responsive services            more stressful in the past 2 years.
                                   (Morrissette, 2000) to a proactive and program-              A theoretically grounded understanding of the
                              matic philosophy closely aligned with the missions of          risk factors and processes that contribute to school
                              schools (Dahir, 2009). The development of the pro-             counselor stress is necessary to help these profes-
                              fession is closely connected to changes in the educa-          sionals continue to function effectively in meeting
                              tional system as a whole, particularly the current era         the challenges of today’s schools, to provide the best
                              of standards-based education (Dahir & Stone, 2009;             services possible to students, and to prevent the field
                              Kolodinsky, Draves, Schroder, Lindsey, & Zlatev,               from losing capable individuals to professional
                              2009). The ASCA National Model® (American                      exhaustion and burnout (Wilkerson & Bellini,
                              School Counselor Association, 2005) lists the many             2006). The theoretical approach for this study was
                              duties necessary for school counselors to fulfill their        based on the work of Lazarus and Folkman (1984),
                              mission, among them service delivery (such as group            who were the first to suggest a transactional model
                              and individual counseling), collaboration with                 of stress based on the notion that when life demands
                              teachers, interpreting tests, and designing student            are encountered, a reflexive cognitive balancing act
                              academic programs. The ASCA National Model also                ensues, in which perceived demands are weighed
                              identifies potential problems associated with assign-          against the resources one has for coping with de-
                              ing school counselors inappropriate responsibilities           hmands. According to Lazarus and Folkman’s
                              such as administering student discipline, handling             model, when people perceive that they do not have
                              master scheduling, and doing clerical duties.                  the resources to cope with a given demand, the
                                 Given their m
								
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