Research Methods in School Counseling: A Summary for the Practitioner

Article excerpt

This article summarizes, for the practitioner, the key "take home" points of the 10 articles included in this special issue on school counseling research. Professional school counselors must be astute consumers of research in order to sift through the professional research literature for the practical interventions that will lead to showing they make a difference in students' lives. In addition to understanding relevant research, school counselors are increasingly being asked to provide accountability data that document their impact on student behavioral and academic performance. The information included in these articles is very timely and provides a rich resource for school counselors. The summaries hopefully will motivate the reader to explore the full articles for the rest of the story.

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The collection of articles in this special issue on research methods in school counseling summarizes a vast amount of knowledge that has been specially focused on helping school counselors to glean "what works." A few dominant themes emerge from the 10 articles: (a) One premise of school reform is that all students can achieve and school counselors are in a strategic position to advocate for students and to be leaders in helping students succeed. (b) No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation has placed an increased emphasis on quantitative evaluation of academic achievement, school safety, attendance, and graduation rates. (c) The ASCA National Model[R] (American School Counselor Association, 2005) in conjunction with NCLB stresses that school counselors need to conduct research on effectiveness and use empirical research to make decisions. (d) In order for school counselors to demonstrate to administrators and their community that they are essential to creating the kinds of learning environments that support academic, social/emotional, and workplace success, they need research that shows the services they provide impact key student outcomes. To do this, they need information about which interventions have been found most effective and knowledge about program evaluation. Below are highlights from each of the 10 articles contained in this special issue on research.

EDER AND WHISTON, AND DOES PSYCHOTHERAPY HELP SOME STUDENTS?

Eder and Whiston's article reviews psychotherapy research with the goal of informing school counselors and assisting them in either referring students for appropriate intervention or providing services within the school. The article shows how valuable research is for practitioners to read and conduct, for it provides research-based recommendations for designing their programs, services, and activities for students.

The authors begin by defining the scope of the problem: A significant number of children and adolescents experience emotional and/or behavioral problems that frequently interfere with learning. They point to several studies that have found a similar range (18%-22%) for children and adolescents who have diagnosable psychiatric disorders. In addition, the National Institute of Mental Health (1999) found that 1 in 10 children and adolescents suffer from mental illness severe enough to cause some level of impairment, yet fewer than 1 in 5 receive treatment. School counselors will find encouraging news from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1999), which promotes cost-effective, proactive systems of behavioral support, at the school level, that emphasize prevention.

The National Institute of Mental Health (1999) concluded that without intervention, schoolwork may suffer, normal family and peer relationships may be disrupted, and violent acts may occur. When school personnel in 1,402 schools were asked in a recent survey about who is the most knowledgeable of mental health services, Romer and McIntosh (2005) found the top three answers were school counselor, 49.1%; school psychologist, 25.7%; and school social worker, 11.2%.

The most frequent psychiatric disorders are anxiety, conduct, oppositional-defiant, and attention deficit. …