School Counseling Departmental Web Sites: What Message Do We Send?

Article excerpt

School counselors have struggled to define their roles for years. The use of technology has been discussed as one method for disseminating information about school counselor roles. Content from 456 school counseling departmental Web sites was examined and results showed that the majority of Web sites did not contain information pertaining to school counselor roles, comprehensive, developmental counseling programs, or other current trends in school counseling. Suggestions for using departmental Web sites for school counselor self-advocacy are provided.

**********

One cannot peruse more than a few issues of Professional School Counseling without encountering an article addressing the changes that have occurred in the school counseling profession over time. Shifts from vocational guidance to comprehensive, developmental counseling programs as well as influences from the Education Trust (2003) and various legislative mandates (e.g., No Child Left Behind) have likely contributed to the ambiguous role definitions that school counselors have struggled with for years (Murray, 1995). Undoubtedly, individual preferences balanced with administrative and programmatic expectations also result in variation in school counselor roles. The inconsistency in actual and expected roles for school counselors has been well documented in the literature.

Several researchers have examined how closely the roles school counselors engage in match the roles recommended by professional organizations. For example, Carter (1993) found consistency between the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) role statements and the roles in which elementary school counselors were engaging. More recently, Burnham and Jackson (2000) surveyed 80 school counselors representing all grade levels and found the majority of participants engaged in roles (e.g., small-group counseling, consultation) recommended by both Myrick (1993) and Gysbers and Henderson (2000). Burnham and Jackson also found, however, that participants engaged in a range of nonguidance activities such as scheduling, filing paperwork, and duplicating materials.

School counselor involvement in nonguidance activities is not uncommon (Napierkowski & Parsons, 1995), and school counselors often must manage external pressures to engage in certain roles that may be inconsistent with their desired roles (Lambie & Williamson, 2004). Napierkowski and Parsons reviewed literature addressing school counselor frustrations in relation to both unclear role definitions and changing job descriptions and reported that school counselors are often not permitted to engage in activities they viewed vital. Research suggests some administrators endorse school counselor involvement in activities that would be classified as nonguidance. In a survey of 86 preservice school administrators, Fitch, Newby, Ballestero, and Marshall (2001) found that while participants did endorse counseling and consultation roles as important, they also highly supported school counselor involvement in roles related to discipline, student records, and registration. Additionally, Amatea and Clark (2005) found school administrators' conceptions of the school counselor ranged from viewing them as quasi-administrators to engaging them as collaborative school leaders. The findings reflected historical trends in school counseling (e.g., traditional guidance and advising role, current emphasis on leadership and advocacy).

School counselors confronting resistance from administrators and other school personnel must "learn to influence and change that inhibiting system so they can more readily perform their duties and serve the students better" (Napierkowski & Parsons, 1995, p. 368). At a minimum, school counselors need to be able to "talk about their roles" (Clark & Amatea, 2004, p. 138), and communicating with a school principal has been suggested as an effective method for clarifying school counselor roles (Murray, 1995). …