The Application of Counseling Psychology in the Field of School Psychology: Recent Experiences of Three School Psychology Students
Maynard, Angelina, Rouse, Lynnika, Monk-McCullough, Jessica, National Association of School Psychologists. Communique
The multifacetedrole of school psychologists often requires these professionals to provide individual, group, and family counseling. C ounseling is an important domain in the training and practice of school psychology. School psychologists work with students who face a number of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and trauma. Thus, it is important for school psychology professionals to obtain an adequate amount of training and knowledge regarding counseling interventions. However, given the already vast amount of content training programs are required to expose students to, it can be difficult to provide the training in counseling that school psychologists really need (Mellott, 2007).
The authors of this article all received master's degrees in counseling psychology before pursuing graduate degrees in school psychology. They have found their backgrounds in counseling quite valuable in working with students, parents, andteachers in their roles as school psychology graduate students. In this article, the authors will describe how their own backgrounds in counseling have helped them in the field of school psychology and will provide recommendations for gaining more knowledge and training for school psychology students and professionals who do not have similar backgrounds.
ANGELINA MAYNARD'S STORY
My original decision to pursue a master's degree in counseling psychology stemmed from my desire to learn intervention techniques for children (e.g., anger management, coping strategies, and communication skills). To my surprise, everything from my counseling program is applicable to school psychology. As we all know, school psychologists have many different roles within schools, such as consultant, interventionist, and assessor. Those basic counseling skills are useful in many activities, from simple teacher consultation to leading an admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) meeting. Knowledge in basic counseling skills is crucial for graduate students in their professional development as competent future practitioners.
Most of my previous counseling clients disclosed that the most important thing they had gained from therapy was the sense of being heard. It is the feeling of being valued and respected that was empowering in their journey. The same approach can be used when working with families, teachers, and students in school, because all need to feel respected in order to fully engage in collaborative work within the school. My counseling background prepared me with skills necessary to become a well-balanced future school psychologist.
LYNNIKA ROUSE'S STORY
I always knew that I wanted to help people in some way. My friends would often come to me and ask for my advice and I would happily oblige. Eventually, I decided counseling would be the best field for me. When I began my journey in the counseling program, I quickly learned that it was not about advice. Counseling was about listening to the client and helping them help themselves. I learned the importance of rapport building and not to just listen, but to listen empathically. Most of my clients just so happened to be children and teenagers, and I was fortunate enough to do some family counseling as well. Little did I know these skills would come in handy when I decided to continue my education in the field of school psychology.
I noticed that the skills I had acquired allowed me to easily establish and build rapport with students, parents, and teachers. This skill made it easier to move past my nervousness (from being a student in the program) and to connectwith them. Another counseling skill that I found to be beneficial during my graduate school journey has been the skill of empathie listening, the ability to reflect and respond to the adults in my cases often helped me convey that my intentions were to assist them and ultimately help the child. Any skill that improves the relationship with the teachers, parents, and students can only help ease the process of ensuring necessary services are provided for the students. Fortunately for me, my training in counseling has enhanced what I am learning in school psychology and will make me an even better practitioner.
JESSICA MONK-MCCULLOUGH'S STORY
In my experience as a school psychology graduate student, I have found my training and experience as a counselor to be quite valuable. In my counseling training program, I received training and experience in multiple modes of counseling, including counseling adults, family counseling, and couples counseling. These experiences have especially helped me in working with parents, teachers, and families in schools. I especially feel that my training in family counseling has helped me in practicum settings in coordinating care between students and their families. The family counseling skills that I learned have enabled me to help engage parents more in the process of helping their children, which can help improve therapeutic outcomes. As a counselor, I worked with children and parents in a multitude of settings, which enabled me to hone my skills and confidence in working with challenging cases and situations. My experience as a counselor has also given me the extra knowledge and skills necessary tohandle unexpected crisis situations that school psychologists often face in the schools.
Overall, I feel that my skills as an active listener, in addition to other counseling skills I learned, have helped me in becoming a more competent professional in the school psychology field. Because of my training and experience in counseling, I feel comfortable with developing effective counseling interventions as well as collaborating with families and other professionals in schools. I feel that my additional training in counseling will enable me to be a well-rounded school psychology professional.
School psychology as a field emphasizes a collaborative approach in working with parents, teachers, and students. One of the drawbacks of not directly working with the families is the lack ofknowledge of their family systems at home. Counselors are trained to conceptualize problems holistically through a systemic viewpoint when working with families. Such abilities enable them to understand different stages for appropriate level of intervention.
The authors' stories have expressed a collective theme of identifying a previous counseling background as beneficial in school psychology service delivery. Those basic counseling skills enablethem to establishbetterrapport with others within the schoolbecause they are able to conceptualize the problem holistically and to implement more counseling-related interventions. We believe our counseling backgrounds enhanced our ability to work with others in school, and we strongly encourage those without counseling training to seek professional development experiences that develop these interpersonal skills.
COUNSELING RESOURCES AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS
School psychology students and professionals who do not have backgrounds in the counseling field can further their knowledge in counseling in a number of ways:
* School psychologists can find training opportunities in counseling through the NASP website, annual convention, and summer conferences. In addition, members may access online counseling related continuing professional development (CPD) modules at httpV/www.nasponline.org/profdevel/cpdmodules/index.aspx.
* School psychology students can seek counseling opportunities during practicum and internship (e.g., observing actual sessions or coleading groups with supervisors). Prior knowledge of the availability of counseling services at your school district is important in guiding your search for placement options.
* Graduate students may consider taking additional counseling course credits during training from universities' counseling departments (e.g., counseling psychology, family science, and social work).
* "Visit the websites of national, state, and regional counseling associations, which offer regular training and conference opportunities in a variety of formats and topics.
* Graduate students and other school psychologists can also gain counseling knowledge through online training opportunities for professional continuing education (CEU). Visit the following site: http://www.ceu-hours.com/counselingceu.html.
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ANGELINA MAYNARD and LYNNIKA ROUSE are fourth year doctoral students in the school psychology program at Texas Woman's University. JESSICA MONK-MCCULLOUGH completed all her specialist level courses and started her school-based internship at Little Elm Independent School District. Their practice interests include early childhood issues and adolescent students and their families. The authors would like to acknowledge the support and encouragement of their professors, Drs. Angela Mitchell and Kimberly Booker, for the development of this article.…
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Publication information: Article title: The Application of Counseling Psychology in the Field of School Psychology: Recent Experiences of Three School Psychology Students. Contributors: Maynard, Angelina - Author, Rouse, Lynnika - Author, Monk-McCullough, Jessica - Author. Magazine title: National Association of School Psychologists. Communique. Volume: 39. Issue: 4 Publication date: December 2010. Page number: 36. © National Association of School Psychologists Oct 2008. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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