Experiences of Implementing a Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Program at the Elementary Level

By Johnson, Glenda; Nelson, Judith et al. | Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

Experiences of Implementing a Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Program at the Elementary Level


Johnson, Glenda, Nelson, Judith, Henriksen, Richard C., Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research


School counselors face many challenges implementing a Comprehensive Developmental Guidance and Counseling Program ([CDGCP] Dahir, Burnham, & Stone, 2009). This case study explored the experiences of a program director's, an administrator's, and three school counselors' implementation of a statewide CDGCP at the elementary level in a large suburban school district in Southeast Texas. The themes of differences in knowledge of CDGCP, benefits, time constraints, role inconsistencies, and moving toward a fully implemented CDGCP emerged from participants' responses. Implications and recommendations for other districts school counseling programs are provided.

Key words: school counselor, comprehensive developmental guidance and counseling program, elementary counselor

Elementary Level

The implementation of a comprehensive developmental guidance and counseling program (CDGCP) allows counselors to deliver services to all students systematically and in a develop mentally appropriate way. Sink (2005) demonstrated that when a model is implemented, academic achievement of students increases. While research studies provide evidence that many counselors nationwide have implemented a model (Lapan, Gysbers, & Petroski, 2001; Martin, Carey, & DeCoster, 2009; Sink & Stroh, 2003), there are still too many school counselors not ready to embrace and implement a CDGCP (Dahir, Burnham, & Stone, 2009). Exploring school counselors' perceptions of implementing a comprehensive program may aide in understanding counselors' experiences of implementing a CDGCP.

Lewis and Borunda (2006) call for school counselors to share their lived stories of what works in a variety of mntexts such as articles in professional journals and web sites. Additionally, Dahir, Burham & Stone (2009) stated that if the American School Counseling Association (ASCA) National Model (2005) and state comprehensive guidance and counseling programs are to change the way school counselors practice, close attention must be paid to the opinions and experiences of school counselors. In this study, we explored the experiences of three school counselors, a campus administrator, and a guidance director on implementing Texas Education Agency's (TEA) A Model Comprehensive, Developmental Guidance & Counseling Program for Texas Public Schools (2004). Due to a scarcity of information relevant to the experiences of school counselors implementing a CDGCP, we believe that our study will add to the knowledge base in school counseling program planning and management. This information will be significant for school leaders including counselors, administrators, and directors of guidance as they develop programs that meet the needs of all students.

Comprehensive Developmental Guidance and Counseling Programs

Comprehensive developmental guidance and counseling programs operate under the premise that systematically delivering planned developmental curricula and interventions to all students is far superior to delivering services that are reactive and randomly prescribed (Martin, Carey, & DeCoster, 2009). School counselors who implement a CDGCP invite the school, parents, and other stakeholders to share in the responsibility of meeting the needs of all students. Although many different guidance models are available, this literature review will focus on counselors' use of A Model Comprehensive, Developmental Counseling Program for Texas Public Schools (TEA, 2004).

A Model Comprehensive, Developmental Counseling Program for Texas Public Schools.

The guide, A Model Comprehensive, Developmental Counseling Program for Texas Public Schools, presents a model for all schools in the state of Texas upon which to build counseling programs. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Counseling Association (TCA) recommended this guide for use by Texas public schools to assist in complying with Texas Education Code 33.005-33. …

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