Training School Counselors as Developmental Advocates

Article excerpt

Counselor educators continue to debate the persistent questions of the role and function of the school counselor. School counselor education faculty can address the issue of the school counselor's role by using contemporary developmental research to train counseling students to serve as developmental advocates. The primary role of a developmental advocate is to promote positive student developmental outcomes and the research identified types of environments that nurture those outcomes (J. Galassi & P. Akos, in press-a). The authors present a training philosophy, a summary of selected developmental research, and curricular examples that demonstrate a programmatic focus on Developmental Advocacy.


School counseling is a relatively new profession; yet during its evolution, school counseling has undergone several shifts in focus. School counseling is actually a product of school reform (Herr, 2002). Throughout the reform initiatives in the twentieth century, an obvious strength had been school counseling's ability to adjust and meet the needs of a dynamic society. A prime example is the shift from vocational guidance to developmental counseling as the primary focus of school counseling. This flexibility, although useful, also creates challenges in establishing a consistent role, providing a strong research base, and keeping training programs current.

Several authors (e.g., Baker, 2001b; Myrick, 1997; Schmidt, 2003) have reviewed the influences and shifts in the practice of school counseling, including vocational guidance, psychometrics, client-centered counseling, and developmental guidance. The 1980s witnessed a shift toward competency or results-based models (Herr, 2001). Most recently, the American School Counseling Association's (ASCA) National Standards (Campbell & Dahir, 1997) and National Model of School Counseling (ASCA, 2002) provided a significant elaboration on the current standard of comprehensive developmental school guidance programs (Gysbers & Henderson, 2000). Although these practice recommendations are promoted nationally by ASCA, school counseling reform is still locally directed and locally controlled (Hayes, Dagley, & Horne, 1996). States still dictate varied licensure requirements, and many school district supervisors or school building administrators set the school counselor role (Fitch, Newby, Ballestero, & Marshall, 2001) based on local needs and, at times, naive perceptions of what school counselors can do.

Currently, the reform efforts within school counseling are also being affected by the passage of the federal law No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). The act requires that educators be held accountable for student academic development, with accountability being defined in terms of student performance exceeding clearly defined scores on standardized tests. As such, adjusting to this reform effort necessitates that school counselors play a greater role in student academic performance and skill development and that they be able to document tangible outcomes in these areas.

Whereas various authors (e.g., Borders, 2002; Gysbers & Henderson, 2000; Lapan, 2001; Paisley, 2001; Sink, 2002) have detailed the trends in the practice of school counseling, less attention has been directed to examining the evolution of school counselor training. The creation of the American Personnel and Guidance Association in 1952 and the passage of the National Defense Education Act in 1958 represented initial strides in standardizing the training of school counselors (Baker, 200 lb). These events resulted in an increase in the number of school counselors and counselor education programs. By the 1970s, developmental guidance and a focus on careers gained prominence in school counseling and led many to advocate for a services approach (e.g., a focus on function) to school counseling (Baker, 2001a). In 1978, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) was formed, and CACREP has promulgated standards for school counselor training. …