Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Spirituality and Comprehensive School Counseling Programs

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Spirituality and Comprehensive School Counseling Programs

Article excerpt

Since spirituality is fundamental to human functioning, in this article, the author makes the case for including students' spirituality within the context of comprehensive school counseling programs. To do so, the article (a) defines spirituality in way that would be appropriate for open discourse in public schools; (b) discusses the theoretical grounding of the proposal; and (c) provides applications to ASCA's (2003) National Model in terms of its developmental standards, responsive services, large-group guidance, and counselors' behaviors.

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      The child's "house has many mansions"--including
   a spiritual life that grows, changes,
   responds constantly to the other lives, that in
   their sum, make up the individual we call by a
   name and know by a story that is all his, all hers.
   (Coles, 1990, p. 308)

During my visits to school districts around the country, I have often heard certain administrators intimating that school counselors' contributions to the education of children and youth are of lesser import than those of teachers. In recent years, however, thanks in part to the widespread implementation of programmatic approaches to school guidance and counseling, anecdotal evidence indicates that this unfounded perception is changing for the better (Sink, 2005a). Comprehensive school counseling programs (CSCPs) have evolved into well-articulated organizational frameworks that will successfully guide school counseling practice for years to come (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2003; Gysbers & Henderson, 2000, 2005). At their heart, CSCPs emphasize that as society and families continue to change, counselors can no longer rely on outdated, reactive interventions focused mostly on students at risk for school failure or those heading toward further education or training. CSCPs have given counselors a holistic and prevention-oriented structure to assist all students with more effective services, while at the same time supporting the teaching-learning activities going on in the school. Research compiled over the past few decades has shown that counselors operating within a programmatic framework are effectively supporting the welfare and development of students and their caregivers as well as enhancing school climate (see Borders & Drury, 1992; Lapan, 2005; Whiston, 2003, for reviews).

Coupled with this higher educational profile and demands for accountability, school counselors have added to their list of important student-centered responsibilities (Cobia & Henderson, 2003; Erford, House, & Martin, 2003; Sink, 2005a), while attempting to reduce non counseling activities (ASCA, 2003). Contemporary school counselors function in collaboration with the educational system by offering assistance, direction, and instruction to students and their families. Beyond ASCA's (1999b) core duties (counseling, consultation, coordination, plus classroom guidance), recent publications indicate that school counselors also should be (a) documenting more thoroughly their work through formal and informal evaluations (e.g., ASCA, 1997, 2003; Lapan, 2001), (b) serving more effectively a diverse school population (e.g., ASCA, 1999a, 2003; Lee, 2001), (c) integrating technological advances into their practices (Sabella, 2000), (d) helping create caring communities of learners which enhance school climate (Lapan, 2001; Sink & Rubel, 2001; Sink, 2002b, 2005b), and (e) fostering healthy student development in areas seemingly more peripheral to academics (e.g., ASCA, 1999b, 2003; Myrick, 2003; Ripley, Erford, Dahir, & Eschbach, 2003; Sink, 2002a, 2002b).

The last area mentioned above is at the center of what K-12 school counselors do each day. Until the past decade or so, the "legitimate" purview of developmentally focused CSCPs had been restricted to these fairly circumscribed domains: academic-educational, career-occupational, and personal-social. …

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