Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Counseling the Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Student: Meeting School Counselors' Professional Development Needs

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Counseling the Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Student: Meeting School Counselors' Professional Development Needs

Article excerpt

This study used qualitative methods to investigate the challenges and professional development needs of elementary and secondary school counselors who work with linguistically and culturally diverse students and families, and their perceptions of the impact of a 9-month professional development program focused on improving school counselors' multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skill.

**********

In schools across the United States, linguistically and culturally diverse (LCD) students face dilemmas stemming from racial, ethnic, linguistic, and religious discrimination; language barriers; and stereotyping. Incongruities between LCD students' home cultures and values and those of the school can result in these students disengaging from school and eventually dropping out. Linguistically diverse students may also experience academic problems due to language barriers and lack of academic preparation in their native language. Though school counselors are called on to address the diverse needs of LCD students, they frequently do so without support or the requisite educational preparation. Professional development is one means of providing school counselors with the knowledge and skill necessary to counsel LCD students, parents, and other family members effectively.

An important consideration in designing effective multicultural professional development programming is counselors' perceptions of the challenges they face in their work with diverse students. Despite its importance, we know very little about counselors' perceived challenges in this area. Nor do we know the kind of professional development school counselors believe they need to help them meet the challenges they face in counseling LCD students. Finally, assessments of professional development efforts designed to address the challenges counselors face in their work with LCD students and families are critical. Studies that address these three areas will contribute to the development of a knowledge base on which inservice multicultural professional development programs for school counselors can be premised.

A primary purpose of this study is to describe the challenges and professional development needs of school counselors who work with linguistically and culturally diverse students in K-12 public schools. A second purpose is to describe the school counselors' perceptions of the impact of a 9-month multicultural professional development effort.

CULTURALLY COMPETENT COUNSELING: CHALLENGES FOR SCHOOL COUNSELORS

Research in the area of multiculturalism and school counseling has focused on counselors' perceptions of their own multicultural competence. Five underlying factors appear to be influential in school counselors' perceptions of themselves as multiculturally competent practitioners. These factors are an understanding of racial identity development, facility with multicultural terminology, multicultural awareness, multicultural knowledge, and multicultural skills (Holcomb-McCoy, 2000). Additional research indicates that school counselors feel competent in multicultural awareness and understanding of multicultural terminology, but perceive themselves as incompetent in racial identity development and multicultural knowledge (Holcomb-McCoy, 2001). Lack of knowledge of racial identity development is particularly problematic because "racial identity development has been linked to interpreting student behaviors and interactions" (Holcomb-McCoy, 2001, p. 199). Findings from these studies point to the importance of ensuring that information on racial identity development and development of multicultural knowledge are included in multicultural training.

In addition to their work with individual students and families, school counselors are frequently asked to assume responsibility for creating culturally accepting environments in their schools. Research undertaken to determine how well school counselors promoted and provided students with opportunities to develop multicultural awareness found that though most schools set aside special days to expose students to various cultures, there were not many ongoing programs to promote multicultural awareness. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.