Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Advocacy Competencies for Professional School Counselors

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Advocacy Competencies for Professional School Counselors

Article excerpt

The American School Counselor Association National Model describes advocacy as a key role for professional school counselors, and numerous advocacy activities are presented in the model. Several authors have contributed to the literature on advocacy; however, the literature and the National Model do not delineate the dispositions, knowledge, and skills required for advocacy. The purpose of this article is to present and describe school counselor advocacy competencies recent& introduced in a book by Brown and Trusty (2005).


Although advocacy has a long tradition in the counseling profession (Kiselica & Robinson, 2001), school counselors' roles as advocates have only recently received widespread attention (Baker & Gerler, 2004). For example, articles by Cooley (1998), Stone (2000), and Kuranz (2002) address the need for school counselor advocacy. In addition, Bailey, Getch, & Chen-Hayes (2003) and Osborne et al. (1998) focus on the need to teach advocacy skills in counselor education programs. Perhaps most notably, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA, 2003) National Model devotes particular attention to advocacy. In this model, advocacy is one of the themes that underpin all of the activities in which school counselors engage.

According to ASCA, advocacy is a broad and multifaceted process. The ASCA National Model states, "Advocating for the academic success of every student is a key role of school counselors and places them as leaders in promoting school reform" (ASCA, 2003, p. 24). According to the National Model, school counselors' advocacy efforts are aimed at (a) eliminating barriers impeding students' development; (b) creating opportunities to learn for all students; (c) ensuring access to a quality school curriculum; (d) collaborating with others within and outside the school to help students meet their needs, and (e) promoting positive, systemic change in schools. Therefore, advocacy involves leadership, collaboration, and systemic change.

Advocacy also occurs on multiple levels. School counselors often advocate for particular students and their families (e.g., Downing & Harrison, 1990; Trusty, 1996). Advocacy efforts frequently are aimed at helping particular groups of students (e.g., Cooley, 1998; Stone, 2000). School counselors advocate for better school counseling programs, better schools, and more effective community resources (House & Hayes, 2002; Kuranz, 2002). They also advocate for the school counseling profession and for social justice on local, state, regional, national, and international levels (e.g., Eriksen, 1997; Kiselica & Robinson, 2001).

The counseling literature attests to the broad conceptualization of advocacy. For example, in Eriksen's (1997) definition, generating research on the efficacy of counseling is advocacy. Myers, Sweeney, and White (2002) noted that promoting counselors' credibility in the public's eye is a salient advocacy task. Many of the multicultural counseling competencies (Sue, Arrendondo, & McDavis, 1992) involve advocacy, and advocacy is a main means for addressing discrimination (Brown, 1988; Ponterotto, 1991; Trusty, 2002).

The recent literature reveals the broad scope of advocacy, but it provides only minimal direction toward a coherent conceptualization (see Myers et al., 2002). Several authors (Bailey et al., 2003; Eriksen, 1997; Fiedler, 2000; House & Hayes, 2002; Kuranz, 2002) have provided definitions and descriptions of advocacy; and although authors vary in conceptualization, a common theme is that advocacy involves identifying unmet needs and taking actions to change the circumstances that contribute to the problem or inequity. Authors also agree that advocacy requires an altruistic disposition. The ASCA National Model (2003) provides much information about the goals of advocacy, but it provides little insight into the advocacy process and it takes only first steps in delineating the advocacy role. …

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