Academic journal article Education

School Counselor Role Statements: Fact or Fiction

Academic journal article Education

School Counselor Role Statements: Fact or Fiction

Article excerpt

In 1966, 1974, and 1981, and most recently in 1990, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) issued statements on the role and function of school counselors (Association for Counselor Education and Supervision/American School Counselor Association, 1966; Lamb and Deschenes, 1974; American School Counselor Association, 1981; American School Counselor Association, 1990). The 1971 and 1990 statements covered school counseling in general. These statements were attempts by the professional association to clarify the role of elementary school counselors (as well as other school counselors). They were issued in response to the expressed needs of school counselors who desired a tool which could be used to help define their role to their administrators, faculties, students, parents, and other concerned individuals.

The role statements were based upon a history of supporting literature on elementary (and secondary counseling) dating back to the 1920's (Burnham, 1926, 1932; Addy, 1948; Cottingham, 1956; Hatch & Costar, 1961). Cottingham (1956) noted that guidance functions in the fifties, and earlier, tended to be vested mainly in the elementary school teacher. Cottingham's recognition of the need for elementary school counselors to function as resource persons for teachers marked the early roots of the consultant role for elementary school counselors. Culminating in the work of Don Dinkmeyer, the first editor of the Elementary School Guidance and Counseling Journal, the literature of the 1960's and 1970's clearly called for counselors to function in a developmentally, working wit all students (Dinkmeyer, 1966; 1967; Dinkmeyer & Caldwell, 1970; and Muro & Dinkmeyer, 1977). His work, and the materials he developed, provide the basis for much of the daily activities of elementary school counselors.

Over the past 30 years, much of the research into the role and function of elementary school counselors has been concentrated in two areas: the so called three "C's" of counseling, the functions of counseling, consultation, and coordination (Dinkmeyer, 1966, Kameen, Robinson, & Rotter, 1985; Bundy & Poppen, 1986); and the developmental philosophy of counseling (Peters, Shertzer, & Van Hoose, 1965; Dinkmeyer & Caldwell, 1977; Barnette, 1980; Robinson, Rotter, & Wilson, 1982; Muro & Miller, 1983; Myrick, 1987; Wilson, 1986).

Even though this history of research served as a basis for the role statements, the impact of the statements on actual practice is uncertain. Empirical research documenting the actual implementation of the statements is lacking. The literature seems to assume that most counselors accept the statements as "ideal" role descriptions for elementary school counselors. The validity of this assumption has never been fully tested.

The research study described in this article was designed to determine the validity of the 1981 ASCA role statements as demonstrated by the actual practice of elementary school counselors. (The 1990 statement existed as a draft copy when the study was conducted; however, it is similar to the 1981 statement, and many of the conclusions of the study could be made about the 1990 statement as well.) It attempts to examine the basic questions described above and verify that elementary school counselors do indeed perform the functions described in the statements and are not doing activities that are discouraged by the statements.

Method of Study

Participants

The population for this study consisted of counselors in ten southern states whose State Departments of Education responded to the researcher's request for counselor directories during the 88-89 school year. The states included South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas. From this population, a ten percent sample of elementary school counselors was systematically selected by identifying every tenth elementary school counselor name in the directory. …

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