Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Middle School Students' Expectations about Counseling

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Middle School Students' Expectations about Counseling

Article excerpt

Although counseling expectations have been studied in late adolescent and adult samples, little is known about younger adolescents' openness to counseling and perceptions of the counseling process. In this study, 329 middle school students completed the Expectations About Counseling Questionnaire-Brief Form (Tinsley, 1982). An exploratory factor analysis indicated support for a two-factor structure, consisting of expectations about (a) the student's role and (b) the school counselor's role. Implications are considered for future research and practical efforts to enable young adolescents to benefit more fully from responsive counseling services.

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Client expectations about counseling have been researched extensively over the past several decades (Barich, 2002). This literature has been tied to the assumption that clients' expectations can affect important aspects of the counseling process, including the clients' decisions to enter or remain in counseling, the type of counseling issues they are willing to present, and the quality of the working alliance they are able to achieve with their counselors. Research on adult clients' expectations was greatly facilitated by the development of the Expectations About Counseling Questionnaire (EAC; Tinsley, Workman, & Kass, 1980) and its brief form (EAC-B; Tinsley, 1982), which sample expectations about client and counselor behaviors and qualifies and counseling outcomes.

The EAC has been studied in relation to client demographic (e.g., gender, age), personality, and clinical status factors; counselor characteristics; and counseling process variables, such as premature termination (Barich, 2002). Findings indicate, for example, that certain types of young adults' expectations may vary as a function of gender, culture, and ethnicity (Abreu, 2000; Aegisdottir & Gerstein, 2000; Aegisdottir, Gerstein, & Gridley, 2000; Kunkel, 1990; Kunkel, Hector, Coronado, & Vales, 1989; Kyong, Fong, & Thomas, 1999; Yuen & Tinsley, 1981); that young adult client expectations may be modified by experience in counseling and by provision of counseling orientation or role induction methods (Tinsley, Bowman, & Ray, 1988); and that expectations measured after (Longo, Lent, & Brown, 1992), rather than before (Hardin, Subich, & Holvey, 1988), the initiation of counseling can predict adults' retention in counseling.

While this literature has illuminated important correlates of client expectations, nearly all studies have focused on late adolescent or adult samples (e.g., Coursol, Lewis, & Garrity, 2001; Craig & Hennessy, 1989; Goldfarb, 2002; Hardin & Subich, 1985; Hardin et al., 1988; Heesacker, Heppner, & Shaw, 1988; Subich & Coursol, 1985; Turton, 2004). As a result, relatively little is known about the counseling expectations of younger people, such as students in middle school. Available findings do suggest, however, that young adolescents tend to underutilize mental health services (Burns et al., 1995). While part of the problem may involve access to services, it is also possible that some adolescents avoid seeking available professional help because of negative or unrealistic expectations about counseling. The current study was, therefore, aimed at extending the study of counseling expectations to younger adolescents, in particular, middle school students. It was assumed that research on this agenda may inform the provision of effective responsive school counseling services via the individual counseling strategy and maintain its viable role in comprehensive school counseling programs (Eschenauer & Chen-Hayes, 2005; Whiston & Sexton, 1998).

Young adolescents' developmental needs mandate uniquely designed comprehensive, developmental, and systemic school counseling programs and services. In particular, school counseling for middle school youngsters must enable students to optimize academic potential and personal growth, acquire prosociai skills and values, and set career goals within an appropriate developmental framework (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2005b). …

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