Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Listen to the Voices: School Counselors and Comprehensive School Counseling Programs

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Listen to the Voices: School Counselors and Comprehensive School Counseling Programs

Article excerpt

Presently, many state departments of education and school counselor associations have published second-generation documents aligned with the ASCA National Model[R] (American School Counselor Association, 2005). This research study analyzed some school counselors' readiness to deliver comprehensive programs by assessing their attitudes, beliefs, and priorities for key program elements affirmed in the ASCA National Model. The results identified gaps in the school counselors' ability to embrace and implement the new vision of comprehensive school counseling during the initial stages of implementation and thus informed professional development needs.


Several years have passed since the 2003 introduction of the ASCA National Model[R], the premier blueprint for the development and implementation of comprehensive school counseling programs. The ASCA National Model (American School Counselor Association, 2005) furthered ASCA's decade-long ambition to connect the work of school counselors to the goals of school improvement. Prior to the ASCA National Model, national school counseling leaders defined professional school counselors as essential education partners who support the mission of schools and facilitate students' academic success (Campbell & Dahir, 1997; House & Martin, 1998; Johnson & Johnson, 1991; Myrick, 2003; Schwallie-Giddis, ter Maat, & Pak, 2003; Stone & Clark, 2001). Thus, the ASCA National Model extended the impact of ASCA's National Standards (Campbell & Dahir) and the Transforming School Counseling Initiative (Education Trust, 1997) by adding the theoretical and practical applications of comprehensive, developmental, and results-based school counseling (Gysbers & Henderson, 2000, 2002, 2006; Johnson & Johnson, 2001; Myrick, 1997, 2002).

The ideological shift from a service-driven model to an intentional programmatic delivery system required school counselors to address student development and learning, demonstrate results, contribute to accountability, and initiate systemic change (Gysbers & Henderson, 2000; Johnson & Johnson, 2002; Martin, 1998; Myrick, 2003; Stone & Dahir, 2004; Education Trust, 1997). The overall modifications in the content of school counseling programs, the process for delivery, accountability, and the skills needed to transform the school counseling professional, as observed in the late 1990s and early 21st century, fueled the changes that have swept school counseling practices across the nation.

The influence of the ASCA National Model on the school counseling profession has been unparalleled. As a result, many state departments of education and state school counselor associations have refined or redesigned their program guidelines and published second-generation documents aligned with the ASCA National Model (ASCA, 2007). Twenty-first-century school counselors are urged to shift their focus from the delivery of a menu of ancillary services to demonstrated outcomes that show student benefits from comprehensive programs (Johnson & Johnson, 2001; Stone & Dahir, 2007; Whiston, 2002). To support this perspective, researchers have shown that accountability practices and comprehensive school counseling programs can positively change the view of school counseling contributions in the context of a contemporary reform agenda (Burnham & Jackson, 2000; Dahir & Stone, 2003; Gysbers, 2004; Johnson, 2000). Recent studies have revealed that students who participate in comprehensive school counseling programs earn higher grades, are involved in fewer classroom disruptions, and show improved peer behavior (Brigman & Campbell, 2003; Lapan, 2001; Lapan, Gysbers, & Kayson, 2007; Lapan, Gysbers, & Sun, 1997; Sink, 2005; Sink & Stroh, 2003; Utah State Office of Education, 2007).

Since 1997, the Transforming School Counseling Initiative (TSCI) has challenged the traditions for preservice preparation and practice. …

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