Academic journal article Michigan Journal of Counseling

The Status of Licensed Professional Counselors in Michigan Public Universities

Academic journal article Michigan Journal of Counseling

The Status of Licensed Professional Counselors in Michigan Public Universities

Article excerpt

Professionals with a graduate degree in counseling work in diverse capacities in institutions of higher education providing career counseling, mental health counseling, and student personnel services (Dean & Meadows, 1995). What differentiates college counselors from other professionals with a graduate degree in counseling is their "understanding of the context in which students exist, including the stresses present and the resources available. They offer expertise related to the college environment and its effects on students" (Dean, 2000, p. 42). At a state university in 1980, professionals with a graduate degree in counseling were providing academic counseling, administrative counseling, career counseling, and personal counseling (Heins et al., 1980). In Michigan, most graduates of counselor education programs who intend to work in college counseling or career centers have elected to be licensed as professional counselors (LPCs) subsequent to the passage of the 1989 counselor licensure law. A decade ago counseling professionals were employed in college counseling centers, admissions, financial aid, academic advising, orientation, student activities, services for students with disabilities, residence life, career services, and other student services areas (Dean & Meadows) identified as student affairs divisions (Dungy, 2003).

More recently, however, professionals with a graduate degree in counseling have faced challenges on at least two fronts. A significant challenge has been posed by shrinking university and student affairs budgets (Spooner, 2000) and an increased pressure to take on additional roles (Dean, 2000; Hodges, 2001). Shrinking budgets have resulted in a large number of job cuts in university counseling centers nationwide (Hodges, 2001). Some universities have outsourced their services to local agencies as a method of dealing with limited budgets (Dean & Meadows, 1995). Others have documented job cuts in career counseling centers as a result of increasing emphasis on technology that is replacing some of the roles and responsibilities of career counselors (Behrens & Altman, 1998).

Another challenge to professionals with a graduate degree in counseling who work in higher education is one that reflects societal issues and necessitates a redefinition of roles and responsibilities. The student development model has been the philosophical foundation of college counseling from its early beginnings up to the last 15 years (Hodges, 2001). A shift has occurred in college counseling centers away from the developmental model toward the medical model which focuses on diagnosis and treatment of various mental disorders (Gallagher, Gill, & Goldstrom, 1999). This movement toward the medical model was stimulated by an apparent increase in severity of student problems (Meadows, 2000; Tinklin, Riddell, & Wilson, 2005), though some research challenges this conclusion (Kettmann, Schoen, Moel, Cochran, Greenberg, & Corkery, 2007). The loss of the student development model as the underpinning of university counseling centers, in particular, has removed counseling from its traditional role (Ivey & Ivey, 1998) and has resulted in a paradigm shift in the profession (Nevels, Webb, & John as cited in Hodges).

In the context of all of these changes, professionals with a graduate degree in counseling appear to have made a home for themselves in small college counseling settings. Large university counseling centers are often aligned with health services (Dean, 2000) where counselors are being perceived as health care providers, a perspective which de-emphasizes or combines the traditional developmental model and focuses on the clinical model. Smaller college counseling centers are more closely aligned with other student affairs programs which espouse a developmental perspective and in these settings these counselors often hold multiple roles on campus (e.g., they may teach, offer supervision, and be involved in learning assistance and orientation) (Dean, 2000). …

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