Academic journal article Counseling and Values

Student Spirituality and School Counseling: Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges

Academic journal article Counseling and Values

Student Spirituality and School Counseling: Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges

Article excerpt

In this article, the professional school counseling community is introduced to the value of addressing student spirituality as a way to foster personal and social growth. Prior to discussing the robust theoretical and research foundation for this endeavor, 3 workable definitional strands of spirituality are summarized and applied to educational settings. Strategies for transitioning from the conceptual to school practice are explored, including the key issues related to legal and ethical practice and school counselor education and training. Finally, recommendations for future school counseling research in this area are briefly examined.

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The value of spirituality in promoting mental health, healing, and human flourishing is now well documented in the counseling and related professional literature (e.g., Aten & Worthington, 2009; Balk, 2009; Cashwell, Glosoff, & Hammond, 2010; Gill, Barrio Minton, & Myers, 2010; Kottler & Shepard, 2011; Lambie, Davis, & Miller, 2008; Lines, 2002, 2006; Morgan, 2007; Nelson, 2009; C. Peterson, 2006; Powers, 2005; Richards, Smith, Berrett, O'Grady, & Bartz, 2009; Stanard, Sandhu, & Painter, 2000; Weld & Eriksen, 2007; Worthington, 2011; Zinnbauer & Pargament, 2000). The depth and scope of this dialogue are extensive, generating substantial research both in the United States and internationally (e.g., Gubi, 2009; Hue, 2009; Montilla & Smith, 2009). There also is consensus among counseling professionals that client spirituality influences ethical considerations and multiculturalism as well as mental health assessment, prevention, and intervention (e.g., Brown, Johnson, & Parrish, 2007; Cashwell & Young, 2004, 2005; Fukuyama & Sevig, 1997; Ingersoll, 1997; McCullough, 1999; Moore-Thomas & Day-Vines, 2008; Pieterse, Evans, Risner-Butner, Collins, & Mason, 2009; Plante, 2009; Rose, Westefeld, & Ansley, 2001). Several prominent scholars have labeled the spiritual dimension as the "fifth force" in the counseling profession (Morgan, 2007; Pieterse et al., 2009; Sandhu, in press; Stanard et al., 2000).

Further raising the status of this domain, several key counseling associations (e.g., American Counseling Association [ACA], 2005; American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2010; Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development [AMCD], see Arredondo et al., 1996; Association for Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling [ASERVIC], 2009) as well as accrediting bodies (e.g., Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs [CACREP], 2009) integrate spiritual competencies into their programmatic standards as a viable way to meet client needs and enhance pre- and in-service counselor education practices. In this regard, educators responsible for contemporary graduate-level counseling preparation programs are encouraged to include the spiritual into core training competencies (Bishop, Avila-Juarbe, & Thumme, 2003; Briggs & Dixon Rayle, 2005; Cashwell & Young, 2004, 2005; Myers & Williard, 2003; Pieterse et al., 2009). Accordingly, given the considerable sway spirituality now exerts on existing counseling theory, research, and practice (Aten & Worthington, 2009), serious reflection is warranted, particularly as it concerns how the dimension can be woven into the fabric of educational (Goodell & Robinson, 2008) and school counseling practice (Lambie et al., 2008; Sink, 2004).

Given the profession's evolution as just outlined, it is not altogether surprising that spirituality, a core aspect of human well-being, is making tentative inroads into K-12 education (e.g., Cohen, 2006; Ditzhazy & Tiao, 2003; Hoalt & Hoalt, 2005; Kessler & Fink, 2008; Kroninger, Domm, Webster, & Troutman, 2010; Noddings, 2005; Nucci & Narvaez, 2008; Palmer, 2003) and professional school counseling (e.g., Bruce & Cockreham, 2004; Hall, Dixon, & Mauzey, 2004; Ingersoll & Bauer, 2004; Lambie et al. …

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