Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

An Examination of the Role of Online Technology in School Counseling

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

An Examination of the Role of Online Technology in School Counseling

Article excerpt

Online technologies are pervasive in today's society, playing a central role in our professional and personal lives. School counselors are not immune to this cultural shift. Communication and information delivery through e-mail and other online mediums are integral components of practice and critical to the profession's relevance and effectiveness in 21st-century education. The American School Counselor Association (ASCA, 2012a) and the American Counseling Association (ACA, 2014) compel school counselors to promote students' safe and responsible use of technology to facilitate academic, career, and personal/social achievement. The paradigm has shifted, and counselors must be competent and confident with online communication and information technologies (Cabaniss, 2002; Martin, 2002; Van Horn & Myrick, 2001).

Technology evolves rapidly, with new advancements requiring school counselors to adapt dynamically. In recent years, online communication has evolved dramatically to offer a diverse set of reliable, high quality modes of remote interaction at our fingertips. An incredible range of tools is available for school counselors to utilize in the delivery of their counseling services to students and families.

The extent to which school counselors are using these technologies to per form or deliver day-to-day counseling activities is unknown. There is a paucity of published research in this area, and existing studies are dated and general in their treatment of technology use by school counselors (Sabella, Poynton, & Isaacs, 2010). Up-to-date and relevant data on specific technology applications and frequency of use provides a benchmark for understanding the integration of technologies in professional practice. Furthermore, research that explores counselors' beliefs about the advantages and applicability of online technologies to their daily practice may help illuminate barriers and perhaps point to targeted professional development that may help to address these obstacles. An examination of ethical practice must keep pace with the examination of technology implementation (Wilczenski & Coomey, 2006). How school counselors maintain student confidentiality is a critical consideration of the field. School counselors' own personal and professional boundaries surrounding technology use is also an open question. With increased access to communication tools that split between professional and personal use, do counselors allow their duties to carry over while they are off the clock? The impact of technology on work/life boundaries has not yet been addressed in the literature.

The purpose of this study is to explore the trends of online technology use by school counselors and to investigate the impact of these technologies on the school counseling profession. With a non-experimental, quantitative survey instrument, the authors polled a national sample of school counselors on their use of online technologies, their comfort with and beliefs about the role and efficacy of these technologies, and their considerations of ethical practice. The authors also sought to determine if differences in belief and practice exist among factors related to counselors' backgrounds, including training with technology.


School counselors are encouraged in the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics (ACA, 2014) and the ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors (ASCA, 2010) to "promote the benefits of and clarify the limitations of various appropriate technological applications" (ASCA, 2010, A.10.a.). ASCA calls on school counselors to guide school policies regarding online incidents and to address digital citizenship. In accord, the training standards published by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) includes several items related to technology (CACREP, 2009). For example, CACREP-approved programs must ensure that school counseling students are knowledgeable about Web- and computer-based information, applications, and assessments that promote informed academic, career, and personal/ social development. …

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