Academic journal article Education

A Systems Approach to School Counselor Consultation

Academic journal article Education

A Systems Approach to School Counselor Consultation

Article excerpt

A major component of a school counselor's program is consultation with parents, teachers, administrators, and outside referral sources. This article presents an overview of the school counselor's role in systemic consultation, a rationale for the importance of school counselor consultation, issues related to resistance and an Adlerian model for systemic consultation. This model can be a useful tool for teachers, as well, as they consult with parents.

Children and adolescents are faced with a myriad of life stressors over which they have little or no control. Family transitions such as divorce and stepfamily living are such common occurrences that professionals often discount the emotional impact these changes have on children and youth. Academic difficulties related to learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder and other neurological difficulties make going to school a stressful experience for many children. Child abuse and violence toward children is at an alarming high with children under 18 accounting for 11% of all murder victims in the United States (Greenfield, 1996).

These very serious issues affect children both emotionally and academically. Younger children have fewer resources developmentally and psychologically to improve their often dismal life situations. Teachers and other school personnel are often overwhelmed by the seriousness of children's reactions to these stressful issues, and they can clearly see how these stressors affect their students' abilities to learn and grow. It is evident to most educators that in order to help children and adolescents thrive in the school environment, collaborative efforts must be made to improve the home and school environments. Significant adults in children's lives must initiate these efforts (White, Mullis, Earley, & Brigman, 1995).

The role of the school counselor is to facilitate student learning and successful socialization by focusing on the affective aspects of education. School counselors, as well as teachers and other educators, have known for decades that students' emotional well being has a decided impact on their ability to be successful learners. While other educators are concerned with and involved in formal instructional practices, school counselors provide a developmentally appropriate, preventive guidance and counseling program that will help students to feel encouraged about the learning process as well as their relationships with others. School counselors work from a holistic, systemic approach in which they attempt to understand and assist the whole child in relationship to classroom, home, and other environments.

School counseling has a history of focusing on the remedial aspects of a program, but as the profession has matured and reexamined itself there is a clear move toward the preventive and developmental aspects of a school counseling program (Gysbers & Henderson, 1994; Muro & Kottman, 1995). "... the profession of school counseling has moved away from the individual, position-oriented, one-to-one, small group counseling approach to a more preventive, wellness oriented, proactive one." (Wittmer, 1993, p.5).

The American School Counselors Association has long been an advocate for a balanced school counseling program that includes preventive components as well as remedial services (Campbell & Dahir, 1997). Typically school counselors organize their programs to include individual counseling, small group counseling, preventive classroom guidance lessons, and consultation with the significant adults in the student's life (Campbell & Dahir, 1997; White et al., 1995). The American School Counselors Association described the three major components to the school counselor's role as counseling, consulting, and coordinating (ASCA, 1990). Myrick (1993) described four approaches to guidance and counseling: crisis, remedial, preventive, and developmental. He argued that these four approaches can be found in all schools. …

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