Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counselors' Attitudes toward Evidence-Based Practices

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

School Counselors' Attitudes toward Evidence-Based Practices

Article excerpt

In recent years, interest in the use of evidence-based practices (EBPs) in school counseling has been growing. Trends have included the formation and facilitation of the annual Evidence-Based School Counseling conference, publications of books with strategies for school counselors' use of EBPs (Dimmitt, Carey, & Hatch, 2007; Kaffenberger & Young, 2013; Raines, 2008; Schiele, Weist, Youngstrom, Stephan, & Lever, 2014), and allocation of resources for school counselors to utilize EBPs (e.g., www.scale-research.org). Similarly, the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) Ethical Standards for School Counselors (2016) and ASCA's position statements (2017) contain guidelines that encourage school counselors to engage in data driven and EBPs as essential planning components of comprehensive school counseling programs. When school counselors are knowledgeable of factors that influence their process of selecting evidence-based interventions, they can implement effective programs for students and strive to increase efficacious program outcomes (ASCA, 2012a, 2016; Kaffenberger & Young, 2013).

The use of EBPs is seen in different professional disciplines, including medicine and psychology. A commonly cited definition of EBPs from the medical field describes the construct as a "conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients" (Sackett, Rosenberg, Gray, Haynes, & Richardson, 1996, p. 71). Psychologists have defined EBPs as "the integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences" (American Psychological Association, Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice, 2006, p. 273). Despite the initial definitions and encouraged use of EBPs (Sexton, Schofield, & Whiston, 1997), the infusion of EBPs has been slow in the counseling profession as a whole (Sommers-Flanagan, 2015; Yates, 2013).

In school counseling literature, EBPs are defined as "the intentional use of the best available evidence in planning, implementing, and evaluating school counseling interventions and programs" (Dimmitt et al., 2007, p. ix). Zyromski and Mariani (2016) further described EBPs in school counseling as a process in which school counselors use evidence and data outcomes to inform their practice and implementation of interventions. Ultimately, the purpose of EBPs in school counseling is to select effective services that will enhance students' educational outcomes. Despite an emphasis in the ASCA ethical standards (2016) for the use of EBPs in school counseling, no current research has examined school counselors' use of EBPs or factors that influence their use of EBPs. Therefore, we sought in this study to examine school counselor's attitudes toward EBPs and identify relationships between school counselors' counseling theoretical orientation and their attitudes toward the use of EBPs.

School Counselors' Use of Data-Driven and EBPs

Data collection and analysis are integral components of the ASCA National Model (2012a) because data are the vehicle for school counselors to demonstrate accountability, evaluate and develop program goals, and execute social justice initiatives. Kaffenberger and Young (2013) stated that "data can help challenge status-quo thinking, reflect the equity of services, evaluate the range of belief systems, and identify gaps" (p. 11). Dimmitt, Carey, and Hatch (2007) defined data-based decision-making as "a school improvement approach that uses quantitative data analysis techniques to help describe problems and to direct activities and resource allocations" (p. 17). Thus, school counselors collect and analyze data to develop, plan, and evaluate their school counseling program (ASCA, 2012a; Kaffenberger & Young, 2013).

Data used for making decisions about school counseling programs come from various source (ASCA, 2012a; Brigman, Villares, & Webb, 2018; Kaffenberger & Young, 2013). …

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