Academic journal article Counselor Education and Supervision

Building a Bridge: Counselor Educator-School Counselor Collaboration. (Professional Development)

Academic journal article Counselor Education and Supervision

Building a Bridge: Counselor Educator-School Counselor Collaboration. (Professional Development)

Article excerpt

Despite calls for collaboration between counselor educators and school counselors, little is known about how collaboratives develop and what, if any, benefits are derived by the participants. In this article, the authors describe an 8-year collaboration between a group of university-based counselor educators and school counselors in 1 partnership community. Interviews with selected members of the collaborative were conducted to assess the participants' perceptions of the impact of this collaborative on their professional lives. A qualitative analysis of interviews revealed that renewal, professional development, and community are central to the experience of participants. Implications for future collaborations and research are discussed.

I have realized that if you can join people together on the same wavelength, you can accomplish a lot more than I could as an individual. This may sound obvious, but I did not believe it until I saw the Collaborative transform the professional identity of counseling in my department. It is more than a support--it is a bridge joining us together.

--School Counselor

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In the last 10 years, professional associations, accrediting bodies, and private foundations have emphasized the importance of partnerships with practitioners in counselor education. In 1992, in response to these recommendations, the faculty of the School Counseling Program at The University of Georgia and the counselors in the Clarke County School System joined forces to develop new working relationships between school counselors and counselor educators that "derive from a mutual respect for the position and the contribution of each to the shared enterprise of educating counselors" (Hayes, Dagley, & Horne, 1996, p. 380). This Counselor Educator-School Counselor Collaborative (hereafter called the Collaborative) was initiated to provide a bridge from theory to practice and was undertaken, in part, to provide an alternative to (a) the tendency of practicing counselors to abandon the theory they spent years learning and (b) the potential for counselor educators to lose touch with the realities of schools. The Collaborative also met the local need of providing direction and professional development for school counselors who did not have a district-level supervisor or organization. This particular partnership has evolved and has become the vehicle for improving the preparation program at the university and the practice of counseling in the local school system.

Members of this Collaborative meet monthly for 3 hours to discuss mutual projects, attend educational sessions that address identified needs related to professional development, and engage in ongoing dialogue about the similarities and differences in our professional lives. At the counselors' request, these meetings are held at the university to minimize interruptions and distractions. Recent topics for professional development have included team building and collaboration, diversity training, and Web page development. The first hour of the meeting is generally used for networking and disseminating information. During the remaining 2 hours, participants focus on the topic previously identified as an area of need by members of the Collaborative. In addition to these meetings, counselor educators are frequently in the local schools attending counselor meetings and working with counselors to address real-world problems. In a similar way, school counselors can frequently be found at the university--aiding in instruction, interviewing applicants, or working with counselor educators in their classes for school counseling students.

This collaborative relationship has been productive during its 8-year span. Although the heart of the Collaborative continues to be in the monthly meetings of school counselors and counselor educators, the work has also been extended. Numerous Collaborative outcomes are apparent: creating new counseling programs in several schools; designing, implementing, and evaluating multiple research projects; and obtaining a national grant to transform school counseling (Hayes, Paisley, Phelps, Pearson, & Salter, 1997; Paisley & Hayes, 1998). …

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