Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

The Collaborative Group Counseling Referrel Process: Description and Teacher Evaluation

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

The Collaborative Group Counseling Referrel Process: Description and Teacher Evaluation

Article excerpt

Research suggests that school-based group counseling interventions can be effective in enhancing the psychosocial well-being of students (Prout & Prout, 1998) and that school counselors spend a substantial amount of time providing these interventions (Partin, 1993). Absent from the literature, however, are descriptions and evaluations of methods with which to identify and recruit regular education students for group counseling interventions in an efficient manner. While many group leaders employ methods such as sending memos to teachers asking for referrals for a particular group or advertising the formation of a group on a bulletin board (Ritchie & Huss, 2000), a more interaction-focused process between teachers and counselors may be more informative and may facilitate the assignment of students to appropriate groups. Further, research suggests that school counselors cite lack of time as a major barrier to implementing group counseling interventions (Dansby, 1996). Thus, in addition to methods maximizing teacher involvement and facilitating positive teacher-counselor relationships, efficient methods are needed that make the most of limited time.

This article describes the development and initial use of the collaborative group counseling referral process. The process was used to form counseling groups for second grade students in an efficient manner that maximized teacher participation in the referral and group formation process. First, the school setting and participants are briefly described. Second, the process is described, as are the counseling groups that resulted from the process. Next, teachers' perceptions of the group referral process are examined. Finally, implications of the teachers' responses are considered.

Setting and Participants

The elementary school at which the collaborative group counseling referral process was implemented and evaluated consisted of approximately 500 students (58% White, 25% African American, 13% Hispanic, 4% Asian, with 40% receiving free or reduced lunch); 107 of these students were in second grade. The process was conceptualized and implemented by the school counselor, who was beginning her second year at the school, and the school psychology intern, who was assigned to the school as part of a practicum requirement.

The second grade faculty included six teachers, all of whom participated in the process. All teachers were female and Caucasian, with a mean of 16.33 years of teaching experience (SD = 9.52).

Description of the Process

The collaborative group counseling referral process stemmed from the philosophy that, particularly at the elementary level, no one at school knows a student better than his or her teacher. Teachers work with their students each day within a variety of contexts and, therefore, are most likely to notice student behaviors or verbalizations that are indicative of distress, disturbance, or need for intervention. The second grade teachers in particular reported behavioral and emotional concerns with a number of their students. In response to these concerns, the school counselor suggested that she and the intern meet with the second grade faculty during their team planning period. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the teachers' concerns with their students, so that counseling groups could be formed which would (a) address the teachers' concerns, and (b) lead to improved behavior and affect among the students. It was felt that the number of students about whom the teachers were concerned precluded the intern or counselor seeing these students individually.

During the meeting (which lasted approximately 30 minutes), teachers were asked to describe those students about whom they were concerned, so that their concerns could be organized into themes or common areas of need. These themes then led to the formation of groups to respond to students' needs. Specifically, the discussion involved each teacher describing the behaviors and verbalizations engaged in by each of the students, and how these were perceived to be indicative of emotional distress or need for intervention. …

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