Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Preventive School Counseling: A Stress Inoculation Perspective

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Preventive School Counseling: A Stress Inoculation Perspective

Article excerpt

What Shall You Do Tomorrow Morning?

School counseling is currently perceived as a comprehensive and developmental planned activity. However, in practice many school counselors are occupied with a daily struggle in trying to respond to unplanned external demands imposed on them by school staff or students (Paisley & Borders, 1995).This gap deserves a closer look, as it questions either the accuracy of the perceptual terms in which school counseling is initially defined, or the way by which these terms are later translated into occupational guidance or other practical activities. A possible reason for this gap may be the lack of a clear meta-conceptualization for school counselor's proactive interventions. In the present article, the Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) model (Meichenbaum, 1985) is suggested as a plausible meta-concept to guide school counselors in their initiation of curriculum interventions.

Is There Life Beyond Academic Success?

Borders and Drury's (1992) comprehensive review of school counseling is encouraging.The major conclusion that may be drawn from their review is that the basic issue for both policymakers and practitioners at present is the "how" of school counseling rather than the "whether." That is, there is enough evidence to testify to the important role and contribution of school counselors.

According to Borders and Drury (1992), school counseling can be described as a process whose "underlying purposes are to facilitate the instructional process and student's academic success" (p.488). This definition is also suggested by other theorists of school counseling (Myrick & Merhill, 1986; Neukrug, Barr, Hoffman, & Kaplan,1993), and has indirectly been extended by Gerler (1992) as the criterion for school counseling effectiveness.

However, such a definition ignores the existing debate regarding the school counselor's role (Walz,1988).The complexity of the debate led Rye and Sparks (1991) to suggest that the counselor's role should be deEmed by the student who, as the "person to be served, is in the best position to determine the nature of their own needs" (p.2). One major problem of such a definition lies in its irrelevancy to emerging insights about the future goals of schooling.

Traditionally, three major goals of schools are defined as (1) the teaching of basic reading, writing, and arithmetic skills, (2) the enculturation of children into the dominant culture, and (3) the improvement of society through exposing students to new reforms, which will lead to the elimination of racial and economic inequalities (Busch-Rossnagel & Vance,1982).Thus, in general terms, the purpose of schooling is the acquisition of knowledge as well as the fostering of successful socialization into adult society (see also Dreeben,1968; Johnson,1970; Serpell,1993).

However, contemporary diversity in the family's impact on students' lives (Municie, Wetherell, Dallos, & Cochrane, 1994), as well as the growing awareness about children atrisk (Brandt,1993; Wang & Reynolds,1995), and their presence in schools (Russell & Grandgenett, 1994), have enhanced educational awareness to the social, in addition to the academic, function of schooling. Gradually, educators realized that for some students, school constitutes a means of survival (for example, through teacher's personal guidance regarding out-of-school problems; peer support; by providing an escape from home problems) rather than a way to gain knowledge that may be meaningful in the future (Benard,1993). Moreover, even for students who are not atrisk, it has been demonstrated that many students confront stressful events on a daily basis, which occupies most of their thoughts while academic matters are put aside (Lewis, Siegel, & Lewis, 1984; Romano, Miller, & Nordness, 1996; Sorensen,1993; Zitzow,1992). Unsurprisingly, when students were retrospectively questioned about what is important to study during their school years, a long list of life skills emerged (Phelan,Yu, & Davidson,1994). …

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