Academic journal article Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology

Professional Identity of School Counselors in India

Academic journal article Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology

Professional Identity of School Counselors in India

Article excerpt

Following orders from the Supreme Court of India and the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India (MHRD-Gol), a famous R K Raghavan Committee was constituted, which recommended, among other things, the deployment of counselors in secondary and senior secondary schools. It mandated arrangement for a specified number of regular and periodic psychological counseling sessions per year for every student till they exit school with involvement of parents and teachers during such exercises. While these recommendations have been translated into repeated 'circulars' from Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE, 2012), much has been practiced only in the context of preventing ragging in educational institutions. School counseling must address on 'building self-concept, self-image, acceptability, ability to withstand pressures, sense of enterprise, sportsmanship' within the larger learning process appears to have been relegated to the background (CURE, 2007).

Since, the early call given by Fletcher & Riddle (1962), the status of advocacy counseling (Kiselica & Robinson, 2001), clinical counseling (Carlson, Jain & Ramirez, 2009) and school counseling in India continues to remain a bud that has never blossomed (Soliman, 1991). Professionals in the field, if there are any, remain an assorted lot and continue their paper debates or explorations of the western models for counseling in the local context to no avail (Romano, Goh & Wahl, 2005). School counseling has great potential to help students achieve high standards in their academic, career, personal and social growth (House & Martin, 1998). With the advent of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE, 2009), the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act (PWD, 1995), the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD, 2007) and such other national or international instruments, the directive for employment of resource teacher or special educator (an indigenous euphemism for school counselor) are laid down. Such personnel are held responsible for demonstrating their roles and responsibilities, along with justification for their existence in regular school systems currently dominated by mainstream teachers and administrators (Adelman, 2002; Remley & Herlihy, 2001).

School counselors are often seen as a subsidiary to the mission of schools. They are not included as an integral part of the school system. School counselors and what they do are topics that are conspicuously missing in many instances. This omission is an enormous mistake especially for students who are different, disadvantaged, fast or slow, over achieving or underachieving, and those who are marginalized, or are in the minority. The seminal job and critical role of school counselor is to promote equity, opportunities, and protect the child rights (Amatea & Clark, 2005; Bemak, 2000). There is research documenting that students are more academically successful in schools if the school counselor's action is limited (Whiston & Sexton, 1998). Instead, there is evidence that students are negatively impacted as a result of counselor inaction (Schneider & Stevenson, 1999). The status-role of school counselors is ambiguous in many countries. It is bound to be more so in India (Kodad & Kazi, 2014; Arulmani, 2007; Kashyap, 2004; Unnithan, 1986).

The scenario of professional school counseling in India is pathetic. There are no known university level academic programs as yet available with exclusive focus on this professional pursuit. Usually, post graduates in allied fields, such as, psychology (educational, child, clinical or applied), social work, human development, sociology, or other humanities don the role of school counselors. A Post Graduate Diploma Course in Guidance and Counseling offered by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), New Delhi, under MHRD-Gol, since 1958, is deemed as the closest to an official program authorized for the profession (Joneja, 2006). …

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