Academic journal article Rural Educator

Supervision Experiences of Rural School Counselors

Academic journal article Rural Educator

Supervision Experiences of Rural School Counselors

Article excerpt

While increased attention has been given to improving the clinical supervision of professional school counselors and school counseling interns (e.g., Lambie & Sias, 2009; Luke & Goodrich, 2012; Luke & Gordon, 2012), little research has been conducted to determine what school counselors who are also site supervisors want and need to grow professionally. In particular, school counselors working in rural areas may present different perceptions for their advancement when compared to urban and suburban school counselors.

Rural school districts often present unique challenges for consideration (Oser, Biebel, Pullen, & Harp, 2013; Rios, 1988). For example, weather and hazardous road conditions influence the ability to hold scheduled classes in rural school districts due to the reality of busing students from far-flung locations. Also, fewer student numbers often affect economic resources including budgets for employment and lessened access to opportunities for professional development that may result in educator burnout (Koch, 2007; Oser et al., 2013). Therefore, the purpose of this qualitative research study was to investigate the needs of rural professional school counselors and school counseling interns relative to clinical supervision, consultation, and professional growth.

Supervision of School Counselors

The importance of effective clinical supervision for all practicing counselors as well as those in training is a long established priority of the counseling profession (Bernard & Goodyear, 2009; Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs [CACREP], 2009). The focus on supervision needs is increased with the latest 2009 CACREP program standards for school counseling, which emphasize student learning outcomes based on competencies and demonstrated knowledge, especially as accomplished during hands-on experiences in the K-12 schools (CACREP, 2009). Comprehensive, developmental school counseling programs built on the guidelines of the American School Counselor Association National Model (ASCA, 2012) call for the counselors and interns to demonstrate skills and competencies related to advocacy, leadership, collaboration, and creation of systemic change. Following the American Counseling Association's Code of Ethics (ACA, 2014), consistent clinical supervision is needed to support the professional and personal growth of counselors and interns as they operate in complex work settings. The Ethical Standards for School Counselors (ASCA, 2010) also emphasize the need for effective supervision for both counselors (E.l.g.) and interns (F.3.) to ensure professional competence and best practices.

However, across work settings, school counselors seem to receive less supervision overall as compared to all other professional counselors (Somody, Henderson, Cook, & Zambrano, 2008). While some counselors are involved in administrative supervision and consultation by which they may receive constructive feedback regarding the delivery of services aligned with the school's mission, they often receive less clinical supervision with focus on personal growth and improvement of counseling skills (ASCA, 2012; Luke, Ellis, & Bernard, 2011). Recognition of the lack of clinical supervision expertise available for school counselors has brought forward several models meant to address the special demands of a school counselor's role in leading a school counseling program (e.g., Crutchfield & Borders, 2006; Henderson & Gysbers, 2006; Lambie & Sias, 2009; Luke & Bernard, 2006). In addition, in a special section in the journal of Counselor Education and Supervision Miller and Dollarhide (2006) focused on the supervision of school counselors.

Miller and Dollarhide (2006) discussed two key issues that need to be addressed which include an increase of supervision training and noted appreciation for supervision of school counselors. Lacking adequate supervision training, a school counselor is not well prepared to mentor new school counselors into the profession effectively. …

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