School counselors can often function as advocates, collaborators, and leaders while engaging as consultants (Baker 2009). Previously, consultation was always seen as a role consisting of guidance services only. According to Dougherty (1990), consultation usually involves three parties: a consultant, consultee, and client. In a school, it is natural for the consultee to go to school counselors for assistance. Consultees can be teachers, administration, parents/guardians, or students. In most cases, school counselors act as a support for the students in the school setting. Consultation can often be linked with collaboration and teamwork.
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) states that, “Through consultation, partnering, collaborating, and teaming, school counselors provide important contributions to the school system” (2005). According to Chesler, Bryant, and Crowfoot, advocacy characterizes a certain perception of school structure and professional consultation. One major concern is the role of an interest group in school and society. Actions such as tracking, curriculum concerns, rules for behavior, professional training for teachers, disciplinary enforcement, and teaching technologies, function to the advantage of some groups and to the disadvantage of others.
There is an assumption that harmony is natural and that societal conflicts do not exist within the school system. Educators and school support staff continue to view school failure as a result of individual and group behavior and possible administrative difficulty, rather than system inadequacy and structural oppression (Chesler, Bryant, and Crowfoot. 1976). Consultation can be defined as a special form of advocacy that attempts to bring together and support the actions of at least two other parties.
Dougherty (1990) defined a consultant as a person, who delivers direct service to another person (consultee) and has a work-related or caretaking-related problem with a person, group, organization, or community (client system). There are five different consulting modes that occur between the consultant and consultee. When in prescription mode, the consultant will present a response plan to the consultee. For example, if a teacher approaches the school counselor looking for advice about an disruptive student, the school counselor would go into the classroom and observe the students’ behavior.
After the behavior is observed, the school counselor (consultant) would develop and present a plan of action to the teacher (consultee) and help guide the teacher in implementing the plan. Provision mode is used when the consultee may not be willing to apply a plan given by the consultant. In this case, the consultant forms a direct relationship with the client in order to implement the developed intervention. During the initiation mode, a counselor (consultant) may overhear a teacher (consultee) speaking to another coworker negatively about unmanageable student or situation in the class.
In this case, the consultant would initiate conversation with the consultee to develop a consulting relationship. When the consultant and consultee are equally seeking ways to understand and resolve challenges that arise in the classroom, this is known as collaboration mode. This occurs when both the consultant and consultee try to recognize possible solutions to problems that consultees are experiencing. During this process, both the consultant and consultee, go through the steps of problem solving and determine the best course of action as a team.
When contributing during mediation mode, the consultant may be working with two or more individuals who need assistance in resolving a disagreement. The consultant takes the role of a mediator and helps to keep the lines of communication effective. According to Kurpius and Rozecki, “The consultant is contributing to the problem-solving process by offering ideas and helping with assessment and solution searching, but generally is not responsible for the long-term implementation of the intervention as other types of advocates might be”.
According to Kurpius and Rozecki, “Counselors have expanded the use of outreach, advocacy and consultation in order to assist those populations who are in danger of becoming victims of educational, social, environmental, or psychological need brought on by a wide variety of perceptions and assumptions”. The terms outreach, advocacy and consultation are often used interchangeable, which can sometimes cause confusion. According to Webster’s dictionary, an advocate is one who pleads the cause of another.
It can involve pleading the case of an individual, a small group, or even a larger population. At times, counselors spend more time advocating on an individual. There are ways of informing a mass population in the schools. One can do this by offering programs that focus on issues or concerns that are associated with adolescents, such as drug use, teen pregnancy, and single parent families. Counselors also function as advocates when they join with the client/student for the purpose of encouraging, supporting, or advocating for a cause on behalf of that client/student.
Sometimes advocacy is needed for rights of others who, for some reason, are unable to help themselves to obtain the services, and/or treatment that they have a right to receive. According to Kurpius and Rozecki, there are many different types of advocates in schools. The first is student advocacy. In this case, the counselor works with individual students to ensure more than enough representation and input is made in school decisions and to emphasize the current issues and needs.
Family advocacy is when the counselor initially represents the student’s family, but has an ultimate goal of helping all the family members learn to more effectively communicate with the school. Teacher advocacy allows the counselor to work with teachers to stress those needs that are most obvious on the classroom level, such as teacher student relationships, teacher in-service training, up-to-date teaching materials and teacher rights. During Mental health advocacy, the counselor works with a mental health agency to transform conditions in the school that might give rise to mental health problems.
This is often prevention oriented. There are many agencies in South Florida that work collaboratively with the school system. Some of the agencies are Henderson Behavioral Health, PACE Center for Girls, Chrysalis Center, Smith Community Care, and Children’s Harbor. School wide advocacy allows for the counselor to work with all school personnel, support staff, and community populations to create actions for the betterment of school policies, testing procedures, and extracurricular events, and to support strong school-community ties through an atmosphere of communication, collaboration, and advocacy.
With School Board-Administrative advocacy, the counselor works with the school administration to help clarify priorities that should be created by the school board. Community advocacy incorporates the counselor working with already existing community groups and agencies to promote and communicate their needs. One hypothetical situation of the counselor’s role as a consultant or advocate is when a teacher, who has a student with a behavioral or learning problem, approaches the school counselor for support.
The teacher tries a number of strategies and interventions and finds that nothing is successful in improving this child’s behavior. The counselor, who is also working as a consultant, can contact a local behavioral health center that work with the child and family, both in the home and/or at school. The counselor forms a partnership with the teacher to work toward defining and solving the learning or behavioral problem. The counselor’s role as consultant is to help the teacher take a better look at the situation both from the student’s perspective and the teacher’s perspective. This process will often at include other teachers, parents, and administrators in the process.
Chesler, M. A. , Bryant, B. I. , & Crowfoot, J. E. (1976). Consultation in Schools: Inevitable Conflict, Partisanship, and Advocacy. Professional Psychology, 7(4), 637-645. doi:10. 1037/h0078615 Kurpius, D. J. , & Rozecki, T. (1992). Outreach, advocacy, and consultation: A framework for prevention and intervention. Elementary School Guidance & Counseling, 26(3), 176. Moe, J. , Perera-Diltz, D. , & Sepvulveda, V. 2010). Are Consultation and Social Justice Advocacy Similar? : Exploring the Perceptions of Professional Counselors and Counseling Students. Journal For Social Action and Counseling in Psychology, 2(2), 106-122. Stanley, B. B. , Tracie, A. R. , Victoria, C. W. D. , Stacy, C. W. , & Rachel, E. S. (2009). School counselor consultation: A pathway to advocacy, collaboration, and leadership. Professional School Counseling, 12(3), 200-206. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/213338406? accountid=27965
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