Added December 18, 2018
The wellness of school counselors is an emerging field of study. School counselors are encouraged to practice wellness enhancing activities to ensure optimal professional effectiveness. In this study, the authors investigated how school counselors function within their roles and what organizational factors (i.e., RAMP, supervision, support), if any, were most influential in leading to increased levels of wellness.
When school counselors engaged in activities aligned with data collection and accountability practices, their wellness increased. These activities tend to be self-driven, collaborative, and action oriented, and results can be seen immediately, making it more likely for others to see the impact of their work. Increasing these activities in the school setting may help decrease school counselor burnout and may help create a more positive school environment. Because school counselors who worked in RAMP-designated schools engaged in these activities more often, it could be inferred that working in a RAMP school may increase the likelihood of performing duties found to be predictive of increased wellness. Conversely, school counselors still spend a significant amount of time on non-counseling related activities. This is important to note as the performance of duties that are aligned with the ASCA National Model has been found to foster positive student outcomes. In this study, the performance of non-counseling duties did not adversely affect the wellness of the participants.
School counselors are more likely to engage in activities that are aligned with the ASCA National Model when they feel supported by administration. Thus, school counselors who are supported by others are more likely to perform duties that result in positive student outcomes. School counselors might consider identifying and seeking out support systems and evaluate support levels within their schools. Although school counselors reported performing counseling and consultation duties less often, they did report that they receive a high level of support for the associated duties, such as taking a preventive role in school discipline, system support duties, ability to provide individual student planning, and responsive services. More than one third of school counselors in the study reported a lack of support to carry out classroom lessons. School counselors would benefit from creating curriculum results reports in order to determine what works and what needs to be improved, thus supporting the duties that can improve student learning and also promote school counselor wellness.
Many of the school counselors in this study reported not receiving supervision, and of those school counselors who received supervision, the majority were not receiving supervision based on the ASCA National Model. Past researchers found that the lack of supervision in conjunction with difficult and stressful caseloads increased the demands put on school counselors. Further, the consequences of these demands may lead to burnout and impairment, affecting one’s overall wellness. It can be inferred that the support school counselors received may come from peers and people in a non-supervisory role. School counselor training programs might consider providing additional training to school counselors on peer supervision and how to support peers in the school setting (since this might be the primary way to gain support).
School counselors encourage the wellness of their students through developmental approaches and preventative interventions that promote optimal functioning. Although this can be seen as an important function of the school counselor, the wellness of those who promote wellness in their students has been overlooked.
Nicole M. Randick, EdD, Shannon Dermer, PhD. Rebecca E. Michel, PhD
© 2021 SCALE