College Access Preparation for School Counselors
Here in the northeastern part of the Unites States, we are slowly emerging from a long and cold winter. It has continued to snow as spring has officially begun, reminding us that winters in some parts last longer than the calendar dictates. As the weather continually evolves, so to do the roles and definitions of professional school counseling. Recently, school counselor educators and other professionals, including several from NARACES, convened with first lady Michelle Obama and representatives from other governmental and professional organizations to discuss the changing face of college access and readiness. School counselors are poised to take a more prominent role in improving college access through advising, use of data, and policy reform advocacy. As such, emerging school counselors will need specific preparation to work in these areas as they enter the workforce.
As graduate students, we have opportunities to participate in this change in several meaningful ways. For those who are pursuing their initial school counseling license, this is a time to focus on college access projects during coursework, practicum, and internship. Advocacy projects including opportunities to design and implement curriculum materials focused on college access topics provide great learning opportunities for developing school counselors. Research class projects can have a data collection/dissemination focus for school counseling related projects, giving school counselors an early taste of effective and meaningful ways to work with data. Further, class projects addressing the leadership, collaboration, advocacy, and systemic efforts of school counselors can use college access as a central focus of these activities.
For doctoral students in counselor education and supervision, there are many opportunities to get involved in the preparation of new school counselors ready to meet the needs of a changing population. As supervisors of school counseling students, we can familiarize ourselves with recent transformations in school counseling, so that we may supervise school-counselors-in-training (SCIT) in line with their professional roles and responsibilities. This means developing an understanding of the range of roles expected of the professional school counselor, as well as understanding the complex and dynamic nature of public and private education. As teaching assistants and instructors, we can support SCIT as they make sense of their professional identity in a rapidly changing school counseling context.
Counselor educators also have a myriad of opportunities to effect change in the preparation of school counselors. Instruction can be designed to accentuate experiential learning opportunities focused on college access and readiness, providing practical experience with specific content and research. Those conducting school counseling research can invite students to assist in the research process, and counselor education programs can provide resources and opportunities for SCIT to collaborate with their peers in other counseling and education related programs, such as teacher education and educational leadership. Programmatic opportunities such as school counseling focused CSI events, guest speakers, and opportunities to network with other school counselors and college access professionals could prove valuable in SCIT preparation.
School counseling is a rapidly changing profession and the preparation of school counselors continues to evolve to keep up with this change. Working to close the college access gap in collaboration with other professionals is central to the professional identity of school counselors, and early preparation of these professionals can go a long way towards meeting the needs of 21st century students.
Thank you to Alan Miller for providing this month's Hot Topics in Counseling!!
Harvey Charles Peters is a second year doctoral student in Counseling and Counselor Education at Syracuse University. He received his master’s degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling. Harvey is involved in various professional counseling associations, and is currently serving as the ACES Graduate Student Representative-Designate and NARACES Graduate Student Representative. Harvey’s leadership, scholarship, supervision, and teaching is focused on humanism, postmodernism, and intersectionality. With that, he believes in developing critical and reflexive practices through a commitment to humanistic engagement and non-privileged identities, which include: developing practices for counselor educators and supervisors; humanism, postmodernism, and multiculturalism in counselor education; and clinical supervision. Harvey’s clinical experience consists of working at a community agency, outpatient facility, and an inpatient facility where he provided services to children, adults, couples, and families, particularly for LGBTQQIAAPD individuals and those with marginalized social locations.
Hennessey is an Ed.D student in Counseling and Human Development at the University of Rochester. Her research interests include the use of contemplative practices in school-based settings, professional development for classroom teachers on school-based mental health services, and School Counselor intern preparation and readiness. Professionally, Hennessey has worked as a School Counselor for twelve years and most recently also works in private practice as a Mental Health Counselor, where she services children, adolescents and families. Hennessey is a 2014 Emerging Leader Fellow and served as editorial assistant for the Spring 2014 Journal of Counselor Preparation and Supervision. In her free time, Hennessey enjoys spending time with her husband and three young children, practicing yoga, and traveling. Hennessey looks forward to serving as the GSC Chair and the Graduate Student Representative for the NARACES Executive Council, advocating for graduate students and assisting graduate students with professional development.
Anna is a licensed professional counselor and has been in the field of counseling for about 10 years. She was a mental health counselor and supervisor in community agencies and enjoys working with underserved, at-risk populations. Currently, Anna is a third year doctoral fellow in the counselor education program at Montclair State University, a mother of twins, and a wife. Anna is the first graduate student representative with voting rights to the American Counseling Association (ACA) governing board, as well as a NARACES emerging leader. She is also an active member of NARACES, NJ ACES, and ACA’s graduate student committee and new initiatives strategic committee. Anna is committed to advocating for graduate students’ needs within our profession.
Alan is a Ph.D student in Counselor Education & Supervision at Syracuse University. Before beginning his program at Syracuse, he was an elementary and middle school counselor in both New York and Oregon. His research interests focus on the use of developmental perspectives in clinical supervision, teaching methods in counselor education and the collaboration between school counselors and teachers. During his free time, he enjoys spending time with his amazing wife and equally amazing children.
Michele Rivas, PLMHC, NCC is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Counseling and Human Services at Syracuse University. Her scholarly interests include multicultural counseling competencies to work with disability, and disability rhetoric within the counseling discourse. She currently practices as a professional counselor in a community setting serving clients with disabilities. This practice grounds her view of the counseling work, and strongly informs her view of counselor education as a discipline. As an emerging Critical Disability Studies scholar, Michele seeks to re-center and legitimize disability in the mental health discourse, amplifying the experiences of those who have been historically silenced.
Vanessa is an Ed.D. student in Counselor Education and Supervision at Argosy University, Washington DC. Her research interests focus on gatekeeping in counselor education and successful remediation strategies utilized by counselor educators with students in counseling programs. During her free time, Vanessa enjoys spending time in the great outdoors biking, hiking, camping, kayaking, skiing and walking her Chihuahua. Vanessa also enjoys photography, singing karaoke, traveling to new places, spending time with family and friends and going to Walt Disney World. Vanessa is currently a member of VCA’s Professional Development Committee, a member of ACA’s Leadership Development Task Force and the Professional Development Committee chair for Chi Sigma Iota at Argosy University, DC. She is also the recipient of Chi Sigma Iota’s Outstanding Doctoral Student award at Argosy University, DC. Currently, Vanessa works at a private practice in Alexandria, Virginia and is working toward her LPC hours.