Tuesday, February 10, 2015

School Counseling Formula

Permission from School Counselor Central is required for reproduction of visual and formula concept.

       This past week I viewed all of the wonderful ways in which school counselors were sharing their work and values in supporting students.  I went back to my previous posting on the idea that celebration should be more than a week long.  I questioned: if our goal as school counselors is to have the school and community understand our work and embrace a comprehensive school counseling program then what was the formula for this process?

      The question lead me to revisit the idea of solution focused outcomes.  The concept developed by Shazer and Berg (1970) is future-focused, goal-directed, and focuses on solutions, rather than on the problems that brought clients to seek therapy. (http://www.solutionfocused.net/solutionfocusedtherapy.html)  The approach provides clients with support while building a toolbox of strategies in dealing with problems.  Lots of school counseling research and books discuss solution focused therapy, but I wanted to take it beyond the individual counseling approach.

      Just for fun, I began looking at all of the components of a comprehensive program and which one really stood out to analyze and be the essence of the importance of the school counselor.  I looked at the delivery area only and developed a formula that is yet to be tested.  Please note that Math was not my strength!  That is why I am writing this blog to see if there are others who are interested in testing and finding out the "so what" of the results!  Consider it a puzzle!

      Here is the overall question that took me to the formula development: What if we could show the impact of the delivery system as solution focused response to intervention, would the perception of the school counseling program change?  Notice that I said, school counseling program and not school counselor.  If the program is shown to be essential, effective and is now considered part of the Response to Intervention Pyramid at the local level, then the perception of the school counselor as an essential professional also changes!

       Formula:  If we take the total number of students who multiplied by total classroom lessons delivered the result would equal the total number of solution focused interventions provided at Level 1.  If we take the number of students and the number of groups provided the results would equal solution focused interventions provided at Level 2.
       What would you present to your administrators and the educational community?  The results that show that the school counseling program provides different amounts of interventions at each of the levels.  What might be expected and hopeful outcomes: increased class time or identified groups that are needed; less non-counseling activities; and reduced caseloads to improve RTI results.

       Let's change our ways and instead of accountability, let's use solution focused interventions.   Instead of going at it by claiming a time and task aligned to non-counseling activities, too many students on the caseload and other emotional appeals to changing the profession at the local level, try aligning it to the RTI process and showing a simple formula on solution based interventions.



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