Post-degree perceived proficiency, professional development and supervision activities of practicing school counselors

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Human Services


Richard Pearson


Professional development, Supervision, School counselors, Counselors, Postdegree proficiency

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Psychology


A random sample of practicing professional school counselors from Georgia and New York was surveyed concerning (a) their identification with the professional skills set, tasks, and competencies as outlined by Gysbers' Comprehensive School Guidance Model and their felt levels of proficiency in carrying out the skills, tasks, and competencies as described therein; (b) their utilization of traditional and/or non-traditional professional development activities to gain and maintain skills; and (c) their perceptions of the importance of supervision to maintain skills that are learned through professional development activities and to support individual and group counseling skills. This exploratory research employed descriptive statistics, multivariate analysis of variance, and chi-square for quantitative analyses of the research questions, and a quasi-social interactionism framework for qualitative analyses of responses to a number of open-ended questions. Quantitative analyses revealed that school counselors report perceptions of feeling somewhat proficient to proficient across the professional skills set. They are more likely to report higher levels of perceived proficiency if they (a) have local, state, and national organizational affiliations; (b) have 10 or more years of school counseling experience; (c) work in an urban environment; and (d) participate in formal supervision. This research found no significant differences between school counselors' perceived levels of proficiency and their participation in professional development activities. However, if they participate in professional development activities, they are most likely to choose informal peer consulting as their method of maintaining the learned skill. Qualitative analyses revealed themes related to self-sufficiency in some areas of professional development. Other themes included marginalization, devaluation, disenfranchisement, and lack of understanding by others within their work contexts. Traditional views of school counselors within the professional literature have been unfavorable in terms of perceptions of proficiency standards, professional development, and adherence to traditional supervision. Although many writers have offered suggestions to remedy the professional deficits, few were based on research that considered the school counselor's perspective. School counselors in this study perceived themselves as more proficient than had been previously reported within the professional literature, they have specific professional development requirements, and they use alternative methods of supervision. Reasons for these differing viewpoints remain unclear. These considerations have implications for both training and practice needs of professional school counselors.


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