School counseling outside of the box: An investigation of truncated counseling intervention in secondary schools

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Human Services


Richard E. Pearson


School counseling, Truncated counseling intervention, Secondary schools

Subject Categories

Secondary Education and Teaching | Student Counseling and Personnel Services


Five secondary school counselors working in four separate suburban school districts in Central New York State were observed and interviewed in their work settings. All of the counselors had at least seven years of experience in the field of school counseling and graduated from counselor education programs that included intense study of traditional counseling theory and a school-based practicum and/or internship. Faced with the realities of the secondary school setting, e.g., non-counseling duties, high student counselor ratios, and excessive paperwork, the counselors described significant challenges in their efforts to provide counseling services to their clients. Other factors such as the environmental features of the secondary school, and the characteristics and preferences of their clients were viewed as problematic. These school counselors have experienced a professional crisis of confidence; a situation usually occurring when there is a mismatch of traditional patterns of professional practice and knowledge to the features of the practice situation. This crisis of confidence was found to create the conditions leading to specific responses and strategies. A qualitative grounded theory approach resulted in the discovery that in the context of the secondary school setting the phenomenon termed "Outside of the Box" counseling and three major theoretical categories, marketing, distribution, and expansion/capitalization were linked through the conditions of a professional crisis of confidence, and were informed by an array of intervening conditions that were associated with how the counselors implemented their knowledge and skills to affect change in their clients. Process models for understanding the "Outside of the Box" counseling approach are introduced, and a comparison with Brief Counseling and Therapy is presented. Recommendations were made for school counselors, counselor educators, and for future research.


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