Journal of Education & Social Policy

ISSN 2375-0782 (Print) 2375-0790 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/jesp

School Based Mental Health: A School Counselor’s Reflection
Dr. Jill M. Thompson

The case studies presented in this article were produced by counselors-in-training in a master’s degree program at a southeastern university. The purpose of this manuscript is to present case studies pertaining to areas of concern that have been recognized from the perspective of counselors in training participating in P-12 internships within the inner city and urban school systems. The practice of reflection has been identified as an important component of counselor development (Neufeldt, Karno, & Nelson, 1996). For this article, the authors defined reflective thinking as the active, ongoing examination of theories, beliefs, and assumptions that contribute to school counselor interns’ understanding of P-12 student issues, and guide their choices for strategies and interventions. The competency of school counselors is measured by their abilities to understand and conceptualize complex problems (Brown and Trusty, 2005). Therefore, the development of reflective thinking is an important objective of counselor education programs. The reflective technique of case study introspection is encouraged; because the process is useful for encouraging P -12 students to think critically about assumptions that guide the counseling practice and include opportunities for feedback (King & Kitchener, 1994). Based on observations as a counselor educator, using case studies has been an effective teaching strategy to increase critical thinking. The focus of this article involves the social-emotional issues that P-12 students experience that school counselor’s face in urban school environments. Case studies are used in education to further assist students to reflect on the cultural environment they work within. The case study technique is applied in a variety of instructional situations. To provide the most complete understanding possible, case studies are used typically to examine the relationships of all variables. Case studies involve a type of comprehensive understanding determined by a process known as thick description. The comprehensive understanding involves in-depth descriptions of the entities being evaluation, the circumstances, the characteristics of the people involved, and the nature of the community. Additionally, thick descriptions involve interpreting the meaning of demographic and descriptive data, such as cultural norms and mores, community values, ingrained attitudes, and motives. Case study refers to the collection and presentation of detailed information about a particular participant or small group, which frequently includes the accounts of the participants. As a form of qualitative descriptive research design, the case study methodology is used to examine intensely at an individual or small participant pool, allowing the researchers to develop conclusions about that participant or group within the specific context only (Yin, R. 1994). Using reflection, practitioners can expose and criticize the tacit understandings resulting from the repetitive experience of a specialized practice and make new sense of the uncertain or unique situations they have experienced (Schon, 1991). Officials at the American School Counseling Association (2008) identified counselors as uniquely qualified to address all students’ academic, personal/social, and career developmental needs. Further, counselors play an essential role in maximizing student success (American School Counseling Association, 2008).

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