Consider Mat Min and Abu Baker’s 2015 article, “Therapeutic Factors in Group Counselling Promotes Self Development,” on therapeutic factors and Young, Dollarhide, and Baughman’s 2015 article, “The Voices of School Counselors: Essential Characteristics of School Counselor Leaders,” on leadership skills used for group counseling. Describe some of your personal characteristics that will enable you to be an effective counselor. For example, you might discuss presence, genuineness, and an awareness of subtle cultural issues.Response GuidelinesRespond to one learner. As you reflect on his or her post, address one therapeutic factor you will need to work on to be a more effective group counselor. For example, describe how you might increase your belief in the group process.Learning ComponentsThis activity will help you achieve the following learning components:Identify the characteristics of group leaders.
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The majority of school counselor leadership studies
focus on quantitative data. The current study
contributes to the limited qualitative research
surrounding school counselor leadership. The
analysis of an open-ended statement from a national
study gives voice to school counselor perceptions
about leadership characteristics pertinent to the
profession. Five themes emerged from the findings:
leadership attributes, relationship attributes,
communication and collaboration, exemplary
program design, and advocacy. The themes align
with characteristics previously identified in the
school counseling literature.
efining the how and why of
effective school leadership is
complex. Yet, mobilizing a
vision and impacting change
is considered a key skill set in
educational settings. Leadership is about commitment to
goals and a foundational belief
that goals are achievable (Marzano, Waters, & McNulty,
2005). Educator effectiveness,
particularly administrator effectiveness, has been equated
with the ability to demonstrate
leadership characteristics and
practices that result in positive student outcomes (Marzano,
2010). Practices such as articulating
a strong vision, demonstrating knowledge about instructional curriculum,
promoting a positive school climate,
and partnering with community
members to develop student strengths
are often considered core competencies
for school leaders (Dufour, Dufour,
Eaker, & Many, 2010; Finnigan &
Stewart, 2009). Leithwood, Day, Sammons, Harris, and Hopkins’ (2006)
meta-analysis of literature on the
meaning and definition of leadership
identified 14 core behaviors: setting
goals, vision, individualized support/
consideration, emotional understanding, intellectual stimulation, modeling,
building a collaborative culture, structuring the organization to facilitate
work, creating productive relations
with family and communities, connecting the school to wider environment,
managing staffing, providing teaching
support, monitoring progress, and
buffering staff from distractions to
their core work. Examples of these
Anita Young, Ph.D., is an assistant
professor at Johns Hopkins University.
E-mail Colette T.
Dollarhide, Ed.D., is an associate
professor at the Ohio State University.
Amber Baughman, Ph.D., is an assistant
professor at Heidelberg University in
Tiffin, OH.
core leadership behaviors are frequently present in school vision statements,
identifiable in the goals of School Improvement Plans (SIPs), or observable
daily in instructional settings.
Another common behavior among
school leaders such as principals is the
ability to recognize and embrace the
evolving leadership potential of others to move schools toward rigorous
academic achievement for all students
(Clark & Stone, 2001). Although the
number of studies focused exclusively
on school counselor leadership may
not be as abundant as principal leadership, researchers agree that leadership
is important to the principal–school
counselor relationship, and to the ability to impact the quality of the school
counseling program (Armstrong, McDonald, & Stillo, 2010). The purpose
of the present study was to illuminate
the voices of practicing school counselors and capture their beliefs about
essential school counselor leadership
characteristics. Qualitative analysis
of an open-ended statement from a
national school counselor leadership
instrument was the impetus for the
study (Young & Bryan, 2015).
The literature provides evidence of
the importance of school counselor
leadership through studies using existing leadership surveys. For example,
Kouzes and Posner’s (2011) Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) has
been used as a platform to study how
school counselors demonstrate leadership practices. McMahon, Mason, and
Paisley (2009) and Shillingford and
Lambie (2010) used the LPI to investigate school counselor leadership practices and concluded that practices such
as alignment of the school counseling
program mission statement with the
school’s mission and vision significantly contributed to vital programmatic
service delivery. Janson (2009) also
confirmed the importance of school
counselor leadership through the
examination of how school counselors
perceive their leadership behaviors
and found that the school context may
impact how school counselors lead.
Most important in the school counseling profession, the ASCA National
Model (American School Counselor
Association [ASCA], 2005, 2012)
acknowledges the strength of leadership to design comprehensive school
counseling programs and integrate
with the lateral themes of advocacy,
collaboration, and systemic change.
Consequently, the need for visible and
intentional school counselor leadership is not disputable (Chen-Hayes,
Ockerman, & Mason, 2013; Education Trust, 1996; Hanson & Stone,
2002; Hines & Lemon, 2011; House
& Hayes, 2002; National Office for
School Counselor Advocacy, 2011;
Sink, 2009; Young & Miller-Kneale,
Two models of leadership appear
most pertinent to the current study.
One of the earliest models of school
counselor leadership is from Dollarhide (2003). Using Bolman and
Deal’s Four Framework Approach
(1997, 2008), Dollarhide identified
four contexts in which successful
school counselor leadership occurs:
lenges faced by new school counselors
included balancing all four leadership
frames and implementing human
resource leadership. The respondents
reported feeling alone and isolated in
their leadership efforts, prompting the
implication that new school counselors
need leadership mentors to help them
navigate the political leadership and
human resource leadership frames of
the model.
Second, in a quantitative study,
Young and Bryan (2015) identified
five dimensions of school counselor
leadership practices that provide
preliminary factors based on an instrument developed from the only survey
normed with school counselors. The
first dimension, Resourceful Problem
Solving, suggests that school counselor
leadership practices involve innovation, promote student achievement,
and require problem-solving strategies
to accomplish and exceed goals. The
second dimension, Systemic Collaboration, highlights skills required to
coordinate and work with others to
initiate new programs resulting in systemic outcomes for all K-12 students.
The third dimension, Interpersonal Influence, addresses persuasiveness skills
needed to promote the instructional
structural leadership (creating successful school counseling programs),
human resource leadership (empowering and inspiring others to want to
follow), political leadership (using the
formal and informal power structures
in the school to accomplish the goals
of the school counseling program),
and symbolic leadership (framing the
goals of the school counseling program in symbolic terms that the followers can identify). In a longitudinal
qualitative study following the leadership efforts of five new school counselors, Dollarhide, Gibson, and Saginak
(2008) found that the leadership chal-
vision and gain buy-in to share innovative ideas. The fourth dimension,
Social Justice Advocacy, addresses
aspects of social justice and advocacy
skills that challenge status quo barriers to equitable opportunities. Last,
the fifth factor, Professional Efficacy,
focuses on the ability to believe in
oneself. The results suggest that school
counselors from all levels (elementary,
middle, high, and supervisory) engage
in practices that align with skills previously suggested as effective by educational leaders (Marzano, 2010) and
recommended by authors of studies
related to school counseling leadership
(Janson, Stone, & Clark 2009; Mason
& McMahon, 2009; Shillingford &
Lambie, 2010).
Together, these two models provide
macro and micro views of leadership
for school counselors. Dollarhide
(2003) provided some insight into the
process of leadership from a macro
perspective, offering how leadership
might be engaged from a systemic
view of establishing a program, recruiting colleagues, accessing power
structures, and inspiring others. Young
and Bryan (2015) provided a micro
view of school counselor leadership; they captured the dimensions of
leadership practices from professional
school counselors in the field and
outlined leadership behaviors from a
quantitative perspective in terms of
resourceful problem solving, systemic
collaboration, interpersonal influence,
social justice advocacy, and professional efficacy. What is still unknown
about school counselor leadership
is how practicing school counselors
describe characteristics of school
counselor leaders. This becomes
important when considering the following example: efforts generated by a
leader who is not trusted by his or her
followers may likely fail because the
individual does not possess or exhibit
leadership characteristics of trustworthiness. Therefore, this survey-based
study was undertaken to examine how
school counselors describe leadership
The current study is part of a national study designed to articulate
and validate a framework for school
counseling leadership. An exploratory
factor analysis was conducted after
analyzing Likert items and open-ended comments developed from focus
groups and used in pilot studies with
school counselors, school counseling supervisors, and graduate school
counseling students. A confirmatory
factor analysis concluded that the
Likert items were reliable and an effective measure for school counselors
and school counseling supervisors’
leadership practices. The findings
from the exploratory and confirmatory analyses were used for separate
quantitative research articles. This
current survey-based study (Wiersma
& Jurs, 2009) focused on what practicing school counselors identified as
important characteristics of school
counselor leaders. The study was
designed to capture and analyze the
open-ended responses of practicing
school counselors and supervisors.
The stratified sample consisted of
school counselors and school counselor supervisor members from the
American School Counselor Association (ASCA) database and was
believed to provide a wide national
representation for this study. Therefore, an e-mail link survey request was
sent to approximately 18,000 school
counselor members, of whom 1577
from a variety of backgrounds and experiences responded and were deemed
appropriate for a Web-based study
(Wiersma & Jurs, 2009). Of those,
1,316 participants responded to the
one open-ended question. However,
due to the number of blank responses
throughout the survey, the following
demographics do not represent all
1,316 participants’ responses for the
open-ended statement. Percentages
are presented in terms of the total
responses for each question. In terms
of school setting, respondents included
371 (28%) elementary counselors, 205
(16%) middle school counselors, 437
(33%) high school counselors, and
303 (23%) counselors across multiple
levels. The sample also represented
257 (20%) school counseling supervisors. The respondents were dispersed
in terms of school counseling experience; 475 (40%) reported fewer than
7 years of experience, 415 (35%)
reported between 7 and 15 years of
experience, and 300 (25%) reported
more than 15 years of experience
(total n for this question = 1,190). For
gender, 174 (14%) of the respondents
indicated male and 1066 (86%) indicated female (total n = 1240). In terms
of school context, 323 (26%) were
from urban schools, 375 (30%) were
from rural schools, and 532 (43%)
were from suburban schools (total
n = 1,230). Last, in terms of leadership experience in the past 2 years in
a professional association, 365 (30%)
indicated yes and 868 (70%) indicated
no (total n = 1,233).
The authors obtained Institutional
Review Board (IRB) approval prior
to distributing the survey to a stratified sample of school counselors and
school counselor supervisors who were
members of ASCA. Participants were
emailed a link with instructions to
complete the School Counselor Leadership Survey (SCLS), with weekly
reminders e-mailed for 30 days.
As previously mentioned, questions
posed to the respondents included
demographics about school counseling
setting; status as a school counseling
supervisor; years of school counseling
experience; gender; urban, rural, or
suburban school setting; and leadership in a professional association in
the past two years. Participants were
also invited to respond to Likert scale
items that were not used for this study
and to the open-ended statement used
for this study. The open ended statement asked respondents to “List two
characteristics that you believe are
essential for school counselor leaders.”
The statement was asked at the end of
the SCLS and used to capture participants’ ideas about leadership characteristics (Marshall & Rossman, 2006;
Young & Bryan, 2015).
Research Team
The analysis of the open-ended responses involved content exploration;
therefore, the researcher-as-instrument
(Creswell, 2013) was an important
part of the research process. In this
study, the two first authors were both
school counselor educators who have
written and researched extensively in
school counseling leadership (from
quantitative and qualitative perspectives, respectively), and the third
author was a doctoral student with
research experience. All three authors
were women with experience in the
field and in academia. The first author
collected the data as outlined above
and the second and third authors
analyzed and coded the data. To
minimize research biases and increase
confirmability, the first author acted as
auditor (Hunt, 2011). Assumptions of
the three researchers included a belief
that understanding school counseling
leadership was imperative and that
school counselor leadership could be
learned and should be taught to all
school counselors. Although the first
and second authors have written about
school counseling leadership using different conceptual leadership models,
those models were set aside during
data analysis so that the data would be
analyzed free from preexisting structures (Jackson & Trochim, 2002).
Data Analysis
An overall description of the data
analysis in this study was concept
mapping using phenomenological,
not statistical, clustering strategies
(Jackson & Trochin, 2002; Moustakas, 1994). Due to the high number of
responses (usable responses = 1,316)
and the multiple responses from each
respondent, the dataset was very
large. The initial examination of the
data found that some responses were
long sentences describing one idea; in
other cases, respondents had strung
together multiple descriptors, creating
wide variety in the number of actual
descriptors from each respondent. For
example, one respondent stated “Proactive, innovative, and accountable”
for one response, then “advocate,
empathic, and compassionate” for the
second response. In this example, each
word in the string represents a unique
“meaning unit” and was coded separately to allow full understanding of
the response, consistent with concept
mapping (Jackson & Trichim, 2002).
The authors selected QSR NVivo 10
( as the
most appropriate tool to organize,
analyze, categorize, and code openended survey responses (Wiersma &
Jurs, 2009, p. 199) from these 1,316
nally consistent (Jackson & Trochim,
2002). For example, the response
“knowledge of school counseling” and
“knowledge of students’ issues” were
both brought up in the initial code
for “knowledge,” but the responses
clearly had different meaning. The
first response was hand coded under
“school counseling”, and the second response was hand coded under
“students.” In this way, the authors
ensured that all data was captured and
ensured congruence with the respondents’ meaning (Moustakas, 1994).
Data analysis involved six steps
(Jackson & Trichim, 2002). In the
first step of analysis, the second and
third authors established the meaning
units as words by having the system
do a word count. In this list of words,
they could then select and read the
responses in which that word appeared.
To account for all the responses, the
authors followed this procedure for all
words that appeared twice or more, not
including “the”, “and”, prepositions,
and qualifiers that did not alter the
meaning of the response (Jackson &
Trochim, 2002). For example, “a good
communicator” and “should have great
communication skills” were both coded
as “communication” in the nodes that
developed from the data. This level
of analysis revealed misspellings and
other issues that the authors were able
to capture for analysis, and they were
able to ensure that all responses were
represented in the results.
The second step, sorting, involved
the initial coding of meaning units,
called “child nodes” (QSR NVivo
10). During this step of the analysis,
the authors monitored the meaning
of each response before coding to a
node to ensure fidelity to the respondent’s intent, and monitored the size
and scope of each node to be sure that
the meaning of the node was inter-
For the third step, the second and
third authors examined the child
nodes and grouped them under
“parent nodes,” or themes. In concept mapping, this is called clustering (Jackson & Trochim, 2002). In
this iterative process, relationships
between child nodes emerged and
were grouped together. The process
included multiple discussions and
configurations, with time for reflection
and individual analysis between meetings and continued thematic groupings (Moustakas, 1994). In the fourth
step, the themes were examined for
internal consistency, called final cluster
solution (Jackson & Trochum, 2002),
with movement of child nodes to create conceptually meaningful themes
that were intuitive, consistent, and
logical (Moustakas, 1994). The fifth
step was labeling the clusters (Jackson
& Trochim, 2002), a step designed
to capture the textual and structural
elements of the responses in a unified
statement (Moustakas, 1994).
In the sixth and final step, the first
author served as an outside reader
to validate the findings (Hunt, 2011;
Jackson & Trochim, 2002). In the
Results section, below, thematic descriptors and discrete elements of each
theme were maintained as parent and
child nodes. The child nodes represent
the discrete meaning units from the
original data, and the parent nodes
capture the thematic descriptor of all
the related child nodes. The counts for
the parent nodes were then defined as
the aggregate of the child nodes within
that thematic descriptor.
In qualitative research, four quality
indices help the reader evaluate the
integrity of the findings (Hunt, 2011;
Marshall & Rossman, 2006): credibility, transferability, dependability, and
confirmability. Because the examination of responses to this open-ended
survey statement involved coding and
thematic grouping, the authors applied
these criteria of soundness. To achieve
credibility, the data were carefully
analyzed to preserve the meaning
of the respondents, including extensive verification of the child nodes
and presentation of all child/parent
nodes for the reader to evaluate. To
address transferability, the authors
primarily applied triangulation: first,
Respondents provided a total of 2,465
m …
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