Elementary Teacher Perceptions of the Role and Function of the Professional School Counselor: Experiences and Collaboration




Rogers, Elizabeth

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Professional School Counselors (PSC) have battled role ambiguity and a lack of professional identity since the profession was created (Beesly, 2004; Burnam & Jackson, 2006; Gysbers & Henderson, 2012). With the increase of mental health awareness initiatives and new calls for mental health interventions, PSCs who are trained and qualified to address these issues are finding themselves burdened by numerous non-counseling duties as outlined by the American School Counseling Association (2012). This qualitative study explored elementary school teachers perceptions of PSC engagement in counseling and non-counseling activities and examined collaborative efforts between these two invaluable educational stakeholders. Though previous studies exist that explore teacher perceptions of PSC role (Reiner, 2007), few are qualitatively based and none explored elementary teachers exclusively. A grounded theory approach was selected to address the study’s main point of inquiry. Theoretical and convenience sampling was utilized to select and interview 15 elementary teachers. Interview transcripts were analyzed utilizing constant comparative analysis that revealed five main themes: 1) PSCs address student needs, 2) PSCs face systemic barriers, 3) PSCs are viewed as collaborative partners, 4) teachers see clear benefits to students when PSCs engage in counseling activities, and 5) there is limited familiarity and training regarding the PSC role and comprehensive school counseling program. Based on the results of the study, a Professional School Counselor Role Ambiguity Model was created and recommendations for future research are provided. Results of this study may have an institutional policy implication by promoting change in the school counseling profession and strengthen the knowledge of the role of the school counselor among teachers, administrators, and other educational stakeholders.


The data collection was completed using a qualitative process. Interviews were conducted, transcribed, and verified for accuracy. Transcripts were then analyzed using Nvivo and verified by counselor educators in the field as well as the primary investigator (author).


2023 Faculty and Student Research Poster Session and Research Fair, West Texas A&M University, Department of Education, Poster, Professional school counselor, Elementary teachers, Professional school counselor role ambiguity model


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