School counselors’ and school principals’ perceptions of the school counselor’s role

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2005

Publication Title





The purpose of this study was to determine how counselors and administrators who had taken counseling courses and were now practicing in their respective roles perceived the role of the school counselor. Education 603 Leadership and School Transformation was designed to prepare future counselors and administrators to participate in collaborative change initiatives for school improvement in K-12 settings. Their goal was for each preparation group to develop a greater appreciation for the professional activities that the literature on best practices suggests are role congruent for each profession. They used the survey developed by Fitch et al. (2001). They asked participants for information about their years of K-12 experience and current grade level. The participants were all the students who had taken Education 603 Leadership and School Transformation at The University of Puget Sound. The participants were mailed the survey and a cover letter signed by one of the authors, depending on which name was most likely to be recognized. The cover letter explained the purpose of the survey and indicated that to return the survey constituted informed consent. If no response was received within two weeks, a second mailing was sent out with a reminder letter. Results for 15 role-congruent statements were analyzed separately from 5 statements that are not role congruent. Mean responses to these two sets of questions were correlated with program affiliation, grade level, and years of experience. These correlations are presented in a table. On the other hand, there were strong correlations between the role-incongruent statements and both program affiliation and grade level. These results do not lend themselves to simple interpretations. The counselors and administrators in their study tended to agree about the functions that might be considered role congruent, but did not agree about those functions that are not considered role congruent. The administrators were more likely than the counselors to endorse the role-incongruent statements. One conclusion seems clear: Everyone should not be too optimistic about their ability to change perceptions in the absence of corresponding experiences in the field. It may not be principals' lack of understanding of counselor roles that leads to poor allocation of counselors' time, but the real demands of the work settings that impinge on both roles. (Contains 1 note.)