Professional school counselors and social justice advocacy
Dupre, Gayle Agan-Chmielewski
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This convergent parallel mixed methods study examined the relationship between professional school counselors’ definitions of social justice advocacy, perceptions about advocacy actions, knowledge and skills related to social justice advocacy, and perceptions of advocacy obligations. In addition, the study investigated the differences in the social justice advocacy perceptions of professional school counselors when considering demographic factors. This study also sought to determine those factors that are most influential in shaping the social justice advocacy perceptions of professional school counselors and explored the phenomenon of social justice advocacy and the experiences of professional school counselors related to social justice advocacy. Using a random sample of professional school counselors who were members of the American School Counseling Association, the School Counseling Survey: Advocacy for Students and their Families (Chibbaro & Cao, 2008) measured the perceptions professional school counselors have about social justice advocacy for students and their families. Concurrently, the study used open-ended questions to explore the perceptions professional school counselors have about social justice advocacy for students. Counselor definitions of social justice advocacy in the school counseling profession and their means of operationalizing social justice advocacy were also explored. The quantitative methodology for the study included Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient, multiple regressions, independent t-tests, and one-way analysis of variance. Statistical significance was found in the mean scores of professional school counselors who self-identified as social justice advocates versus those who did not. Professional school counselors who reported having taken a course in which understanding social justice/multicultural counseling/advocacy was the main objective scored significantly higher than those who did not take such a course. Statistical significance was also found in the scores of professional school counselors who self-identified as African American as compared to those self-identifying as Caucasian or Hispanic. The qualitative methodology for the study employed a phenomenological approach to investigate the meanings the participants attached to their perceptions of social justice advocacy. Themes of awareness, equity, access, resources, empowerment, leadership, fear, lack of resources, and lack of awareness were identified in the qualitative findings. Finally, implications for school districts, professional school counselors, counselor educator programs, and future research are discussed.