Professional school counselors’ knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes about sychopharmacology
Johnson, Paul Andrew
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This concurrent embedded mixed methods study examined the knowledge professional school counselors possess about psychopharmacology and their perceptions of the role of psychopharmacology in their daily practice with students. Using a random sample of members of the American School Counseling Association (ASCA), the Psychopharmacology Knowledge Index for School Counselors (P-KISC) measured the professional school counselors’ knowledge of psychopharmacology. Similarly, the Psychopharmacology Beliefs Index for School Counselors (P-BISC) measured this group’s attitudes and beliefs about the value of psychopharmacology in their daily practice as school counselors. The study used open-ended questions to delve further into school counselors’ perceptions of psychopharmacology in the school setting. One-way ANOVAs, independent t-tests, and a Pearson Product-Moment Correlation Coefficient were used to analyze the data quantitatively, while the open-ended questions were analyzed using traditional qualitative techniques including inductive analysis and constant comparative methods. Statistically significant differences in psychopharmacology knowledge were found for counselors who worked at the elementary school level as compared to those who worked at the middle or high school levels and for those who had earned the National Certified Counselor (NCC) designation when compared with those who were not NCC designees. Significant differences in school counselors’ perceptions about psychopharmacology were found based on gender, whether the counselor had worked in a mental health setting prior to working as a school counselor, whether the counselor had taken a college psychopharmacology course, and the counselor’s years of experience in the field. Previous exposure to psychopharmacology was found to affect both school counselors’ knowledge and perceptions of psychopharmacology. The relationship between the two instruments, the P-KISC and the P-BISC, was a weak but statistically significant positive linear correlation. Themes identified in the qualitative analysis included awareness, prevalence, ethics and legality, consultation and collaboration, and basic knowledge. Limitations of the study as well as the implications of this exploratory research are discussed.