The expanding roles of school counselors: A phenomenological study on the noncounseling responsibilities of school counselors within Title 1 elementary schools
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Due to increased accountability and budget shortages, school districts and administrators are utilizing school counselors to perform noncounseling duties at their Title 1 elementary schools. School counselors juggle multiple roles, heavy caseloads, and a myriad of duties while addressing students’ academic, social, emotional, and career development needs. The counselors at Title 1 elementary schools are expected to meet the extensive behavioral, academic, and emotional needs of their students, which would cause these counselors to experience their roles very differently than counselors at non-Title 1 elementary schools. The purpose of this phenomenological study is to explore the experiences and perceptions of professional school counselors regarding their noncounseling responsibilities in Title 1 elementary schools. The ten-question interview protocol was developed based on review of the literature pertaining to the school counselor’s roles and responsibilities. The qualitative phenomenological analysis yielded six themes, four of which included subthemes. The themes included: (a) too much to handle: resent meaningless noncounseling duties, (b) enjoy working with kids and making a difference, (c) utilize me effectively: just let me counsel – no extras, (d) STAAR testing prevents me from seeing students, (e) dealing with duties: stress out, set boundaries, and take it in stride, and (f) juggling time and triaging: hard to carve out time to see students. Implications of this study include increased collaboration between policymakers, stakeholders, administrators, and counselors with a knowledge base for reevaluating the duties assigned to counselors at Title 1 schools.