School counselors reflect on their experience following student deaths

January 9, 2019, Wiley
Michael Hannon - Journal of Counseling and Development. Credit: Mike Peters, Montclair State University

When five school counselors who were part of a counseling team were interviewed to learn how they professionally and personally experienced the deaths of multiple students in one year in their school while attending to the needs of the school community, several themes emerged.

The Journal of Counseling & Development study's first theme, gravity of the losses, related to the significance of the losses the counseling team and broader school community experienced as each died.

The second theme, logistics of care, pertained to how the school counselors managed and navigated the student deaths with the rest of the student body, other school personnel, and each other, both in the initial moments after learning about the deaths and later as students and staff were continuing to process what happened.

The third theme of personal versus professional conflicts reflected how the school counselors reported experiencing a conflict between attending to students' grief as professional counselors and experiencing their own personal grief.

The fourth theme of increased student cohesion represented the school counselors' description of a deeper sense of community among the student body that resulted from the student deaths.

The final theme of efficacy reflected how the counselors repeatedly questioned themselves about their effectiveness as school counselors in general, even with evidence that their work supported strong graduation and employment rates and a safe school environment.

"The collective narrative of these school counselors has provided us with invaluable lessons and perspective. A community is, oftentimes, connected by its , and school counselors are on the front lines when crises occur," said lead author Dr. Michael Hannon, of Montclair State University. "The school counselors who contributed to this study offer us insight into how they provided acute and ongoing care for the community, while simultaneously balancing and trying to meet their own personal and professional needs. My co-authors and I are deeply grateful for their transparency about such a demanding time."

Explore further: Bilingual school counselors help narrow achievement gap

More information: Journal of Counseling & Development, DOI: 10.1002/jcad.12234

Related Stories

Bilingual school counselors help narrow achievement gap

August 2, 2011

he fastest growing group of students in America's K-12 schools are Latino. Evidence-based programs addressing the unique language and cultural needs of that population are successful in narrowing the traditional achievement ...

Recommended for you

Nanoscale Lamb wave-driven motors in nonliquid environments

March 19, 2019

Light driven movement is challenging in nonliquid environments as micro-sized objects can experience strong dry adhesion to contact surfaces and resist movement. In a recent study, Jinsheng Lu and co-workers at the College ...

OSIRIS-REx reveals asteroid Bennu has big surprises

March 19, 2019

A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid's surface. Bennu also revealed itself ...

The powerful meteor that no one saw (except satellites)

March 19, 2019

At precisely 11:48 am on December 18, 2018, a large space rock heading straight for Earth at a speed of 19 miles per second exploded into a vast ball of fire as it entered the atmosphere, 15.9 miles above the Bering Sea.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.