Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Self-injury in the schools : school counselors' perspectives Public Deposited

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  • Among the many mental health concerns schools face today, self-injury is quickly gaining attention. It is estimated that almost 14% of adolescents have self-injured and the numbers are predicted to rise (Ross & Heath, 2002). Adolescents spend more of their waking hours in the school building than at home or with friends (Kush, 1991). This offers school staff considerable opportunity to observe student behavior and to interact with students. School counselors, in particular, are in a unique position to address the mental health needs of students as they are often the first mental health professional the student encounters (Froeschle & Moyer, 2004) and are identified by students as the most likely school employee to whom they would divulge personal problems (Armacost, 1990). The purpose of this research project was to determine the frequency with which school counselors encounter self-injuring students, their knowledge regarding self-injury, and their confidence in working with self-injurers. Additional goals included determining what supports counselors perceive that they need in order to work effectively with this population and describing the appropriate role of counselors when working with self-injurers. Data were collected via a questionnaire designed by the author. A sample of 1,000 school counselors was drawn from a membership list obtained from the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), the largest school counseling organization in the United States. Four hundred and forty-three counselors returned usable questionnaires. The key finding was that most school counselors are working with self-injurers despite low levels of self-reported knowledge and confidence. In order to improve counselors' knowledge and confidence levels, educational opportunities for counselors must be made available. Once trained, counselors can then act as an informant to the school community about this issue. Also, counselors need links to professional therapists for referrals when self-injuring students are identified in the school. Designating school counselors as the school contact for self-injurers is a logical choice based on their educational background, current roles, and job responsibilities, but along with that responsibility must come support from school administration in terms of training and resources to ensure counselors and school staff are adequately prepared to serve students.
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