Developing EQ Smart School Counselors: A Case Study

“The EQ competencies really helped me to look deeper not only at myself but it helped me to look deeper into all aspects of my life and work” (School Counseling Graduate Student intern)

Last spring, two counselors educators completed a pilot case study of school counseling interns in their last semester of graduate school. The purpose of the study was  to explore the impact of supplementing the traditional school counseling curriculum with social emotional learning lessons using the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence (EQ) model, competencies, and assessment tools. In the case study, the counselor educators compared two groups of school counseling students during their internship semester, one of whom received training in EQ competencies, leadership, and advocacy and the other who received leadership and advocacy training without the framework of the EQ curriculum.

School counselors assist students with academic, personal/social, and career development (ASCA, 2005), and engage in leadership and advocacy efforts for school reform (DeVoss & Andrews, 2006). The researchers’ hypothesis was that school counselor trainees, intentionally trained in EQ, would both show gains in their own EQ competencies and report self-efficacy in their teaching of social emotional learning lessons to their K-12 students. The researchers used a quasi-experimental mixed methods design. The participants were two sections of school counseling interns in a masters’ program at a southwestern university. One section served as control group; the other half experimental group. Both groups participated in eight regular internship lessons focused on leadership and advocacy; however the development of intern EQ competencies was the focus for the experimental group.

Students in both groups completed  pre and post self-report assessments of their EQ competencies (Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessment (SEI), 2011).
Data sources also included qualitative statements by the students in class, journals, mid-term and final reflection papers, and evaluative feedback from school supervisors. Students in the experimental group received individual and group scores on the eight competencies utilized in the assessment. These students engaged in individual reflection and group debriefing on their SEI results and journaled on their use of EQ during the semester.

The composite Emotional Intelligence score gain for the experimental group was 22.7% versus .5% for control group, which was representative of all subscale scores.

The EQ Test group of school counseling interns demonstrated impressive growth in all eight EQ competencies from pre to post test.

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The EQ group indicated the transformative   power of the lessons and their ability to use newly strengthened competencies in their personal and professional development. Two of the interns used the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessment- Youth Version (SEI-YV) with their K-12 counseling group students, and also reported substantial growth in pre to post test group scores for their students.

School counselors who increase their own EQ competencies may be better able to assist students with academics, relationships, and positive youth development. The inclusion of EQ into pre-service programs in higher education is an important precursor to integrating EQ into K-12 education.  Further research is needed to explore the inclusion of EQ in graduate school counseling programs, and other pre-service and inservice training (Jennings & Greenberg, 2009).

 

Authors’ Note:

Joyce A. DeVoss, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the department of Educational Psychology at NorthernArizona University. She is currently Coordinator of the M.Ed. School Counseling Program at  Northern Arizona University in Tucson, is Co-chair of the Arizona School Counseling Association (AzSCA) Research Committee and co-editor of the journal, School Counseling Research and Practice.   She co- authored the book, School Counselors as Educational Leaders (2006), has published articles and book chapters, and has presented at local, state, national and international levels.

Susan Stillman, Ed. D. is Director of Education for Six Seconds. She is also adjunct faculty at Northcentral University and Fielding Graduate University, and has taught school counseling students at Northern Arizona University and Southern Connecticut State University. She is the current chair of the Social Emotional Learning Special Interest Group at the American Educational Research Association, reviews for the Grounded Theory Institute journal, and is co-editor of the journal, School Counseling Research and Practice.

 

Authored by by Dr. Susan Stillman

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