Phillips Graduate University Responds to School Violence and Other Safety Concerns in Training Future School Counselors

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In response to the recent spate of school violence episodes nationwide, Phillips Graduate University’s (PGU) School Counseling Program continues to focus on providing graduate students practical ways to “stay connected” to pupils both inside and outside the confines of the school counseling office.

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“I really felt the Phillips Graduate University program prepared me not just for the workload in being a school counselor,” said one recent graduate, “but also the importance of my role in keeping schools safe. Kids depend on us to recognize what’s going on and intervene if necessary.”

In response to the recent spate of school violence episodes nationwide, Phillips Graduate University’s (PGU) School Counseling Program continues to focus on providing graduate students practical ways to “stay connected” to pupils both inside and outside the confines of the school counseling office.

Integrating academic preparation with practicums within schools district-wide, PGU school counseling training emphasizes the need for real engagement with students to identify kids who may currently be suffering from the effects of depression, isolation and targeted bullying from others. These issues have been shown to be risk factors in later incidents of school violence.

Indeed, according to Phillips Graduate University’s School Counseling Field Placement Coordinator and Associate Professor Alan Scher, early intervention with this subgroup of students may in turn prevent later antisocial behavior, if not outright tragedy, on campus.

Scher said, “We’re training our school counselors here at Phillips to always keep a door open to their students as they move into their careers on elementary and secondary school campuses. It’s so important for them to be available for walk-ins to share news, feelings and experiences that otherwise might go unnoticed or remarked upon. School counselors walking around can prevent trouble simply by their physical presence. After all, it’s hard for a kid to bully someone with an adult around.”

The American School Counseling Association recommends that school counselors spend 80 percent of their time directly with students. However, as Mr. Scher pointed out, many LAUSD schools have far fewer counselors than needed on their campuses, which means these valuable team members spend less time with kids and more time doing the necessary paperwork their jobs entail. Nevertheless, the Phillips Graduate University School Counseling Program emphasizes the underlying importance of maintaining the student-counselor relationship above all.

“I really felt the Phillips Graduate University program prepared me not just for the workload in being a school counselor,” said one recent graduate, “but also the importance of my role in keeping schools safe. Kids depend on us to recognize what’s going on and intervene if necessary.”

In addition to Phillips Graduate University’s academic role in preparing future school counselors, the graduate school also works actively to serve as an important resource and hub for current LAUSD personnel. On May 24, Phillips Graduate University will host a district-wide meeting of Los Angeles Unified School District Assistant Principals and School Counseling Services .This conclave will focus on professional development topics and intra-district communication as well as offering an opportunity for the Superintendent of LAUSD and senior officials to communicate new anti-violence initiatives, programs and ideas with staff.

“Hosting these kinds of meetings helps Phillips Graduate University students and professors stay abreast of important news and developments when it comes not only to school violence, but pretty much all LAUSD policy that will affect our future school counselors,” Scher said.

In addition to School Counseling, Phillips Graduate University also offers accredited graduate programs in School Psychology, Child Welfare and Attendance, Marriage and Family Therapy, Art Therapy and other related areas. California Family Counseling Center, as an on site family counseling clinic, offers sliding scale counseling services to families and individuals throughout the Los Angeles area.

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Debbie Jackson
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