ERG SES G 07, Health and Language in Education
This empirical doctoral research study, which commenced in October 2012, examined wellbeing and resilience of guidance counsellors in the Irish post-primary sector using an interpretivist approach.
The Irish model of post-primary school-based guidance counselling was established in 1972 (NGF 2007) and encompasses the three interlinked areas of personal /social, educational and vocational/career counselling in a holistic model. Within the Irish Education Act (1998, p.13) Section 9(c), ‘guidance’ has been articulated as an entitlement in post-primary schools. However, it is a challenging and complex role that has in recent years been limited under regressive fiscal educational policy and yet several Irish studies amongst key stakeholders including principals, guidance counsellors, and parents articulate the need for greater provision of guidance in post-primary education provision (DES 2006, Hayes and Morgan 2011).
The construct of resilience, which has its origins within the medical profession, has proved difficult to define (Windle 2011). Some of the key studies on resilience have emerged from diverse disciplines such as medicine (Windle 2011), sociology (Schoon 2006), and psychology (Rutter 2006). In an effort to clarify ‘resilience’, a systematic review of literature from a multi-disciplinary perspective proposes the following definition:
Resilience is the process of negotiating, managing and adapting to signiﬁcant sources of stress or trauma. Assets and resources within the individual, their life and environment facilitate this capacity for adaptation and ‘bouncing back’ in the face of adversity. Across the life course, the experience of resilience will vary.
(Windle 2011, p.163)
According to Schoon (2006, p.17), an understanding of the “dynamic person-environment interactions reflecting adaptive responses to adversity” are key factors in resilience, which must not be interpreted as a personality trait. In other words, a social-ecological understanding defines resilience as an interactive quality of both individuals and their environments (Ungar 2011). The theoretical framework of this study borrows from Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological model that human development is the result of interactions between environmental systems influencing the individual (i.e. “microsystem” (individual and immediate environment) “mesosystem” (process between systems), “exosystem” (events that influence the development of an individual, even though the individual is not directly involved with them) “macrosystem” (consistencies at the level of subculture or culture).
The primary research question is:
How do guidance counsellors in Irish post primary schools experience wellbeing and resilience in the context of the re-allocation of guidance counselling provision?
In addition, a number of secondary research questions have been identified:
- What are the key challenges being experienced by post-primary guidance counsellors in their work?
- What factors or conditions contribute towards the resilience of guidance counsellors employed within the Irish post-primary sector?
- How are post-primary guidance counsellors currently addressing their self-care, in terms of emotional regulation, stress, and burnout?
The overall aim of this research study is to examine the nature of resilience of guidance counsellors currently employed in the Irish post-primary sector.
1. To critically scrutinise current literature on the topic under investigation to provide a theoretical, political and practice context to the study.
2. To examine the nature of resilience amongst individual guidance counsellors through a qualitative approach in the form of semi structured interviews at two time points (2013 and 2015).
3. To identify the support systems and coping strategies employed by guidance counsellors to sustain them in their guidance work.
4. To make recommendations and inform current and future practice based on the findings of the study.
Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006) ‘Using thematic analysis in psychology’, Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77-101. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979) The Ecology of Human Development, Experiments by Nature and Design, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. DES (2006) Department of Education and Science, Review of Guidance in Second Level Schools. Dublin. Government Publications [online], available: http://www.ncge.ie/uploads/review_guidance_second_level_schools.pdf [accessed 16 Dec 2014]. Government of Ireland, Education Act 1998 (1998) No. 51/1998, Dublin: Stationery Office. [online], available: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/pdf/1998/en.act.1998.0051.pdf [accessed 20 Oct 2012]. Gu, Q. and Day, C. (2013) ‘Challenges to teacher resilience: conditions count’, British Educational Research Journal, 39 (1), 22–44. Hayes, C. and Morgan, M. (2011) Research on the Practice of Counselling by Guidance Counsellors in Post-Primary Schools [online], available: http://www.ncge.ie/uploads/The_Practice_of_Counselling_by_Guidance_Counsellors_in_Post_Primary_Schools.pdf [accessed 10 Nov 2014]. Mackenzie, S. (2012) ‘I can’t imagine doing anything else’: why do teachers of children with SEN remain in the profession? Resilience, rewards and realism over time’, Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 12(3), 151–161. National Guidance Forum (2007) Guidance in Ireland Background Scoping Report [online], available: http://www.nationalguidanceforum.ie/documents/NGF_Scoping_Report%20Final.pdf [accessed 08 Nov 2014]. Price, A., Mansfield, C. and McConney, A. (2012) ‘Considering ‘teacher resilience’ from critical discourse and labour process theory perspectives’, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 33(1), 81-95. Rutter, M. (2006) ‘Implications of resilience concepts for scientific understanding’, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1094, 1–12. Schoon, I. (2006) Risk and Resilience Adaptations in Changing Times, London: Cambridge University Press. Ungar, M. (2003) ‘Qualitative contributions to resilience research’, Qualitative Social Work, 2(1), 85-102. Ungar, M. (2011) ‘The social ecology of resilience: Addressing contextual and cultural ambiguity of a nascent construct’, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 81, 1–17. Windle, G. (2011) ‘What is resilience? A review and concept analysis’, Reviews in Clinical Gerontology, 21, 152-169.
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