School counsellors' challenges, coping strategies, and perceptions of service delivery

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University of New Brunswick


This interpretive phenomenological study explored the challenges experienced by school counsellors in Trinidad and Tobago from a wellness perspective, how these counsellors alleviated those challenges, and the counsellors’ perceptions of how those challenging experiences affected their service delivery. Specifically, 10 public school counsellors participated in the study. These counsellors were purposely selected, and Smith and Osborn’s (2003) Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to analyse the data. In addition, Roscoe’s (2009) Seven Dimensional Wellness Model was used as the framework for the study. The dimensions of this wellness model are: occupational, environmental, emotional, spiritual, physical, interpersonal/social, and intellectual wellness. Counsellors reported that the challenges emanated from both organizational systemic issues and work/life balance issues. Among the strategies used were controlling those issues that were in their sphere of influence amidst those situations that they had no control over, and seeking support from supervisors, family members, and friends. Counsellors also concluded that low energy levels affected delivery of sessions during the challenging experiences. Counsellors’perceptions of the quality of service delivery during the challenging periods revealed many areas for strengthening supports to students, such as making the case for additional professional resources and advocating for improving the literacy rates of students entering the secondary school system. Finally, while their earlier years as school counsellors were more difficult with respect to finding a balance between counselling and other duties, their current experience in terms of the types of issues that they are now encountering seems more challenging.