An Occupation in Search of Identity—What Is School Counseling?
- Einat Heled
- Nitza Davidovitch
This study will focus on the professional identity of school counseling, which is a key function in Israeli schools. Forming a professional identity is part of the process of professional development that begins with academic training and continues throughout one’s professional career. Professional identity distinguishes between different occupations and provides practitioners with a safe base that lets them better understand their work and form a team spirit within their field of occupation. The research literature indicates an association between one’s professional identity and her professional functioning and success, sense of stability, confidence, and pride in practicing the occupation. The professional identity of school counseling is related to gender. This is a predominantly female occupation and most of its practitioners in Israel are women.
Few studies have been conducted on the professional identity of school counselors (Note 1) and its impact on the quality of their work. It appears that the definition of the school counselor’s role is neither clear nor unambiguous, both in Israel and elsewhere, and this affects the professional identity of counselors and the quality of their work. The current study included semi-structured interviews with 15 school counselors, in which they spoke about the structure of their work, their professional vision, satisfaction, and sense of self-fulfillment as a result of their job, as well as their professional self-efficacy.
The research findings show that the structure of the counselor’s work, her role definition and workload, are related to her professional identity, including how she perceives the counseling occupation, her satisfaction and sense of self-fulfillment. Based on the interviews, no differences were found between the narratives of counselors with different levels of seniority in the profession with regard to professional identity, satisfaction, and self-fulfillment. The research findings indicate the need to define the school counseling occupation and its place in the school in order to help school counselors establish a clearer professional identity, with the aim of adapting the role to the challenges of the school system in the 21st century, in the world in general and in Israel in particular.
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